Jump to content



Recommended Posts

From Amazon : At first sight Harry Haller seems a respectable, educated man. In reality he is the Steppenwolf: wild, strange, alienated from society and repulsed by the modern age. But as he is drawn into a series of dreamlike and sometimes savage encounters - accompanied by, among others, Mozart, Goethe and the bewitching Hermione - the misanthropic Haller discovers a higher truth, and the possibility of happiness. This blistering portrayal of a man who feels himself to be half-human and half-wolf was the bible of the 1960s counterculture, capturing the mood of a disaffected generation, and remains a haunting story of estrangement and redemption.


Could not have said it better myself.  I did feel the profundity in this book and very powerful it is too.  Beware though, the book makes clear that Haller is seriously considering suicide so if that could upset you don't read it.  Other than that, highly recommended.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 years later...

The mid-life crisis manifesto.

This is a wonderful book that plays with some important ideas (especially if you're over 40). First of all, the writing is sublime, fluid, flowing, and intensely engaging (for me at least). The sentences pulled me along with such entertainment until I discovered that I'd read far more pages than I realised, to such an extent that I almost regretted finishing each part. Hesse really does draw you in and allow you to enjoy the ride with such ease, his writing smooth and crisp, almost refreshing in its ability to seduce you. I loved every minute of it.

The plot is essentially one that's been seen before: suicidal man (Harry Haller) seeks meaning. At the age of 47, he has decided that 50 will be the threshold for crossing over into death, one way or another. It almost brings him a sense a peace that this date is so nearby. But after discovering a tract (a pamphlet) regarding the Steppenwolf (those outside of life who struggle with their many personalities and traits), plus an unpleasant meal with a professor friend, his suicidal nature becomes more acute. He goes to a bar to avoid going home because he believes he will use the razor to cut his own throat if he does (something he doesn't entirely want to do). Here, he meets Hermione, who in turn introduces him to the world of dancing, jazz, and drugs as well as her friends Pablo and Maria (she being a prostitute Hermione provides to Harry). The book then ends with a ball and a magic theatre which, like other parts the book, has hallucinatory dream-like qualities.

This book engages with the surreal, the other, the magical; and there are philosophical questions to be answered. Truth be told, more is going on here than meets the eye and I think you can interpret the book in many ways. Personally, I have concluded that most of it was an invention of his own wandering mind (this theory heavily influenced by the opening 'editor's preface' which is given to us by the nephew of Steppenwolf's landlady). I also couldn't help notice the similarities with Dazai's 'No Longer Human' when it comes to the use of found notebooks. I find it hard to believe that Dazai wasn't directly influenced by this. Like that wonderful book, this is about a misanthrope searching for meaning but while Dazai has no answers and ultimately focuses on the darkness, I couldn't help but feel Hesse has a more optimistic outlook. The life we live within ourselves is, after all, just as important as what we see around us.

There is no reality except the one contained within us. That is why so many people live such an unreal life. They take the images outside of them for reality and never allow the world within to assert itself.”



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Similar Content

    • By lunababymoonchild
      Published in 1930 this is set in Medieval times and is about two men, Narcissus and Goldmund.  Narcissus struggles with becoming a monk and Goldmund starts off as his pupil but leaves to become what's termed as a wayfarer - someone who is homeless and travels a lot.
      Both men come to terms with their chosen way of life and meet again, seeing much change in each other. Narcissus does not regret his life but Goldmund regrets his. 
      This is beautifully written and absolutely absorbing. 
    • By Claire
      I bought this book with some birthday book tokens - looking for some big, fat novels that would take ages to read, and that would be different from anything I'd read before (no point spending tokens on something I'll finish in a day or two - I'll buy those sort of books second hand!)
      It worked on both counts - a really strange book, and rather densely written, so 10 or so pages at a time was plenty, especially at the start while I was figuring out what was going on.
      It's set a few centuries in the future, although there is no advanced technology at all, so it's certainly doesn't feel like sci-fi. It tells of a culture dedicated to the playing of "The Glass Bead Game" which is a kind of weird abstraction of all the arts and sciences, reduced to their essential patterns (yeah, I had to work hard to get a grip on that) We follow one extremely talented boy as he progresses up the hierarchy to the very top of this introverted, sheltered society, and what he finds when he got there.
      I'd never even heard of this book, until I saw it in Waterstones, but a few days after I started reading it, I turned Radio 4 on and was surprised to find the very same book was being dramatised as the Classic Serial. (The first episode is still available on Listen Again for three more days...Classic Serial: The Glass Bead Game
      Very strange, but rather readable and some very interesting ideas about how societies develop and interact with each other!
      It was written in Germany, in the 1950s, and I'm just starting to wonder how that context shaped what was written.
      Anyone else even heard of this, never mind read it!?
    • By lunababymoonchild
      Set in India, Siddhartha is the story of a young Brahmin's search for ultimate reality after meeting with the Buddha. His quest takes him from a life of decadence to asceticism, from the illusory joys of sensual love with a beautiful courtesan, and of wealth and fame, to the painful struggles with his son and the ultimate wisdom of renunciation. - taken from the review on Amazon
      The book is short and I enjoyed it but I didn't see anything deep and meaninful in this work, which is probably my fault.
  • Create New...