With its blend of Eastern mysticism and Western culture, Steppenwolf, Hesse' best-known and most autobiographical work, originally published in English in 1929, continues to speak to our souls as a classic of modern literature.
©1927 S. Fischer Verlag A. G., Berlin. Renewal copyright ©1955 Hermann Hesse. English translation copyright B© 1929 Henry Holt and Company. Renewal copyright ©1957 Hermann Hesse. Revised translation copyright © 1963 Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, Inc. Author's note copyright ©1961 Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt Am Main; (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks America
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"Save this Hesse novel for your midlife crisis."
There is this bourgeoisie period in every man's life. This midpoint between birth and death where man is trapped alone. Unable to exist in hot or cold of the absolutes he tries to find his way between the extremes in the comfortable center. Fearing life and death, he just exists ... barely. This is not a novel for the young. Just like it is better to save King Lear for late in one's life, it is better to save Steppenwolf for those crisis years of the midlife.
Hesse's novels seem to flirt between the edge of memoir, scripture, prose poem and Eastern philosophy tract. This isn't a book you want to read in a hot bath with scotch in one hand and a razor blade in the other. You will either spill your drink or spill your blood or lose every printed word, the hot water erasing pages and pickling your fingers, toes and time.
There are parts of me that get super irritated by Hesse and parts of me that absolutely love him. It depends, I guess, on what part of me is dominating at the time, which of my selves is dislocated and which is demanding the most.
Somedays, I wonder if I had my druthers I'd be a shepherd and write poetry on rocks. Unfortunately, I am a bourgeoisie bitch cloaking myself in cashmere and not a mangy wolf from the steppes.
"I was the Steppenwolf"
I believed from the prologue that I was probably the sort of person that Hesse had intended for an audience to this book. When you enter a writer's world... that is to say, the world of a good writer, you are taken away from your own world to experience joys and sorrows of the author's creation. Hesse's world quickly became my own, but Hesse took me a step further. When I was reading the Steppenwolf, I believed that I was the Steppenwolf. Harry Haller was me and I was him.
Haller begins as a sick and sorrowful man, a brilliant man and I became him as I found myself trudging through his life. When Holler, and thus myself, came out the other side of the story, we were healed, healthier and a better people for having made the journey. For me, reading this was less of an accomplishment and more of an apotheosis... a transcendence. I wish I could thank Hesse myself for creating this wonderful little masterpiece.
Back in the 70's when I was in college and the army Herman Hesse had a surge of popularity that was deemed comin of age stories. Back then I read most of his books. I decided to listen to Steppenwolf to see if anything changed, if I had a diferenct perspective. I don't know that I have the answer, Hesse wrote a forward to this book 30 years or so after he wrote it mentioning how the young enjoyed his writing. But he wrote Steppenwolf when he was around 50 and he said that it was as much about finding peace of mind, your placein life than anything. He mentions that each reader gets somthing diffeerent from the story and any author wants his readers to relate to their stories in whatever way workds for them. This is a book for thinkers, I'm one, if you're one you may enjoy this tale.
This is one of the most profound books I've have ever listened to. The reader was alright, but the book itself was fascinating. My favorite part, unlike the last reviewer, was the Steppenwolf treatise. It describes an entire subspecies of mankind, and it is one that I identify with completely. Hooowl!!!
In the beginning of the book the author noted that people didn't take away from the book what he truly intended for them to take away. I think what he really intended them to take from the book, was the old adage that if you see the Buddha kill him. However, that saying may not have been around when Hesse wrote this book. Another way to look at it would be that in order to reach Buddhists or Hindu enlightenment through meditation or whatever, you must kill your own personality and sever your attachment to self. It is possible that given the society that Hesse lived and wrote in he could not come out and directly say this so he cloaked it in Steppenwolf and Sidhartha. Of course, it is also possible my proposal is not at all what he wanted a reader to take from this book and I am completely wrong and self-delusional, but after listening to the book this is my guess and anyone is free to listen and propose a different hypothesis about Hesse's intention. So please feel free.
Once again, this is profound literature. Really great stuff.
"Weller and Hesse? I say YES"
I could listen to Peter Weller narrate the phone book. Here he narrates one of the classics of European literature and it is so good. So so so good.
"Great literature but..."
This once very popular work by the German Nobelist Hesse is deep, complex and fascinating. And, while short, readable and not terribly dense, it is not a page turner. It is a highly philosophical work that emerges from the narrative consciousness of a man in painful search for meaning outside the normal structures of the comfortable middle class. I listen to it when I have an energy that isn't satisfied by thrillers.
"If you like Nietzsche, you'll love Der Steppenwolf"
I would recommend this to intelligent introspective friends who may have read some Nietzsche. Those would get the most out of it. I saw on the wiki page for the book that Jack Kerouac "dismissed" this book in Big Sur. While I've only read one of Kerouac's books, I can say the two aren't remotely on the same level. I think Hesse's work was just beyond him.
Der Steppenwolf of course.
Peter was an interesting choice. I can understand why he was offered the job, he often represents the lone wolf in movies.His pronunciation was decent but don't forget about the speed function on your audible player. I found 1.25x normal a very comfortable listening speed.
A new life is yours to take.
Psychologic, philosophic, and existential
"Very interesting book for its time"
Probably, it seemed a bit disjointed and expect is easier to follow as an audio book than a text.
Some very nice language in parts. Very elegant description of how unsatisfied the SteppenWolf is with day to day consumerism. Never heard anybody express the idea that "this is all largely crap" in such learned and literary terms.
The lesbian scene with his 2 girlfriends. Probably one of the original porno stories of all time but still an oldy but a goody.
Can see why the rock band Steppenwolf took this as their name. Sex and Drugs was all there and they just put it together with Rock and Roll.
"No thrill of discovery"
yes, the book. Not the audio.
When it was discovered that Steppenwolf was meeting a beautiful lady, and who she was.
The mysterious parts could have sounded more mysterious and intriguing.
Not for Americans. It is too heavy for the general public. Maybe on PBS< though.
Steppenwolf is a classic and Hermann Hesse and his writings are very well known. I personally am not a fan of Hesse, not because I dislike anything about his writing but because I do not believe it translates smoothly to english. Steppenwolf has always been my favorite of all Hesse's works and because of this was the one I wanted on audio as well as hard copy. Hesse's quest after individuality and attempts to understand the lone wolf persona that makes up the core of this book is well preserved in it's audio form. Overall this is a good book.
That being said, I must preface the remainder of this review with the fact that I am a huge fan of Peter Weller. I love the documentaries that he narrates for PBS, History Channel, and Discovery. However, audiobooks are not the best use of his talents. I seriously had a hard time staying awake while listening to Steppenwolf even when I started out wide awake. It finally came to the point where I had to listen in pieces just to get through it without drifting off and missing large chunks of the book. Weller's voice becomes hypnotic at times and really makes it difficult to focus on what he is reading. As much as I enjoy Weller's TV work I must decline recommending him as an audiobook reader.
A fantastic, moving book. A timeless tale and the best I've listened to so far. Great narration too. A+
Excellent reading of a powerful book. Highly recommended for all Hesse fans and those new to his work.
"Profound but ultimately not interesting enough"
Several of Hesse's novels rank among my very favourites and at first I thought this would be another. As I went on, the weight of it gradually wore me down. It is more of an essay than a narrative and though I admired it and liked it in principle, after a while it became too dull and I returned it.
Something about German literature in a drawling American accent grates. More importantly, the story feels monotonous because the narration is literally monotonous.
Sympathy then ultimately boredom
This is a profound study of a lonely, unhappy man suffering from a detached intellect and incurable cynicism. The book is intelligent both in the depth of its character study and the manner of the writing. You get the feeling as soon as you read the introduction by Hesse discussing the meaning of the book - a dangerous topic for a critic, let-alone the author, and yet Hesse handles it safely and adroitly.
"Loved every moment of it."
Yes I have a list of friends I will tell about it and to get a copy to.
the descriptions and the nature of Harry
it was easy to submerge instantly. his voice is perfect for this work this book.
no neither I smiled one maybe but it enriched me and I feel more solid in the world and more expanded and safer somehow.
I wish it was written by a woman and spoke of women and used non gender language when talking about people but it is very gender bias and actually it is misogynistic but that is the blindness of the times it was written the limitation of the logos of the age and I forgive it for that I just need to remember to reinstate myself back into the world when I finished it. I will follow up a lot on the mention of the other works Harry was studying too. I will submit this but I hate speaking out Im sure I have spelt very badly and not expressed myself well or even close to what I would like to do, but this work make me want to be courageous . I hope I will find lists of the other books mentioned in Steppenwolf.
I'd love to know who was the lecturer in the first chapter.. I was thinking it could be Rudolf Steiner. But I hope not.
Very interesting for it's time, not quite sure what kind of drugs this guy was on writing this but the fantasy world he create towards the end of the novel was beautifully morbid.
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