Repository logo

‘How to become what you are’: Self-becoming and individuation in Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo and Hesse’s Demian and Steppenwolf

Published version

Change log


Crew, Thomas 


jats:p In this essay I consider the theme of individuation or self-becoming in Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo (1888) and Hesse’s Demian (1917) and Steppenwolf (1927). Although this task appears inter-disciplinary, Nietzsche’s autobiography can be considered a Bildungsroman in which ‘Nietzsche’ plays the protagonist. After showing the correspondences between Nietzsche’s and Hesse’s diagnoses of contemporary Europe, which can be summed up with the notion of ‘decadence’ or nihilism, I suggest that they both point towards the process of self-becoming as the ultimate remedy for both the individual and society. Self-becoming is a painful yet necessary process that holds the repeated destruction of the individual’s identity as the precondition for attaining the status of human being. It is a process implied by Nietzsche’s ‘formula for human greatness’: amor fati. Resistance to individuation leads to a state of ‘miserable ease’, embodied by what Hesse calls the ‘bourgeois’ and what Nietzsche terms the ‘last men’. </jats:p>



47 Language, Communication and Culture, 4705 Literary Studies

Journal Title

Journal of European Studies

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



SAGE Publications