27.12.13

Book Review: 'Steppenwolf' by Hermann Hesse

FOR MAD PEOPLE ONLY

The book and the man himself. At least I hope it's the man himself. He might just be a guy who enjoys posing next next to covers. [source]
Hey Readers!

 I feel it's time for a little cheeky book review! I haven't done these in a while...

So yes. Steppenwolf. Steppenwolf is one weird book.  It's like Hermann Hesse has taken a piece of art from the Weimar era and put it in words; which is not a coincidence as it was written during the Weimar period. You can't deny the fact that it's weird: it's about a guy who thinks he's a wolf and ends up in a theatre where he runs people over in cars during the war between machinery and man and the such like, with the odd threesome along the way. That said, it's also one of the sexiest, most intelligent and by far the most openly intellectual books I have ever indulged in.

Hesse weaves in references to other German authors (with the odd medieval German poet thrown in there for good measure) which I'm sure would be very symbolic if I actually had any idea of who they were or what they had written. The most important of the writers talked about was Goethe, so if you don't know who he is, I suggest you take a glance over his wikipedia entry prior to reading. He also whacks twenty pages of character psychoanalysis in the middle. Just because he can.

Throughout the whole book there are essentially five characters, one of which is never named. This character introduces the book, and you begin under the impression that it is Hesse speaking, until you are thrust into the main part of the book, where you can't help but feel that Harry Haller is actually the confessions of Hesse. Notice how they have the same initials.Upon reading the essay bit at the back after finishing Steppenwolf, I discovered that this book was indeed written while Hesse was having a full-on crisis and tended to write autobiographical work. Then you have Hermione, who is rather unlike the Hermione we know, as well as Maria and Pablo. Each young, beautiful and bisexual; the three traits that I associate with Germany (or more specifically Berlin) during this period. All three contrast beautiful with the misanthropic and isolated Haller as they propel him head first in to the life he systematically fails at rejecting.

As a translation, the language can feel and bit clunky and doesn't have the natural rhythm of a book written in the language that it belongs in, but hey. The Germans have a reasonable number of tenses (although I can't forgive them for the number of cases they deem as appropriate) so it's never going to translate easily. Moreover, I can't really comment on the writing style because, as Cecily and I were discussing, I'm not sure whether that was Hesse or the translator.

If you are up for feeling rather cultured or taking on a literary challenge or want to experience more of the Weimar period (I'm talking to you Fleur) then go and read this book. If you can, take a trip to Berlin, it does help set the mood. I was discussing it with my Uncle and he said he never enjoyed Hesse's work more than when he was my age, so by not reading it now, you're just loosing out on more pleasure.  Five Stars.

Gwendolen

P.S. If you're wondering what I mean by "FOR MADE PEOPLE ONLY" your just going to have to read the book. But oh my Lord, wouldn't that be a fantastic name for a blog? I might consider going solo, just so I can call it that...


1 comment:

  1. thanks for sharing
    =)
    New post: http://tupersonalshopperviajero.blogspot.com.es/2013/12/blusa-estilo-pijama.html

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