Hesse to Stefan Zweig

Gaienhofen is a beautiful tiny little village, has no railway station, no shops, no industry, not even its own priest, meaning that I had to traipse across fields for half an hour in the most awful rain to get to the funeral of a neighbour this morning. There is no running water, so I have to get all the water from the well, no craftsman, meaning that I have to carry out necessary repairs to the house myself, and no butcher, so I have to fetch meat, sausage, etc., by crossing the lake in a boot to the nearest town in the Thurgau region. Yet there is peace and quiet, good air and water, splendid cattle, magnificent fruit, good, upstanding folk. I have no company other than that of my wife and our cat. I live in a rented farmhouse for which I pay rent of 150 (one hundred and fifty) marks a year. Long live Peter Camenzind! Without him, I would not have been able to marry and move here. It has earned me 2,500 marks, a sum that I can live off for two years - at least if I continue to live here. The fame that I was originally looking forward to is not quite as much fun as I thought it would be. Schoolteachers and clubs write hard-nosed business letters soliciting free copies of my works One journalist wrote saying that he wanted to interview me for a book about Zeitgenossen (“Famous Figures Of Today”). I wrote back advising him to check into a hydrotherapy institute. That was while I was still in Calw. Nobody bothers to come out here to Gaienhofen - it’s too far off the beaten track. The letters etc. have, incidentally, fallen away somewhat, and things are becoming calmer. My wedding went off at a gallop. Since the father-in-law doesn’t agree to the marriage and wants to know nothing of me, I rode on into Basel just when he happened to be out of town, and off we went - subitissimo - to the registry office. Now, the old man is thundering from afar, yet would appear to be gradually calming down. And now I am a married man, the gypsy existence having come to an end for the time being. Yet the little lady is sweet and sensible. She does not, however, know that I today ordered a little cask of wine. The local wine is disgracefully sour.”


From H. Hesse, Gesammelte Briefe, Vol. 1 © Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin