on 23 February 2003
While it is not as fresh as Hesse's first novel Peter Camenzind, as rich and complex as Steppenwolf, or as enlightening as Siddhartha, The Prodigy is still a worthwhile and thought provoking read.
It is set at the beginning of the 20th century and centres on the conflict between freedom and control. By allowing us to see into the life of a talented young prodigy who is slowly being broken by society, the novel forces us to look at ourselves and reflect on how we all, to some extent, have our hopes and dreams twisted by life and other human beings.
As an aside, I prefer the original title, Beneath The Wheel, as I feel it gave a better impression of the grinding that young Hans experiences.
on 17 February 2003
Hesse's critical take on the educational system at the turn of the last century is witty, observant and at time ironic. His hero, Hans Giebenrath, suffers from the pressure piled on to him by his parents and teachers who all believe that a promising student can always - and should always - do more. The pressure leads to a nervous breakdown and eventually to suicidal thoughts.
Given today's educational system and parental pressure to always be better than the Joneses', I felt that this story was ironic in that it is almost 100 years old and yet still rather relevant. If I had read this book 10 years ago, I would have been depressed; or, to be accurate, more depressed than I was at the time.
An excellent read.
on 28 November 2009
As another reviewer warns at the end of their review: If you have the book " BENEATH THE WHEEL ", do not buy this one, as it is the same book under another title.
Not only is " BENEATH THE WHEEL " more evocative of the real subject of the book, although " THE PRODIGY " , is a relevant title as well, but also it is much nearer the German original of " UNTERM RAD ", therefore easier to connect the two.