"...how temperate and old he had become, he who had formerly prolonged happy days boisterously into the night and smashed chairs in anger."
Hermann Hesse's fourth novel concerns a family living at the estate Rosshalde. Johann Veraguth and his wife live in separate quarters and lead lives disconnected from one another, joined only by their child, Pierre. Otto Burkhardt, an old friend of Johann's, brings into relief the misery that Johann has sustained, makes him realize the torture that he has endured for years. His friend attempts to persuade Johann to leave, knowing that Pierre, the only light left in his life, cannot follow. The central struggle of the novel is Johann making this difficult decision.
As in Peter Camenzind and Gertrude, Hesse explores the way the artist filters his experience through his art and uses it to give form to the world around him. In this case, Johann is a painter, and each of his paintings reveals much to the reader and provides subtext and foreshadowing. As in all of his novels, Hesse attempts to provide a full, emotional portrait of a complete human being. In his later novels this is intergrated gracefully with the rest of the work, but in Rosshalde the action of the story takes a backseat to the character's emotional state, and story drags throughout.
This novel would be recommended for those who cannot help reading EVERYTHING a particular author has written, but it would behoove them to read it all in one sitting, lest they put it down and never return.