He's my one historical figure you could share a meal with.
He was once asked if he had anything in common with the prophets in his novels, I'm paraphrasing here but the answer was "No,absolutely not".
The first three pages of Narcissus & Goldmund summarize his writing style from that point forward. Earlier works like Peter Camezind, although extremely well written for a first book, lack the voice he wouldn't find till Narcissus and explore in Siddhartha, Journeys to the East, and Magister Ludi.
His essays, especially those on nationalism are incredible in light of the movement that would follow, the Nazis.