Ehefrau Ninon Ausländer

© Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin

Ninon Ausländer, Dolbin by marriage, achieved the feat of satisfying the needs of the man and writer Hermann Hesse in every single respect, albeit not without moments of suffering and doubt. Ninon, born in 1895in Czernowitz, a small town in the eastern crownlands of the Habsburg monarchy, read Peter Camenzind as a fourteen-year-old schoolgirl and wrote, deeply impressed, to Hermann Hesse. This prompted a steady stream of correspondence between the acclaimed, eighteen year older author and the admiring yet also critical reader. In 1913, Ninon went to Vienna, where she initially studied medicine and later switched to art history, archaeology, and philosophy. It was here, too, that she met her first husband, Fred Dolbin, an engineer by profession, who subsequently made a name for himself as a caricaturist. Her studies later took her to Paris and Berlin. The first meeting with Hesse occurred in 1922 in Montagnola. Their relationship began in Zurich in 1926, at a time when both were preparing to leave their respective spouses, Fred Dolbin and Ruth Wenger. Ninon later visited Hesse at Casa Camuzzi in Montagnola, and later moved in with him on a permanent basis. Hesse soon felt a constant need to have her around him, though was loath to admit this.


In 1927, he wrote the following poem:


For Ninon


Daß du bei mir magst weilen,

Wo doch mein Leben dunkel ist

Und draußen Sterne eilen

Und alles voll Gefunkel ist,


Daß du in dem Getriebe

Des Lebens eine Mitte weißt,

Macht dich und deine Liebe

Für mich zum guten Geist.


In meinem Dunkel ahnst du

Den so verborgnen Stern.

Mit deiner Liebe mahnst du

Mich an des Lebens süßen Kern.