Well, wow. This book was not what I expected, yet perhaps I should have known something wild was in store for me. I first discovered Hermann Hesse in college, a friend recommended that I read “Siddhartha” and that book changed my life. Hesse’s writing took me to a place that I thought only I knew, or understood. He pulled it off again when I read “The Glass Bead Game” several years ago- a book that I continue to think about daily, and is at the top of my list of favorite books. So, I had high hopes for “Steppenwolf” – and at the same time, wondered why I had always resisted reading it. My hesitation seems to have been well-founded, as I found this book to be rather indulgent and extreme.
There are passages in this book that soar with luminosity and clarity- astute observations on the human condition, the frustrations of intellectualism- and how to cope with mere mortals, which proves to be more challenging than I ever imagined, if what this book portrays is accurate on any level. I understand Hesse’s interest and desire to expose darkness and shadow, even bordering on the occult and magic— and maybe at another time in my life, this would have been a stimulating adventure. But, I thought, quite frankly, that it was over-kill. I was relieved to turn the final page and return to some reading that may prove to be both more productive, and enjoyable….
As with all experiences that I find distasteful, I certainly believe there was a lesson to be learned here- and because the book went so far over the cliff, I know that I will pause before entering this level of madness again anytime soon. In a few days, once the book has settled in and settled down in my nervous system, perhaps some nuggets of wisdom will be revealed– maybe I should have waited until then to post my thoughts, but here I am- and looking forward to moving into some new territory…
And just to clarify- I love love love Hermann Hesse, and his other books are still at the top of my charts, but this one just didn’t strike the same connection for me.
2 comments on “Book Four: Steppenwolf, by Hermann Hesse”
I understand the turmoil of Herman Hesse, meredith! And I understand getting the post “over with” so that you can move on to the next thing!
I think you are right– over time you’ll probably find some nuggets of wisdom from the book, but for now best to leave it be.
Hope you are well and enjoying what is left of the summer!
I guess you’re intuition was on point with this one! I’ve never read Herman Hesse, but I’ll trust to steer towards his other works if given the opportunity/inclination to read them.
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