Book Recommendation: Der Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse.

Started by Elektrolurch, April 02, 2013, 03:11:45 PM

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I liked the idea of recommendation threads, so here's my first one.

It's about a book, written and published in 1927, which became a symbol for the hippie movement, drugs like Cocaine and Opium are objectively glorified and depicted as man's best friend, as long as man applies sanity to the use. It's an exciting trip through consciousness and human nature, being philosophically deep and emotional. Read for yourself and decide for your own. :)

"The book is presented as a manuscript by its protagonist, a middle-aged man named Harry Haller, who leaves it to a chance acquaintance, the nephew of his landlady. The acquaintance adds a short preface of his own and then has the manuscript published. The title of this "real" book-in-the-book is Harry Haller's Records (For Madmen Only).

As it begins, the hero is beset by reflections on his being ill-suited for the world of everyday, regular people, specifically for frivolous bourgeois society. In his aimless wanderings about the city he encounters a person carrying an advertisement for a magic theatre who gives him a small book, Treatise on the Steppenwolf. This treatise, cited in full in the novel's text as Harry reads it, addresses Harry by name and strikes him as describing himself uncannily. It is a discourse of a man who believes himself to be of two natures: one high, the spiritual nature of man; while the other is low, animalistic, a "wolf of the steppes". This man is entangled in an irresolvable struggle, never content with either nature because he cannot see beyond this self-made concept. The pamphlet gives an explanation of the multifaceted and indefinable nature of every man's soul, which Harry is either unable or unwilling to recognize. It also discusses his suicidal intentions, describing him as one of the "suicides"; people who, deep down, knew they would take their own life one day. But to counter that, it hails his potential to be great, to be one of the "Immortals".

The next day Harry meets a former academic friend with whom he had often discussed Oriental mythology, and who invites Harry to his home. While there, Harry is disgusted by the nationalistic mentality of his friend, who inadvertently criticizes a column Harry wrote. In turn, Harry offends the man and his wife by criticizing the wife's picture of Goethe, which Harry feels is too thickly sentimental and insulting to Goethe's true brilliance. This episode confirms to Harry that he is, and will always be, a stranger to his society. [...]" from
Volt, Watt, Ampere, Ohm, ohne mich gibt's keinen Strom!