Steppenwolf

Steppenwolf

Book - 2002 | 1st Picador USA ed
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"With its blend of Eastern mysticism and Western culture, Hesse's best-known and most autobiographical work is one of literature's most poetic evocations of the soul's journey to liberation. Harry Haller is a sad and lonely figure, a reclusive intellectual for whom life holds no joy. He struggles to reconcile the wild primeval wolf and the rational man within himself without surrendering to the bourgeois values he despises. His life changes dramatically when he meets a woman who is his opposite, the carefree and elusive Hermine. The tale of the Steppenwolf culminates in the surreal Magic Theater--For Madmen Only! Originally published in English in 1929, Steppenwolf's wisdom continues to speak to our souls and marks it as a classic of modern literature."--Publisher's website.
Publisher: New York : Picador, 2002
Edition: 1st Picador USA ed
ISBN: 9780312278670
0312278675
Call Number: FICTION HESSE 2002
Characteristics: vi, 218 pages ; 21 cm

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(1927)
"With its blend of Eastern mysticism and Western culture, Hesse's best-known and most autobiographical work is one of literatures most poetic evocations of the souls journey to liberation. Harry Haller is a sad and lonely figure, a reclusive intellectual for whom life holds no joy. H... Read More »


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carolwu96
Aug 12, 2020

This is the most confusing book I have read in a while. It was recommended to me by my partner, who loved it upon reading it in high school. (yes, in high school, while I just read it and had absolutely no idea what was going on!) ⁣

Where should I start.... Maybe with the plot? The story revolves around a middle-aged man named Harry Haller, who calls himself “Steppenwolf” after his self-identified animalistic side and suffers from feelings of societal nonconformity and consequent emotional isolation. However, a girl named Hermine then appears and waltzes him into a world occupied by everything he had previously scorned. ⁣

This book tackles difficult themes including the relationship between the individual and society, asceticism and hedonism, fantasy and reality, and middle-age and existential crises. ⁣

These philosophical musings frustrated me at times, mostly because it evokes a problem I myself have been struggling with for quite some time: is deep contemplation the only route to a fruitful life? ⁣

Harry seems to be stuck with a common predicament here: we do not have the determination to live upon intellectual fulfillment alone, and yet there is an urge to measure life through such exchanges. Oh happy is the man who scampers after the gold! People who are incentivized by physical and material desires can derive meaning from such accomplishments, while certain others will become overwhelmed and despondent no matter what they choose. ⁣

By now it should be clear that I have no idea what the book was all about, but the writing was rather beautiful especially considering it was originally written in German. So here is a little snippet to tie up our review with a bow, slate clean just like life itself: ⁣

Solitude is independence. It had been my wish and with the years I had gained it. It was cold. Oh, cold enough! But it was also still, wonderfully still and cast like the cold stillness of space in which the stars revolve.

For more book and movie reviews, visit me on Instagram @ RandomStuffIRead :)

t
TheodoreHarmon
Aug 14, 2018

The story of a man who intellectualized himself into being a pompous recluse- Then tore down those classist/sophisticate protections that were imprisoning him. And, perhaps it's good to have the humility to believe your icons would laugh at you. Interestingly, there's also comments (written before You-Know-Who really had massive sway) about the German populace wanting to get right back into a war; how they were ignoring 'the millions in the ground' in coming to this feeling. He also alludes to his actual troubles during WW I when he made an inadvertent comment and got (figuratively) ripped apart by the militarists. Hesse, in life, finally admitted he 'drank the Kool-Aid;' writing for consumption and not truth.

Oberösterreich99 Jan 18, 2018

I profoundly enjoyed this book, however you can not read this book for merely the story, you really have to think about what is going on, and think about whether certain parts are simply symbolism, or actually taking place. If you stop and think throughout the book about Haller's perception of the world, and his interactions with it you will find that it much more enjoyable and a rewarding experience!

c
candlesticktroughs
Jul 05, 2017

what I saw parallels with, is, Kafka. " 'Pablo!' I cried, with a convulsive start. 'Pablo, where are we?' 'we are in my magic theatre,' he said, with a smile, 'and if you wish at any time to learn the tango or to be a general or to have a talk with alexander the great, it is always at your service, but I am bound to say, harry, you have disappointed me a little. you forgot yourself badly. you broke through the humor of my little theatre and tried to make a mess of it, stabbing with knives and spattering our pretty picture-world with the mud of reality. that was not pretty of you.' "Mozart looked at me with intolerable mockery,'how pathetic you always are....off with you to the public prosecutor and let the law take its course with you till your head is coolly hacked off at the break of dawn in the prison courtyard.'" "she drew my hands slowly to her lips and laid them beneath the clothes on her warm and evenly breathing breast...slowly I drew the clothes from her lovely body till my kisses reached her feet. when I lay down beside her, her flower face smiled back at me omniscient and bountiful."

a
adam_cooper
Feb 19, 2017

Can anyone else see parallels between this book and Mulholland Drive?

s
Sarah1984
May 06, 2016

28/1 - The opening chapter, the 'editor's note', was quite interesting, but now that we've moved on to Haller's words I'm bored to sleep (as opposed to tears). I really have no idea what he's waffling on about. I see a DNF looming in the near, if not immediate, future. I was able to get it renewed at the library, so I've got till the 17th to make up my mind. Btw, as far as I'm concerned, as long as I attempt the book it still counts towards my PopSugar Challenge, so I feel no compulsion to keep reading just for the challenge. I think that's fair and keeping to the rules, so there. To be continued...

30/1 - I give up! This may be TMI, but I always take a book with me to the toilet. There, I said it. I read in the toilet. Anyway, I read the last 18 pages during my most recent visit to the throne room, so this damn book had a pretty captive audience. It's not like I could put it down and go get another one mid visit. I was going to attempt to make it to 100 pages before I threw my hands up in disgust, but while reading just now I realised that I was reading the words but nothing was making any sense. I was reading the book within the book, the pamphlet Haller found in his pocket, 'On Steppenwolf: A Tract. Not for everybody.' The main things I got from this book within a book were that Hesse seemed to be being vaguely insulting to people with suicidal ideations and that there was way too much 'deep thought' going on within the plot. I've read a few classics in the last year, but this has to be the most difficult and the most filled with subtext and themes. Below is the final passage that just tipped me over the edge to DNF.

'Only humour - the splendid invention of those highly talented but unfortunate individuals who are frustrated in the pursuit of the highest ideals, figures bordering on the tragic - only humour (possibly the most original and brilliant of humankind's achievements) can accomplish the otherwise impossible feat of uniting all spheres of human life by bathing them in the iridescent light of its prisms. To live in the world as though it were not the world, to respect the law but to remain above it, to have possessions 'as if not possessing', to renounce things as though it were no renunciation: all the things asked of us in such well-loved and frequently expressed words of wisdom can only be put into practice through humour.'

What the HELL does all that MEAN? That indecipherable paragraph was the final straw for my overloaded brain. So I quit! DNF at page 59, but this attempt still applies for my PopSugar Reading Challenge.

NumberNemo Jul 10, 2011

A classic written for the 5% who could understand the intricate forms of story and not stray along the way.

j
jawl
Sep 11, 2010

I'm glad I pushed through the miserable first 100 pages.

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