Steppenwolf Perfect Paperback – 15 Mar 2010
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About the Author
Hesse was born in the German state of Württemberg. His father was born a Russian citizen in Weissenstein, Estonia; his mother spent her early years in Talatscheri, India. Both parents served as missionaries in India, and these diverse cultural currents infuse his writing with unusual flavor.
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Top Customer Reviews
Hesse claimed that this work was written to portray some of the feelings of alienation and isolation that the author was feeling around the time of his fiftieth year. Despite being broken into three parts Steppenwolf essentially deals with one theme - that of the main protagonist Harry, and the struggle between his animal instincts and society.
Although Harry is somewhat alien to most of us in his utter and almost innate sadness, he does share with us a great deal. He in essence shares the struggle we all have - the one between instinct and decorum, between sensation and society. Harry is trapped because he is living as a wolf and as a man. The wolf part his base desires and the man the part of him that seeks solace in the music of Beethoven. However in reality both parts of Harry are human in nature. We all live as sensuous beings and at the same time as members of a working society, in which there are rules of conduct that will curtail the beast in us.
Steppenwolf was taken up by sixties counter-culturists as a brick to break down the walls of society around them, finding in its pages a bleak portrait of the world in which we live. The beast within lashed out, ripped the pictures from the walls and called in a new decorator! Necessary as this may have been at the time, this was not the message Hesse intended. Indeed his message was far more universal and timeless. He told us that we should enjoy the fullness of life, soak ourselves in its reveries, mine the pleasures of the intellect, but also learn how to dance and make love, to duck and dive in and out of its many forms of existence. And to do this we must not dispel the man or the beast, but we must let them lie together in an embrace, tumbling through the tides of life
The atmosphere of this book is just perfect, and the mysterious encounters of Steppenwolf and the changing shapes of his own personality are magically portrayed. As Steppenwolf explores his sense of self, the reader gets more and more drawn into his increasingly bizarre and captivating world. Steppenwolf takes the reader with him on his journey, and this is what Hesse does so well.
Although Hesse was concerned that the book might not have wide appeal, in my opinion there is something here for everyone. This is a philosophical novel and as such it doesn't have a traditional storyline. Nevertheless it is extremely engaging and really makes you think.
The only thing missing from this edition (Penguin classics) was an Editor's introduction. I wish there had been one to help explain some of the philosophical issues the novel explores, the wider historical context (as I believe this is an important part of the novel), and some background to Hesse's work. This could only have enhanced my enjoyment of this excellent novel.
It's a story about a middle-aged man who feels so cut off from the world of everyday people that he imagines himself divided in two: a civilized man who loves order, cleanliness, poetry and music, and a savage wolf-like being who loves darkness, lawlessness and wildness. The implications of this division, the associated internal conflict, and his spiritual crisis are worked out as he moves (or is moved) through scenes that are increasingly vivid and bizarre. Along the way, the story touches on aspects of music, war, sex and drugs (which made this a popular read for the sixties counter-culture).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is one of those book which will stay with you forever and every time you'll open it you'll be deeply touched. Existential poetry!Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
Did I miss something here? Does redemption come in the form of prostitutes, drugs and killing people? Read morePublished 19 months ago by Mr Paul R Hill
I ploughed on with this book, not through any level of enjoyment or even by being pulled through with a semblance of a plot, just through sheer determination that this naval-gazing... Read morePublished on 16 Jun. 2012 by AndyCodeMonkey
Well, what can I say? Am I supposed to be reviewing the product or the transaction? I haven't a clue. Read morePublished on 4 Sept. 2011 by Jim