An update on various prizes associated with Hermann Hesse
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In the years since Hermann Hesse’s death in 1962, a variety of prizes have been founded to promote or recognize work which furthers the understanding of Hermann Hesse’s writings or to recognize works of other authors generally. Following is an overview of several of these prizes and their most recent prizewinners.
The oldest of these prizes is the Hermann-Hesse-Literaturpreis (Hermann Hesse Literatur Prize), which was founded in 1957 by the Förderungsgemeinschaft der deutschen Kunst e.V. Karlsruhe with the agreement of both Hermann Hesse and his publisher, Peter Suhrkamp. In agreeing to the prize, Hesse said, “Mit dem Karlsruher Hessepreis bin ich einverstanden. Da die junge Dichtung damit etwas gewinnt, mag sie durch meinen Namen immerhin an Vergangenheit und Tradition erinnert werden. [I am in agreement with the Hesse Prize in Karlsruhe. So that the newest poetry can gain something, let it at least be remembered through my name on the past and tradition.]” At the time of its founding, the prize was among the highest-paying awards in the German-speaking world, and the first recipient was one of Suhrkamp’s own authors: Martin Walser for his novel Marriage in Philippsburg. The recipient of 2018’s prize was Thomas Hettche, for his unsere leeren Herzen, a collection of essays on literature, published by Kiepenheuer & Witsch in 2017.
The Calwer Hermann-Hesse-Stiftung (Calw Hermann Hesse Foundation) awards every two years the Internationale Hermann-Hesse-Preis (International Hermann Hesse Prize) to an author and to the translator who have published “a work in the spirit of Hermann Hesse of international renown”. The prize is funded by the Sparkasse Pforzheim Calw and the Südwestrundfunk Baden-Baden, and was last awarded in 2018 to the Polish writer Joanna Bator and her translator Esther Kinsky. The Foundation also awards stipends to writers and translators, enabling them to work for three months in Calw bringing larger works to completion.
Finally, the recently-founded International Hermann Hesse Society awards its eponymous Prize to those who, in the spirit of Hermann Hesse, engage themselves for intercultural and interreligious dialog and those who are worthy in the spirit of Hermann Hesse’s work. The Prize includes a 10,000 Euro award funded by Hesse’s granddaughter, Sibylle Siegenthaler-Hesse, and the jury includes both the President of the Society, Karl-Josef Kuschel, and the Director of the Hermann Hesse Museum in Montagnola, Regina Bucher. The 2019 recipient of the Prize is the theologian and psychotherapist Eugen Drewermann, who will be awarded in May during the Society’s meeting.