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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: .........

When it says “ required that he hold of all humankind” can you paraphrase it so that I would be able to translate it to a different language please? Can I say “ it required that he monitor every person” ?

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Can I say “ it required that he monitor every person” ?

"monitor every person"? Not necessarily that.

In this case, "hold" doesn't mean "to have or keep in the hand." Rather, one of these alternate definitions:

  • to keep in a specified state, relation, etc.:
    The preacher held them spellbound.
  • to detain:
    The police held him at the station house.
  • to keep back from action; hinder; restrain:
    Fear held him from acting.

Original sentence: His independence required that he hold all of humankind, and even his closest companion, at a rigorously policed distance.

Rephrasing: He must hinder/restrain/detain/keep all people so they stay a safe distance away from him.

Is the meaning more clear now?

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