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Steppenwolf

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Overview

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 ...

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Steppenwolf: A Novel

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

While it's good for a titter to picture Peter Weller in full RoboCop gear reading Hesse's classic novel of intellectual absorption with the primeval, it is not entirely necessary for full appreciation of his reading. Weller, who has a Midwestern folksy personability, reads Hesse less as a work of great literature than a philosophical manual, meant to be studied for personal improvement. Hesse can be forbidding, even for the teenage readers who often discover literature through him, so Weller wisely renders his novel familiar, comfortable and friendly. Currently wrapping up a Ph.D. at UCLA in Italian Renaissance art history, Weller has clearly been taking lessons in sounding professorial-entirely apropos here. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312278670
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 12/28/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 75,374
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Hermann Hesse was born in Germany in 1877 and later became a citizen of Switzerland. As a Western man profoundly affected by the mysticism of Eastern thought, he wrote novels, stories, and essays bearing a vital spiritual force that has captured the imagination and loyalty of many generations of readers. His works include Steppenwolf, Narcissus and Goldmund, and The Glass Bead Game. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1946. Hermann Hesse died in 1962.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 31 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(22)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2009

    Introspective and Thought-provoking

    Steppenwolf tells the story of alienated intellectual Harry Haller and his mid-life crisis. Actually, to say that this book tells a story is a bit misleading. Steppenwolf is not the book for you if you are looking for a riveting, action filled plot and a literal, straightforward ending. Steppenwolf is riveting in an entirely different way. It provides a window into Harry's troubled soul. The physical world and its inhabitants take a backseat to Haller's rich, symbol-laden inner realms.

    Although written in the 1920's, Steppenwolf reached a height of popularity in the 1960's and 1970's. The little action that does take place in this book largely revolves around Harry's introduction to jazz club night life and his casual affair with a pretty young courtesan. The closing sequence, an intense, surrealistic immersion in the "Magic Theater" of Harry's mind, is popularly interpreted as a drug-induced hallucination. Due to these themes, Steppenwolf is sometimes touted as a vindication of free-love and drug culture. I believe that this is a somewhat limiting interpretation of the book. Hesse's writings chronicle his own development as a person. In his earlier novel Demian, one character observes "If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself." In Steppenwolf, Hesse portrays a man who must come to terms with those rejected parts of himself, particularly those he finds most shallow, sensual, and animalistic. The symbolism is heavily influenced by Hesse's experience with Jungian analysis, and having some familiarity with Jung's ideas greatly helps in understanding the odder portions of the novel. The Magic Theater sequence presents and recommends a ruthlessly honest self-examination, followed by an expansion of consciousness beyond the self. Such experiences are accessible to people in many forms of deep mediation and psychological therapies as well as through drugs.

    In a wonderful paradox, Hesse wrote frankly individualistic autobiographical fiction, yet hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people have identified themselves strongly with Hesse's characters. Steppenwolf is not for everyone. Most people seem to have a strong positive or negative reaction to this kind of work. I found this a powerful, thought provoking read, and highly recommend it for introspective readers.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2005

    a 'Mindfull' Thriller

    Only Hesse can make a reader tremble as he/she reads about himself; self projected images abound.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2004

    Truely for Madmen only

    Hesse has managed to bring out a beauty in misery. It's an excellent book, poetically writen, touching story, and a good challenge for the mind.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2004

    What a read

    Steppenwolf, a novel that is wriiten in a sophisticated way, slightly unusual for Hesse. I enjoyed the book althougth I held reservations due to reviews about a man who was stuck on war. After reading this book I saw a man who was longing for the childhood past, a boy who dreamed of the child kindled inside his heart. This book is a great read and I guarantee you will pick-up a vocab word or two.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2011

    Highly recommended

    Best translation, by far.

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  • Posted January 7, 2011

    A Must--A Universal Work of Mind and Spirit

    Steppenwolf defines the universal personal struggle of man with his duality of self, his spirit (or mind) and the flesh. This struggle often leads many to heightened despair and depression in a mediocre and ultimately meaningless and comical everyday life. What lays in the balance of the struggle is happiness in this absurd world. Hesse captures perfectly this self-conflict through his story and images of the Steppenwolf, Harry Heller, an individual caught between two worlds. When Harry meets Hermine, a lovely and inspiring woman(in someways an illusive part of his own ego), his life changes through her direction and actions upon his desperate and conflicted life. His life takes a final turn when he enters a place "For Madmen Only". Through his prose and poetry, Hesse provides a mystical and spiritualistic journey that reflects and defines every man's battle to find himself beyond the limits of his duality of his person. Anyone of of substance of intellect and spirit will identify and benefit from this novel. For some, especially those in heightened states of despair and disillusionment, will find the book a leveling agent or will take it as an elixir for heightening depression. Hesse illustrates and defines perfectly the state of personal conflict most find in themselves on there path through life and self discovery. Hesse explores the unifying principles of healthy personality.

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  • Posted August 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    NEED TO RE-READ

    NEED TO THINK LIKE A "RECLUSIVE INTELLECTUAL". I NEED TO READ IT AGAIN TO UNDERSTAND JUST WHAT HERMANN IS TRYING TO SAY.
    THE POPE LIKED THIS ??????

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2006

    Not enough pictures

    Pictures weren't in color and were few and far between.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2005

    worth a read...several in fact

    I first read this book when I was in middle school...and it was very confusing. I read it again my senior year in highschool, and because the teacher was into psycho-analyzing books, we got a throrough analysis of Hermann Hesse's meaning in Steppenwolf. Once I understood what it meant, I could read the book and understand its appeal. It's thought provoking, sophisticated, philosophical and at the same time emotionally wrenching. I'm a fan of psychology in literature, and I appreciate it's worth as a result. I would recommend anyone to read this book...as long as they took a discussion course with it as well to fully understand it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2004

    it´s hesse, nuff said

    A must read, really reflects much of hesse´s own approach to life. Although the ending is strange and prone to misinterpretation, the treatise of the steppenwolf alone is enough to occupy hours and hours of reflection.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2001

    Warning: This book is not for the ordinary

    I have only read 'Steppenwolf' once, but I think that, because I had to backtrack and reread so much, I have actually read the book at least two or three times. It is an awesome book. It really made me force myself to learn to think and feel. I'm glad I read it.

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    Posted December 3, 2008

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    Posted July 22, 2011

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    Posted December 25, 2009

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    Posted September 4, 2011

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    Posted October 27, 2008

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    Posted January 9, 2010

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    Posted February 7, 2014

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    Posted February 11, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2009

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews

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