The Journey to the East

Author: Hermann Hesse
Published: 1932
Website: Wikipedia Page

The Journey to the East is one of Hesse’s simplest novels, and his choice of topic (which should be obvious from the title), a pilgrimage to the east, draws heavily from Siddhartha and Hesse’s own interest in eastern culture. Unique to The Journey to the East is that the East is not a Euphemism for Asia, China, or the end of an actual road, but more of a nebulous goal to which the pilgrimaging body known as “The League” is constantly drawn. Hesse’s protagonist and narrator, H. H., is first a novice and then a member of the generically named “League.” And as H. H. and a group of other League members begin their literal pilgrimage toward an unknown destination, they simultaneously embark on a figurative pilgrimage toward knowledge.

H. H. and his group never reach their literal goal, and the story’s first unexpected twist occurs during the dissolution of H. H.’s group of pilgrims; but what makes The Journey to the East seem slightly derivative is that after the first plot twist, every subsequent choice which Hesse’s characters take is quite predictable. Knulp was a wonderful novel because Hesse drew on magical realism and interesting characters to provide the reader with a compelling and surprising story. Sadly The Journey to the East ends exactly as the reader would predict after reading the first two pages; even though the process by which the journeyer achieves his goal is somewhat entertaining.

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