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Steppenwolf [Mass Market Paperback]

Hermann Hesse
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Left me uninspired Feb. 17 2000
By A Customer
More philosophy than fiction - as a story it trudged along very slowly, and finished with a fizzle. The book kept me interested enough to finish, but just barely. No doubt I missed something, but I certainly won't be re-reading Steppenwolf to figure out what.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Different Hesse Aug. 12 2003
By A Customer
This is one of Hesse's most well-known works that differs stylistically from his other works like Siddartha, Narcissus and Goldmund, etc. Steppenwolf is written in a more complex manner, sometimes requiring the reader to reread passages or read very closely throughout the whole book. The story and the themes are typical of Hesse; human exploration, psychology, self-discovery are all important ideas. A wonderful book, well written. Great for fans of Hesse, not necessarily the best book of Hesse's to read, if you have not read any of his other works.
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By A Customer
I've read reviews where the reviewer has castigated this novel as "the perfect specimen of the Nietzschean overman who renounces the world." Others have said this book is blatantly anti-bourgeoisie as well. Such comments only reveal the misunderstanding of what Hesse was attempting to convey in this novel.
First I should point out that Nietzsche did not renounce the world at all. In some sense Hesse was heavily influenced by Nietzsche and so in order to understand something of this book it might be helpful to have read a little bit of Nietzsche himself. Unlike his predecessor Schopenhauer (another great philosopher), Nietzsche did not condemn the world. What Nietzsche really condemned was the current state of things (rampant nationalism, anti-semitism, Bolshevism, and materialism etc.) and the mentalities that produced them (racism, narrow-mindedness, complacency, and absolute religious convictions) when he scathingly criticized the 'majority', insofar as the majority embraced these doctrines. Hesse, like Nietzsche, is a 'Yes-Saying' man (Yes-saying to the world that is) and that is manifested in this novel. Obviously Hesse believed in progress and had much hope for humanity. Perhaps those who have charged the author with such nihilistic sentiments have not read further than the first half of the book and have only read the despair that Harry later transcends. This book isn't going to root out and remove suffering altogether but enough so that it isn't so overwelming that one gives up on life. As Hesse wrote, "But I would be happy if many of them were to realize that the story of the Steppenwolf pictures a disease and crisis-but not one leading to death and destruction, on the contrary: to healing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars an intellectual's personal hell Sept. 8 2002
Harry Haller is a medium for Hesse to address some of the rather extremely intense issues. This is a story of a middle aged man who over the years becomes disillusioned with life. He cannot relate with the norm (bourgeois) yet continues to live within their system. Buried in his books and writings he confines himself to his own personal hell. Unable to find a way out he decides upon taking the "emergency exit" if life continues to disagree with him. On the decided night he comes across Hermine, a complete opposite of Harry who does not allow her intellect to limit her. She teaches Harry to look at life from different perspectives besides his own among many other life's lessons.
The ending of the book is like an answer key to all the questions that inflict Haller throughout. He makes some wrong choices only to end up with the right lessons in life.
Hesse maintains the level of intensity throughout as he continues to bring forth his opinions on war (keeping with the times it was first written), commentary on suicide ("it must be said that to call suicides only those who actually destroy themselves is false."), his attitude towards the bourgeois, music, poetry, etc.
Hesse stated in his note written in 1961 (many years after this book's first publication in 1927) that he found readers either completely misunderstanding it or partially understanding it. One must go beyond the main character's personal problems and study it in totality to understand what the author really intended to do with this story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It doesn't get any better! Aug. 7 2002
Herman Hesse was always an author I had heard about rather than experienced first hand. After reading Steppenwolf I am a fan. The journey this man goes through is an anyman journey or at least I relate directly. It's thought provoking, philisophical and touching all at the same time. If you like this I'd also recommend Naked Lunch and subUrbia.
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4.0 out of 5 stars HH as Carl Jung's student June 30 2002
It is quite a common (normal, frequent) experience to struggle to find out our own identity. The complex, multiple personalities that exists within an individual triggers a great spiritual battle to unify it all into a understandable personality. HH's beautifully depicts his painful struggle in this book with a touch of fantasy. Very touchy and makes a good reading. But, people with no prior experience with HH or eastern philosophies or C.G. Jung will find it little difficult to follow.
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I moved on to 'Steppenwolf' after having read Herman Hesse's 'Siddhartha'.
In both novels is an interesting recurrance of Indian philosophical strands and Hesse's thematic analysis of the conquest of suffering and fear. Steppenwolf is however a tougher text and the story-line is expanded in greater detail. The first half of the book is slightly slow-moving yet is necessary for the final revelation (or enlightenment - to use an Oriental term) at the end of the novel.
This book seems to have a slightly auto-biographical tone to it making the text vivid and extremely heart-felt. It's worth a read.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Judged by its cover
I have not read the book, but judging by its cover it is a book about a half-man half-wolf. That subject has been a favorite with horror writers through out history.
Published on April 16 2004 by Festir
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated
It is a quick read so if one is interested they should pursue it, but with hesitation. It is not as good as the hype.
Published on March 3 2003 by Dustin Stein
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important books of the 20th century.
This is one of my favorite books by a German writer, it is my first by Hesse, but certainly not be my last. Read more
Published on June 16 2002 by Silence Dogood
5.0 out of 5 stars Peeling an onion (laugh, don't cry)
Hesse is a genius -- go read his stuff! His writing is by no means light reading. Very deep and mysterious. This book, in particular -- magical and supernatural and profound. Read more
Published on June 13 2002 by phoopabriba
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Impact!
I read this book on my friend's recommendations.. it is the first book I read for Hermann Hesse!
At first I found it repetitive and over-detailed, and many times I had to... Read more
Published on June 7 2002 by rannoon
5.0 out of 5 stars A good self help book for some of us
I give it full marks because of the impact it had on me. I have for the span of my life been searching for a clear picture of who I am in contrast to society/other people. Read more
Published on May 24 2002 by thrainn
5.0 out of 5 stars Hesse is a Bodhisattva
The idea of the divided man is Steppenwolf. If one is to understand what Hesse tries to potray through this character, some basic tenets of Buddhism help.. Read more
Published on April 18 2002 by Malli
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