Writing to the woman who would become his third wife, Hermann Hesse complained: “Life for me now holds almost no pleasures any more, in fact I am living in Hell.” The event that had reduced Hesse to this state of near-despair was that his wife-to-be Ninon Dolbin had moved some of his books without his permission. For him this was an intolerable disruption of the orderly existence he believed essential to a writer who had detached himself from the world. His independence required that he hold all of humankind, and even his closest companion, at a rigorously policed distance. Accordingly, although the two of them lived under the same roof, he communicated with Ninon mainly in writing. As his latest biographer, Gunnar Decker, relates: .....

I am going to translate this in a different language. I am not sure when it says she “had moved some of his books” what would a native english reader of this article see in his or her mind! Does moving here mean to take with herself after divorce ? Or to throw them away? Or just transferring to an unknown place? I understand that probably the last one is more probable for translation, but still needs some expert advice to translate this part please?

  • By the way, she is said to be his " wife-to-be" and "the woman who would become his third wife" so this is not after a divorce but before their marriage. I suppose he got over his negative feelings about the books. Mar 22, 2019 at 3:14

2 Answers 2


She moved the books from one location to another. This could mean that she moved the entire collection, e.g. from one room to another, or perhaps she simply rearranged the books, such that the collection was in the same location but in a different order.


She replaced the books without his permission and this disturbed his orderly existence. Maybe he was autistic? People who are autistic do not take changes in life lightly.

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