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Steppenwolf is an outstanding classic. I had no preconceptions about this book - with no previous idea what the book was about. It’s now one of my favourites. The story is about a man who is clearly fed up with life and while he finds some things stimulating is numb to most of life and the world around him. The story evolves from there and really is superb. I loved the part where Hesse describes us as half wolf, half human: when the wolf is in charge it is happy but the human despises it; when the human is in control the wolf despises it. He’s suggesting that whether doing what we think is right OR whether following our animal instincts we’re never fully happy. He then challenges this. Brilliant. And superb narration!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I believed from the prologue that I was probably the sort of person that Hesse had intended for an audience to this book. When you enter a writer's world... that is to say, the world of a good writer, you are taken away from your own world to experience joys and sorrows of the author's creation. Hesse's world quickly became my own, but Hesse took me a step further. When I was reading the Steppenwolf, I believed that I was the Steppenwolf. Harry Haller was me and I was him.
Haller begins as a sick and sorrowful man, a brilliant man and I became him as I found myself trudging through his life. When Holler, and thus myself, came out the other side of the story, we were healed, healthier and a better people for having made the journey. For me, reading this was less of an accomplishment and more of an apotheosis... a transcendence. I wish I could thank Hesse myself for creating this wonderful little masterpiece.
16 of 17 people found this review helpful
There is this bourgeoisie period in every man's life. This midpoint between birth and death where man is trapped alone. Unable to exist in hot or cold of the absolutes he tries to find his way between the extremes in the comfortable center. Fearing life and death, he just exists ... barely. This is not a novel for the young. Just like it is better to save King Lear for late in one's life, it is better to save Steppenwolf for those crisis years of the midlife.
Hesse's novels seem to flirt between the edge of memoir, scripture, prose poem and Eastern philosophy tract. This isn't a book you want to read in a hot bath with scotch in one hand and a razor blade in the other. You will either spill your drink or spill your blood or lose every printed word, the hot water erasing pages and pickling your fingers, toes and time.
There are parts of me that get super irritated by Hesse and parts of me that absolutely love him. It depends, I guess, on what part of me is dominating at the time, which of my selves is dislocated and which is demanding the most.
Somedays, I wonder if I had my druthers I'd be a shepherd and write poetry on rocks. Unfortunately, I am a bourgeoisie bitch cloaking myself in cashmere and not a mangy wolf from the steppes.
35 of 39 people found this review helpful