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Beneath the Wheel Paperback – Jul 1 2003
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“A remarkable mixture of affection, gentle humor, compassion, light irony, bitterness, and cold, angry indignation.” ―The Sacramento Bee
“Can be read for sheer pleasure. Hesse's peculiarly supple lyricism, his brittle irony, and his stunning descriptions of nature are marvelously carried over into the English.” ―The Saturday Review
“[A] Black Forest Catcher in the Rye, a work infused with that sense of homesickness that Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., quite rightly said was so prominent in Hesse's novels.” ―The National Observer
About 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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Top Customer Reviews
Immediately, the reader is drawn into the story and we become the young Hans, and see the world through his eyes. We are there with him during the long hours of study and we meet his schoolmates, one young man in particular, a poet, who rebels against the system that is forcing the students to keep pushing themselves from getting crushed "beneath the wheel." Young Hans starts to have episodes of forgetfulness and fainting and eventually has a nervous breakdown and is sent back to his village in disgrace. The inevitable conclusion is tragic.
I can easily see the making of the great writer in Hesse's youthful novel. He's a master of simply stating the contradictions around him without making the connections obvious. And his descriptions of the beauty of nature are wonderful. He captures the essence of the heavy price we pay in doing what is expected of us without question. There's historical significance here too because, as we read, we have the hindsight to know what later happened in Germany.Read more ›
So bright is Hans that he is selected to attend a German monastery to continue his academic studies. So prestigious is this academy that it would be comparable to an American student being accepted to Princeton or Stanford. It is on this journey that we join young Hans; so full of promise as well as a wee bit of arrogance.
In some ways, this book could be described as the anti-CATCHER IN THE RYE. Instead of extolling education as something worthwhile as opposed to merely banal, Hesse has a far less flattering view of the educational system. The crux of the book is found in the following passage:
"A schoolmaster will prefer to have a couple of dumbheads in his class rather than a single genius, and if you regard it objectively, he is of course right. His task is not to produce extravagant intellects but good Latinists, arithmeticians and sober decent folk." (99-100)
Here it becomes evident that Hesse has little regard for a German pedagogic system which places pragmatism above nourishing persons of exceptional mental acumen. Most of the rest of the book revolves around the nucleus of this passage.
The whole tone and style of this book very much reminds me of Thomas Mann. The theme of transition from adolesence to adulthood is present in Mann's works as well.Read more ›
Later in his life, Hesse saw his early novels as hopelessly bourgeois. Some critics have followed him in this, but it's simply wrong. He always wrote from the heart; the difference is that the later novels spring from a heart fully cracked open.
BENEATH THE WHEEL reflects the beginnings of that painful opening up to wider vistas for the author....and, it is hoped, for the reader as well.
I have no idea if Hesse projected himself in this book or not.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This is a story about a kid, Hans Giebernath, who gets pushed into higher academics and testing instead of being allowed to flourish on his own. Read morePublished on Jan. 2 2002 by Marc Schaub
This is a story about the faults of education and how they push gifted kids too hard. In an effort to maximize their intellectual talents they leave out expression of soul and of... Read morePublished on June 11 2001
This is a well-written book, very personal as all of Hesse's works are, but suffers from a rather underdeveloped writing style -- understandable since it was written so early in... Read morePublished on May 31 2000
I couldn't have read this book at a better time. Like a lot of American high-schoolers in the "fast track" to college, I was feeling way overworked. Read morePublished on May 19 2000 by Andrew M. Schirmer
Having been a long time Hermann Hesse fan, I was more than pleasantly surprised by Beaneth the Wheel - the story of early conflict between fitting into and earning respect in a... Read morePublished on Feb. 13 2000 by T. Lansing
A well-told story of a teenager who is a bit different than the rest, and how this and the forces around him shape his tragic destiny. I enjoyed reading it. Read morePublished on Aug. 19 1999
Hesse's thinly veiled autobiographical work presages hos own battle with mental illness. An important volume in the Hesse canon which tells us much about the workings of the... Read morePublished on Jan. 27 1999 by ARoth57@aol.com
In this book plenty of sensibility and, sometimes, hardness Hesse show us the negative consequences of some educative systems, which are efficient for success at expense of... Read morePublished on Oct. 13 1998