March 1st, 2011


Book Review: Steppenwolf, by Hermann Hesse

One-line summary: A man who believes he is a wolf inside struggles to find himself -- yeah, it's one of those novels.

This is not a book about a furry

Published in 1927 (in German), 256 pages

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 mad men only.

Steppenwolf is Hesse's best-known and most autobiographical work. With its blend of Eastern mysticism and Western culture, it is one of literature's most poetic evocations of the soul's journey to liberation. Originally published in English in 1929, the novel';s wisdom continues to speak to our souls and marks it as a classic of modern literature.

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Verdict: It's hard for me to properly evaluate this one, it really is. I've said a lot of less-than-laudatory things about this book, and I didn't honestly find it a particularly enjoyable read, nor was it moving or life-changing, but it was... interesting, and I can imagine someone who identifies with Harry Haller a little bit more feeling that it speaks to them. And Hesse really is one of those writers you should read before you die. So I'd hate to think that my rather acerbic review would discourage someone else from reading it: if you find the description interesting, then you probably should read it.

That said, my final verdict is still: Wanker!

This was my fifth review for the books1001 challenge. Let us see what the Random Number Generator assigns me next...