How-To Howl

“I am in truth the Steppenwolf that I often call myself; that beast astray that finds neither home nor joy nor nourishment in a world that is strange and incomprehensible to him.”
― Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf

Steppenwolf written by German author Herman Hesse is beautiful self-portrait of a man. Henry Haller finds himself torn between his two selves: man and wolf. He sees himself as a wolf because  he’s a loner, he rather reads his books and listens to classical music and pursues knowledge. He sees himself as man because he likes wealthier living and comfort that comes with it in stead of finding true purpose of life.

Harry is having hard time  with his multiple personalities and one night he is walking in the old part of the city he lives in. He sees sign over door he has never noticed before: “MAGIC THEATER—ENTRANCE NOT FOR EVERYBODY.”…  “FOR MADMEN ONLY!” He soon meets a woman called Hermione at jazz club and it changes Harry’s  life.

“How foolish it is to wear oneself out in vain longing for warmth! Solitude is independence.”
― Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf

I liked this book. I think it was nicely structured. In preface of the novel you are presented to Harry of the editors point of view who despises him.  Later it focuses on Harry being the Steppenwolf . I somehow connected with Harry, maybe it was because he reads books, maybe because he is confused about himself and feels isolated.  Maybe at times there’s bits of Steppenwolf in all of us at times.

I did not spend too much time with this book and I didn’t especially think about it in more depth. Like did the magical theater exist somewhere else than in Harry’s mind? Who is Hermione? Why was it those immortals that were talking to Harry and why? I think it might be something to to return to.

I would give this book 8½

How-To Read Steppenwolf

1. Steppenwolf is quite short book, about 200 pages, but it takes you longer to read it  if you really think of all the elements of it. f you are familiar with works of Plato, Mozart, Goethe, Spinoza, Nietzsche you could reflect those to this book.
2. Layers, layers, layers after layers.
3.  Is it for madmen only? Give this book a chance, don’t at least say it was just rambling that didn’t make any sense to you.
4. I think you should try reading this many times in your life and see if it changes something.
5.
If you have liked other novels by Herman Hesse, I am pretty sure you will like this one too.

“You are willing to die, you coward, but not to live.”
― Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf

Buy Steppenwolf: A Novel on Amazon

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6 thoughts on “How-To Howl

  1. bookheathen says:

    German literature always seems to me much darker in tone than English. I read this one about ten years ago in the original – maybe I’ll take up the challenge of point 4, when I have time.

    Like

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