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Steppenwolf


lunababymoonchild
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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.

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  • 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.”

 

9/10

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