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Der Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
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Der Steppenwolf (original 1927; edition 1927)

by Hermann Hesse

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,582137397 (4.02)224
Member:zerkalo
Title:Der Steppenwolf
Authors:Hermann Hesse
Info:Suhrkamp Verlag
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:german literature, classic, fiction, 20th century, nobel prize, Hesse

Work details

Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse (Author) (1927)

  1. 72
    Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse (PandorasRequiem)
  2. 40
    Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre (GaryPatella)
    GaryPatella: The protagonist in Nausea has a very similar personality to the protagonist in Steppenwolf. Both books have that same gloomy feel to them.
  3. 30
    The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster (Smiler69)
  4. 31
    Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (snipermatze, chwiggy)
  5. 10
    Herzog by Saul Bellow (roby72)
  6. 32
    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (owen1218)
  7. 11
    Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (paradoxosalpha)
    paradoxosalpha: Fight Club could be read as an updated rewriting of Steppenwolf, with Hermine replaced by Tyler Durden, and the dance hall transformed to the fight club. Maria becomes Marla, and the Magic Theater becomes Operation Mayhem.
  8. 11
    The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann (caflores)
  9. 11
    The Hothouse by Wolfgang Koeppen (Liondancer)
    Liondancer: Die Persönlichkeit des "Treibhaus"-Abgeordneten Keetenheuve erinnert mich sehr an den "Steppenwolf" Harry Haller.
  10. 00
    Abel Sanchez and Other Stories by Miguel de Unamuno (Neurasthenio)
  11. 26
    Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (Smiler69)
  12. 28
    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (roby72)
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» See also 224 mentions

English (110)  Spanish (10)  German (5)  French (5)  Italian (2)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (137)
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Leyendo
  frajimflo | Mar 6, 2019 |
This was meaningful in my early 20s; I don't have any inclination for a reread. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |


Many literary novels are page-turners, filled with a compelling, straightforward storyline and lots of action; think of Our Mutual Friend and Crime and Punishment, think of Heart of Darkness and No Country for Old Men, or novels like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.

Hermann Hesse's novel Steppenwolf is a work of a completely different cast; a reader might find the story gripping, even riveting, but for much different reasons, for the action takes place not in a major city or obscure outpost but primarily in the mind.

Our first introduction to main character Harry Haller is through the eyes of the thirty-something middle-class nephew of Haller's landlady. The nephew observes how Haller lives a lonely, unsocial life and refers to himself as an old Steppenwolf. The nephew's curiosity prompts him to enter Harry's room, where he discovers stacks of books by authors such as Goethe, Jean Paul, and Dostoevsky; a statue of the Buddha; a photo of Gandhi; empty brandy bottles; and half-smoked cigars. In a word, living quarters bespeaking a chaotic, artistic lifestyle.

The nephew explains how Harry suddenly vanishes from the apartment, leaving a manuscript entitled "HARRY HALLER'S RECORDS" that warns potential readers that what follows is "FOR MADMEN ONLY." It is this record that comprises the remainder of the novel. Harry records how he has two natures in conflict: one as a reflective, refined, cultivated gentleman, and the other a wild wolf of the steppes. As such, he is a Steppenwolf, a despiser and destroyer of the middle class who is at the same time supported and comforted by the middle class. Harry's conflict causes him to become so depressed that he sets his fiftieth birthday as the date for taking his own life.

But life has other plans for Harry the Steppenwolf. We read how Harry encounters a dreamlike inscription over a door in the old section of town. Then the fun begins. Harry's identity and view of reality are challenged by a series of happenings, most notably meeting the beautiful young Hermine, who can be considered in a number of ways: as Harry's double, his doppelgänger; as a reflection of Harry's inner, spiritual self; or as a Jungian archetypal, female part of his psyche - his `anima.'

Hesse wrote Steppenwolf fresh from his own Jungian psychoanalytic experience. Indeed, Hesse plays with the idea of doubles, mirrors, and archetypes throughout this novel. Harry's world is further jazzed up with the entrée of jazz saxophonist/shape-shifter/sensualist Pablo and the beautiful and voluptuous Maria. Jazz, dancing, drugs, and sex all contribute to the death of the formerly old and depressed Harry, transforming him into a revitalized man poised for a full range of experiences at the much-anticipated masked ball.

The masked ball is the final section of the novel. In one of the inner rooms Harry encounters the Magic Theater, which enlarges any previous notions he might have held of both magic and theater. Harry is informed that there is a definite admission price to this theater: "PRICE OF ADMISSION YOUR MIND." Pablo explains to Harry how the theater has as many doors and boxes as one pleases, ten or a hundred or a thousand, and how "behind each door exactly what you seek awaits you."

Wild! And as we enter and move through the Magic Theater, things become progressively wilder. Recall how Timothy Leary encouraged users of LSD to consult this part of Hesse's novel as a manual to negotiate their hallucinogen-induced trips. Hesse would probably have objected to Leary's statement: He wrote in 1961, "... it seems to me that of all of my books Steppenwolf is the one that was more often and more violently misunderstood than any other, and frequently it is actually the affirmative and enthusiastic readers, rather than those who rejected the book, who have reacted to it oddly."

On this point I agree with Hesse--you need not take LSD to enter The Magic Theater; what you really need is openness and imagination, along with the willingness to courageously peer into the subconscious and unconscious areas of your own psyche. If you have a few decades of adult experience, as Hesse evidently hopes, so much the better. ( )
1 vote Glenn_Russell | Nov 13, 2018 |
My favorite book. ( )
  bookishblond | Oct 24, 2018 |
well, like life, parts of the book made total sense, were beautifully conveyed, parts were totally bizarre, there was some violent weirdness, and parts were rather dismal. overall, I really liked the book and enjoyed it more than maybe anything I've read in the last year. ( )
  bluegate | Feb 25, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (64 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hesse, HermannAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bļodniece, AlīdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bļodnieks, ĢirtsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bradac, JaroslavIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Creighton, BasilTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dekker, MauritsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Horrocks, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Magnus, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manner, Eeva-LiisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pocar, ErvinoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sorell, WalterEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book contains the records left us by a man whom, according to the expression he often used himself, we called the Steppenwolf.
Quotations
Ah, Harry, we have to stumble through so much dirt and humbug before we reach home. And we have no one to guide us. Our only guide is our homesickness.
I had the taste of blood and chocolate in my mouth, the one as hateful as the other.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312278675, Paperback)

With its blend of Eastern mysticism and Western culture, Hesse’s best-known and most autobiographical work is one of literature’s most poetic evocations of the soul’s journey to liberation

Harry Haller is a sad and lonely figure, a reclusive intellectual for whom life holds no joy. He struggles to reconcile the wild primeval wolf and the rational man within himself without surrendering to the bourgeois values he despises. His life changes dramatically when he meets a woman who is his opposite, the carefree and elusive Hermine. The tale of the Steppenwolf culminates in the surreal Magic Theater—For Madmen Only!

Originally published in English in 1929, Steppenwolf ’s wisdom continues to speak to our souls and marks it as a classic of modern literature.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:28 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"With its blend of Eastern mysticism and Western culture, Hesse's best-known and most autobiographical work is one of literature's most poetic evocations of the soul's journey to liberation."--Publisher's website.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 10 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014118289X, 0141045531, 0241951526, 0141192097

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