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Education, death and awakening: Hesse, Freire and the process of transformation

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Education is a key theme in a number of Hermann Hesse's novels and short stories. This paper focuses on Hesse's last and longest fictional work, The Glass Bead Game, and analyses the transformation of Joseph Knecht, the central character, in the light of Paulo Freire's theory of education. It is argued that over time Knecht develops a critical consciousness, becoming less certain of his certainties, more aware of his own incompleteness, and increasingly convinced of the importance of teaching. Dialogue plays a pivotal role in the development of Knecht's critical awakening and his understanding of himself and his vocation as a human being. The paper discusses the relationship between conscientisation and contemplation, considers the significance of death as a theme in the novel, and reflects on some of the educational implications arising from Hesse's work.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02601370802568432

Affiliations: College of Education, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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