105 Greatest Living Authors Present the World's Best Stories, Humor, Drama, Biography, History, Essays, Poetry

By Whit Burnett | Go to book overview
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HERMANN HESSE

MONTAGNOLA, SWITZERLAND I sent you back the ballot with my vote. If anything of my work should be published in THE WORLD'S BEST I should propose Innen und Aussen, a story of 4,000 words, which I think to be a good representation of my kind of writing. . . . Up to now it has never been translated into English.

H. HESSE


Within and Without

THERE WAS ONCE a man by the name of Frederick; he devoted himself to intellectual pursuits and had a wide range of knowledge. But not all knowledge was the same to him, nor was any thought as good as any other: he loved a certain type of thinking, and disdained and abominated the others. What he loved and revered was logic--that so admirable method--and, in general, what he called "science."

"Twice two is four," he used to say. "This I believe; and man must do his thinking on the basis of this truth."

He was not unaware, to be sure, that there were other sorts of thinking and knowledge; but they were not "science," and he held a low opinion of them. Although a freethinker, he was not intolerant of religion. Religion was founded on a tacit agreement among scientists. For several centuries their science had embraced nearly everything that existed on earth and was worth knowing, with the exception of one single province: the human soul. It had become a sort of custom, as time went on, to leave this to religion, and to tolerate its speculations on the soul, though without taking them seriously. Thus Frederick too was tolerant toward religion; but everything that he recognized as superstition was profoundly odious and repugnant to him. Alien, uncultured, and retarded peoples might occupy themselves with it; in remote antiquity there might have been mystical or magical thinking; but since the birth of

-830-

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