52 Books a Year: #26 - Steppenwolf

Posted by Brian Sun, 06 Dec 2009 04:47:12 GMT

By Herman Hesse


There are some books that you don’t know what to think about when you finish them. Steppenwolf was one of those books for me. At its core Steppenwolf is the tale of a man finally emerging into the world. The Steppenwolf is an intellectual man who falls in with the artistic crowd, which he has always disdained, when he is at his lowest and contemplating suicide. Before this he has spent most of his time reading (kind of amusing for someone reading as much as me) and writing. After a brief intro, Steppenwolf is supposed to be the title figures writing that his been found by a housemate.

The most confusing part is the ending. The Steppenwolf enters a test of sorts under the influence of psychedelic drugs. Combined with the weirdness of the situation in general it is difficult to tell what is actually going on and their is ambiguity at the end as to whether he has actually committed murder or whether it was just part of the hallucination.

Herman Hesse considered Steppenwolf to be his most misunderstood work. Published in 1927, it presented a world of drug use and ambiguous morality in a time where these ideas were highly controversial. The book was perceived as too pessimistic, when he viewed it as a story of transcendence and healing. I tend to agree with Hesse that the story is largely driven by the Steppenwolf transcending his previous views of humanity and life in general. Read it for yourself though. It is very short and can easily be read in a day.


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