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Steppenwolf is a poetical self-portrait of a man who felt himself to be half-human and half-wolf. This Faust-like and magical story is evidence of Hesse's searching philosophy and extraordinary sense of humanity as he tells of the humanization of a middle-aged misanthrope. Yet his novel can also be seen as a plea for rigorous self-examination and an indictment of the intellectual hypocrisy of the period. As Hesse himself remarked, "Of all my books Steppenwolf is the one that was more often and more violently misunderstood than any of the others".

256 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1927

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About the author

Hermann Hesse

1,589 books16.4k followers
Many works, including Siddhartha (1922) and Steppenwolf (1927), of German-born Swiss writer Hermann Hesse concern the struggle of the individual to find wholeness and meaning in life; he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1946.

Other best-known works of this poet, novelist, and painter include The Glass Bead Game , which, also known as Magister Ludi, explore a search of an individual for spirituality outside society.

In his time, Hesse was a popular and influential author in the German-speaking world; worldwide fame only came later. Young Germans desiring a different and more "natural" way of life at the time of great economic and technological progress in the country, received enthusiastically Peter Camenzind , first great novel of Hesse.

Throughout Germany, people named many schools. In 1964, people founded the Calwer Hermann-Hesse-Preis, awarded biennially, alternately to a German-language literary journal or to the translator of work of Hesse to a foreign language. The city of Karlsruhe, Germany, also associates a Hermann Hesse prize.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,518 reviews
Profile Image for Rajat Ubhaykar.
Author 1 book1,699 followers
September 28, 2012
I read this book on a twenty four hour train journey surrounded by the bourgeois. It was a terrifying experience. The book didn't change my life and was not meant to, but it gave me hope and hope is always a good thing.

The influence of Indian spirituality on this book is apparent, but Hesse chooses to dissect it using the prism of Western pessimism. He talks about the multiplicity of the self and the infinite potential associated with it, how we often choose to attach fanciful restrictions to the limitless and that every man can have his place among the Immortals. The influence of unfulfilled desires in the making of the personality and its inherent disorders and the possibility of conquering those to mould a 'new' self are also prominent themes which again run parallel to the Indian concept of rebirth.

The book has layers far too many. Each time I indulge in a flight of introspection, much like Harry Haller, or so I would or wouldn't like to believe, I stumble upon a different and equally vague interpretation of the book.

This book is great literature. It is magnificently vague and by turns sincerely hopeless and insincerely hopeful but eventually redeems itself by offering hope for the hopeless.

Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,118 reviews44.8k followers
April 16, 2020
Hermann Hesse’s words are timeless. Here they represent an entire disaffected generation, a generation who is on the cusp of radical change but still partly exists in the old world. They are out of space and out of time: they are lost within themselves. However, such things can aptly be applied to a number of individuals across the ages. And, for me, this is what made the novel so great.

Through these pages Hesse evokes a character I have seen many times before across literature, but never before with such clarity. Harry Haller is one such man. His intellect is, undoubtedly, worthy of genius, though such a thing is wasted because he has no proper channel for such intellect. He has lost his faith in humanity and has completely withdrawn from the world, so he makes his own world: he has created his own ideal environment within his thoughts. His loneliness is that extreme, he has written an idealised account of his life that never happened. He wants hope, so he creates it himself in the form of a counterpart, a soul mate: Hermione.

She gives him back everything he has lost, his confidence, his hope and his sexual energy. He has passion or life once more. And this is why the novel is so terribly sad. None of this is actually happening; it is the desperate ramblings of a mind trying to heal itself in a world where it can find no sense of belonging or purpose. This imagined woman becomes a lifeline, a beacon in the middle of the dark shores of modernisation. Like Andre Bretton’s Nadja the idealised female becomes a means of escape for the lost modern man. As per the surrealist mode, reality is warped in an attempt to find some higher truth. Her presence is the only thing preventing Harry from killing himself and surrendering to the endless sleep.

For Harry is a man split in two: he is the Steppenwolf.

“There is no reality except the one contained within us. That is why so many people live such an unreal life. They take the images outside of them for reality and never allow the world within to assert itself.”


He believes himself to be half man and half wolf. He has all the sensibilities of a normal man, but overshadowing his character is the romantic longings of a wild creature. In such a modern world his desires and natural drives are unfulfilled; they are repressed and controlled resulting in severe depression and low mood. He cannot be who he was meant to be because the space he exists in does not allow it. The time, the age, does not allow it. So he is trapped, and he so desperately needs a root out. That much so he makes one up for himself out of words.

The switch between reality and imagination is extremely hard to notice within the narrative. It happens very early on, and there are many different layers of storytelling. The story we are hearing is actually a journal penned by Steppenwolf and read by the hotel manager. Although the narrative does raise questions, many really, it is not until the end of the novel that the ripples of doubt are confirmed as delusional confirmations. Perception is everything here, perception of the self and of the world. Although such complex imagining may sound detrimental to mental health, they take on the form of a coping strategy for such a lost individual.

Although Steppenwolf is a middle aged misanthrope, I don’t hesitate to say that this book will resonate within the bosom of many a reader. Particularly the young and the dispossessed will relate to his tale. I know I do in part. It is easy to become lost in life, and it is easy to feel alone in a world that you don’t relate to. But unlike Hesse’s Siddhartha this novel does not attempt to evoke an inner sense of peace and tranquillity as an effort to solve such problems that life throws at us. A resolution would have been unnecessary here because that is not what Hesse is trying to show us.

Instead with Steppenwolf we receive a vision of a man who has wasted his life in self-pity and self-induced isolation. Is this a projection of the author’s feelings? I don’t think we can actually say for sure, but one thing remains absolutely certain: Steppenwolf is a life lesson for those who do not want to receive the same fate.

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Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
June 12, 2023
Kurt Vonnegut, one of my literary heroes, said of Hermann Hesse’s novel Steppenwolf that is was “the most profound book about homesickness ever written”. Vonnegut also went on to describe how Hesse speaks to young readers, how he speaks to the essence of youth and offers hope.

Like many readers, I first encountered Hesse as a young person, for me it was when I was in high school. Hesse’s illustration of isolation and being misunderstood spoke to me as a youth, as I imagine it has for many young people.

Hesse said, “Of all my books Steppenwolf is the one that was more often and more violently misunderstood than any other”. Of course, the book was written about a man as he turns 50, not a youth.

But I think I can understand why this also speaks to young readers. What Hesse describes, and his use of the lone wolf of the steppe as a symbol is brilliant, is about a time when an individual finds himself alone and in transition – as in a mature man who approaches old age, or as a young person leaving behind the securities of childhood for the uncertainties of adult life.

Similar to Hesse’s earlier novel Siddhartha (1922) in Steppenwolf (1927) the protagonist experiences a dynamic journey through self-discovery and spiritual exploration. Also reminiscent of the earlier work, Steppenwolf reveals a cathartic summation after a romantic interlude.

Hesse also demonstrates how man is more than a single entity, more even than the more obvious duality – as suggested by Haller’s belief that he is half man and half wolf – but the combination of tens, hundreds, or even thousands of souls. This confirmation of Eastern thought is ubiquitous in Hesse’s work and shows a kinship to Jung.

Complicated, multi-faceted and sometimes difficult to follow, Hesse presents an important contribution to 20th century literature.

*** 2023 reread -

I reread this because I realized that I am now at the age Hesse wrote this for, a man in his 50s and at a transitional phase in life.

A little sadly, this has not held up as well as I hoped. The reason is mainly a demonstration of how our society has changed due to increases in the complexity and sophistication of our technology.

When Hesse was writing this for the protagonist, Haller, who, from the vantage of middle age, looks back on the savage misanthropy of his earlier days and reflects on who he is now and what’s important to him. The word and concept “bourgeois” was used repeatedly and often in the text and described Haller’s separation from society largely based upon his alienation from bourgeois ideals.

In the 1927 of it’s publication, bourgeois was used to reflect not just middle class, but of the rising importance of the middle class and the sentimentality that went along with this socio-economic group. Haller “came in from the cold” to use an espionage term, as he rejected his earlier wild and wanton disregard for such sentiment and embraced the comforts available to him at this advanced age.

Almost a hundred years later and there are certainly still class distinctions, but those lines have largely blurred into other forms of class identity and so Hesse’s otherwise spot on narrative has lost some of its appeal. It is still very well written and an excellent statement about changes in life and how an individual approaches these changes. Still worth reading but may need some further study for a modern reader to grasp all of what Hesse was saying.

Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,376 reviews12k followers
November 15, 2021

Many literary novels are page-turners, filled with a compelling, straightforward storyline and lots of action; think of Our Mutual Friend and Crime and Punishment, think of Heart of Darkness and No Country for Old Men, or novels like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.

Hermann Hesse's novel Steppenwolf is a work of a completely different cast; a reader might find the story gripping, even riveting, but for much different reasons, for the action takes place not in a major city or obscure outpost but primarily in the mind.

Our first introduction to main character Harry Haller is through the eyes of the thirty-something middle-class nephew of Haller's landlady. The nephew observes how Haller lives a lonely, unsocial life and refers to himself as an old Steppenwolf. The nephew's curiosity prompts him to enter Harry's room, where he discovers stacks of books by authors such as Goethe, Jean Paul, and Dostoevsky; a statue of the Buddha; a photo of Gandhi; empty brandy bottles; and half-smoked cigars. In a word, living quarters bespeaking a chaotic, artistic lifestyle.

The nephew explains how Harry suddenly vanishes from the apartment, leaving a manuscript entitled "HARRY HALLER'S RECORDS" that warns potential readers that what follows is "FOR MADMEN ONLY." It is this record that comprises the remainder of the novel. Harry records how he has two natures in conflict: one as a reflective, refined, cultivated gentleman, and the other a wild wolf of the steppes. As such, he is a Steppenwolf, a despiser and destroyer of the middle class who is at the same time supported and comforted by the middle class. Harry's conflict causes him to become so depressed that he sets his fiftieth birthday as the date for taking his own life.

But life has other plans for Harry the Steppenwolf. We read how Harry encounters a dreamlike inscription over a door in the old section of town. Then the fun begins. Harry's identity and view of reality are challenged by a series of happenings, most notably meeting the beautiful young Hermine, who can be considered in a number of ways: as Harry's double, his doppelgänger; as a reflection of Harry's inner, spiritual self; or as a Jungian archetypal, female part of his psyche - his `anima.'

Hesse wrote Steppenwolf fresh from his own Jungian psychoanalytic experience. Indeed, Hesse plays with the idea of doubles, mirrors, and archetypes throughout this novel. Harry's world is further jazzed up with the entrée of jazz saxophonist/shape-shifter/sensualist Pablo and the beautiful and voluptuous Maria. Jazz, dancing, drugs, and sex all contribute to the death of the formerly old and depressed Harry, transforming him into a revitalized man poised for a full range of experiences at the much-anticipated masked ball.

The masked ball is the final section of the novel. In one of the inner rooms Harry encounters the Magic Theater, which enlarges any previous notions he might have held of both magic and theater. Harry is informed that there is a definite admission price to this theater: "PRICE OF ADMISSION YOUR MIND." Pablo explains to Harry how the theater has as many doors and boxes as one pleases, ten or a hundred or a thousand, and how "behind each door exactly what you seek awaits you."

Wild! And as we enter and move through the Magic Theater, things become progressively wilder. Recall how Timothy Leary encouraged users of LSD to consult this part of Hesse's novel as a manual to negotiate their hallucinogen-induced trips. Hesse would probably have objected to Leary's statement: He wrote in 1961, "... it seems to me that of all of my books Steppenwolf is the one that was more often and more violently misunderstood than any other, and frequently it is actually the affirmative and enthusiastic readers, rather than those who rejected the book, who have reacted to it oddly."

On this point I agree with Hesse--you need not take LSD to enter The Magic Theater; what you really need is openness and imagination, along with the willingness to courageously peer into the subconscious and unconscious areas of your own psyche. If you have a few decades of adult experience, as Hesse evidently hopes, so much the better.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews42 followers
September 7, 2021
(Book 684 from 1001 books) - Der Steppenwolf = Steppenwolf, Herman Hesse

Originally published in Germany in 1927, it was first translated into English in 1929.

Combining autobiographical and psychoanalytic elements, the novel was named after the German name for the steppe wolf.

The story in large part reflects a profound crisis in Hesse's spiritual world during the 1920's while memorably portraying the protagonist's split between his humanity and his wolf-like aggression and homelessness.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «گرگ بیابان»؛ «گرگ بیابان - بانضمام بازخوانی و تفسیر انتقادی»؛ نویسنده: هرمان هسه؛ انتشاراتیها: (بنگاه ترجمه و نشر کتاب - اساطیر، ارغوان، فردوس، علمی فرهنگی، جامی)؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه ژوئن سال 1974میلادی

عنوان: گرگ بیابان؛ هرمان هسه؛ مترجم: کیکاووس جهانداری؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، بنگاه ترجمه و نشر کتاب، چاپ دوم سال 1346؛ نخستین چاپ در نشر اساطیر 1368؛ در 368ص؛ شابک 9645960320؛ چاپ دوم 1376؛ شابک 9645960320؛ چاپ سوم 1383؛ چاپ چهارم 1388؛ چاپ دیگر تهران، علمی فرهنگی، 1394، در سی و هشت و 346ص؛ شابک 9786001215728؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان آلمان - سده 20م

مترجم: مرتضی ملکی؛ تهران، نشر ارغوان، 1362؛ در 293ص؛

عنوان: گرگ بیابان - بانضمام بازخوانی و تفسیر انتقادی؛ مترجم: قاسم کبیری؛ تهران، نشر فردوس، 1368؛ در 383ص؛ چاپ سوم 1376؛ چاپ چهارم 1383؛ شابک 9645509076؛ چاپ پنجم 1387؛ شابک 9643202712؛ چاپ ششم 1389؛ شابک 9789643204471؛ چاپ هشتم سال 1394؛

مترجم: وحید منوچهری واحد؛ تهران، جامی، 1391، در 232ص؛ شابک 9786001760778؛

گرگ بیابان نخستین بار در سال 1927میلادی، در «آلمان» منتشر شد، و نخستین بار در سال 1929میلادی به زبان «انگلیسی» ترجمه شد؛ نویسنده ی نامدار در این اثر، عناصر اتوبیوگرافی، و روانکاوی را، با هم ترکیب کرده، بخشی از رمان، بحران ژرف روحی «هرمان هسه» را، با تصویر کردن شکاف بین انسان بودن ایشان، و رفتار پرخاشگرانه و بی خانمانی خویش، همانند یک گرگ را، در طی دهه 1920میلادی، به خوانشگر مینمایاند، و ...؛

گرگ بیابان خودنگاره ای از مردی است، که همزمان خود را نیمی گرگ و نیمی انسان احساس میکند؛ این داستان جادویی گواهی بر جستجوی فلسفی «هسه» و احساس ماورایی انسانیت است، همانگونه که ایشان از انسانیت یک انسانگریز میانسال میگویند، با اینهمه همچنان میتوان رمان ایشان را یک خودآزمایی هوشمندانه و کیفرخواستی علیه روشنفکری ریاکارانه ی همین دوران، بر دیده نشاند، همانگونه که «هسه» میگویند (از میان همه ی کتابهایم «گرگ بیابان» بیشتر از همه اشتباه فهمیده شده است) این کتاب با این که سالها پیش از امروز انتشار یافته، اما خرد آن همچنان با روح خوانشگر سخن میگوید، بنابراین میتوان آن را یک اثر کلاسیک نیز دانست؛ «هری هالر» چهره ای غم انگیز و تنهاست، یک روشنفکر است، که زندگی برایش لذتی ندارد؛ او در تلاش است تا «گرگ وحشی» و انسان عقلانی را، در درون خود، با یکدیگر آشتی دهد، بدون اینکه تسلیم ارزشهای بورژوازی گردد که مورد نفرت اوست؛ زندگی وی هنگامی که با زنی به نام «هرمین» دیدار میکند ، به گونه ی چشمگیری دیگر میشود

نقل از متن: (یکی بود، یکی نبود، مردی بود به نام «هاری»، ملقب به گرگ بیابان، روی دو پا راه میرفت، لباس میپوشید و انسان بود، اما با این اوصاف در واقع یک گرگ بیابان بود؛ از چیزهایی که مردمان فهمیده میتوانند بیاموزند، چیزها آموخته بود، و آدمی به نسبت باهوش بود؛ آنچه را فقط او یاد نگرفته بود، این بود که: «رضایت خاطر را در وجود خویش و زندگی خویش جستجو نماید») پایان نقل از صفحه 67؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 22/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 15/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews926 followers
March 22, 2021
“What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find.”

Having read several other novels by Hesse (Siddharta, Demian, Narcissus & Goldmund and Knulp), the theme of a protagonist intellectually or culturally isolated from the rest of society is familiar. However, in Steppenwolf, the depths of our protagonist’s (Harry’s) despair separates him from other of Hesse’s protagonists and from humanity. His life isn’t confirmed as valid or authentic. In fact, Harry doesn’t see himself as fully human. Instead, he sees himself as half-human and half-wolf (Steppenwolf). He is ready to quit life, but is convinced that there is more to life than the way he’d been living (or not really living it). In order to make this journey to a more fulfilling life, however, Harry must be willing to sacrifice the way he’d previously seen himself and engage with life in a way he’s never done. Harry’s wild and interesting journey of self-discovery is tied to Hermine. As he regains a passion for life, she shows him that there is always hope. I’ll let others decide whether the ending affirms or contradicts this.
Profile Image for sologdin.
1,717 reviews640 followers
May 28, 2012
Likely the dumbest Important Book that I've read.

Yeah, it's cool that the narrator thinks he's a werewolf, but is really just a recluse pseudo-academic--and then reads a manuscript that describes fake werewolves and outs them as poseurs.

Cool, also, that the preface, by the manuscript's fictional finder and publisher, records the impression that the horrors of the middle ages were non-existent: "A man of the Middle Ages would detest the whole mode of our present day life as something far more than horrible, far more than barbarous. [...] Human life is reduced to real suffering, to hell, only when two ages, two cultures and religions overlap" (22)--which strikes me as the rightwing way of describing the basic marxist principle that all that is solid melts into air.

Cool, further, that the book is written in the late 1920s and exposes all of the nasty jingoist, racist, reactionary bullshit that was the bizarre engine of history in the '30s and '40s--but written while Herr Beer Hall Putsch was banned from public speaking. It is therefore an oddly prescient volume when it describes respectable opinion in Germany as anti-semitic & anti-communist, as unwilling to blame itself for the world war, as loathing persons who express disapproval of the Kaiser and war-mongering, and so on (78-80). It manifestly names "the next holocaust" (117) as the fruits of same, joining R. Palme Dutt in making a horrible, horribly accurate prediction regarding German fascism.

Also presents an interesting attempt to read Goethe's Faust using the good doctor as a model for the Steppenwolf itself (60-63).

Nice moment of insult to the reader when the courtesan asks the narrator to explain what he had been reading, which was the Treatise on the Steppenwolf aforesaid: "Oh, Steppenwolf is magnificent! And are you the Steppenwolf? Is that meant for you?" (113) casting the reader of this volume into the role of the narrator fairly expressly.

Otherwise, though, I have the same reaction here as to Byron's Manfred, who also teeters at the edge of the precipice--my response: do us all a fucking favor and jump off the cliff on page 1; that way, we needn't read an entire volume of self-obsessed amphigory about suicide.

Doesn't help that the middle third of the volume is dominated by a bizarre love story involving several flappers/courtesans who pull the suicidal narrator away from the cliff by means of the terpsichorean arts (no shit!) as well as some hard fucking. The final third is dominated by drug-addled phantasmagoria, with silly appearances by Mozart and Goethe (though the science-fictiony war of man versus machines section is pregnant (180-90)).

Too much overt nietzschean influence. Too much use of the term bourgeois to refer to aesthetic matters, rather than economics. I can definitely see why all of the biggest English department douchebag undergraduates when I was at university wanted to write their BA thesis on this novel, nevermind that it's written in Deutsch, conceiving themselves as the steppenwolf rising above the herd, a true intellectual amid bourgeois banality, a proper aesthete among the declining arts of a spenglerian society, someone who really understands how shit is. It's a hipster manifesto, FFS.

Recommended for fake werewolves, bourgeois poseurs, and improbably named courtesans.

Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
May 24, 2020
for madmen only

In league with Pessoa’s Book of Disquiet and Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov, Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf is about a suicidal guy who never actually commits suicide, a tortured soul who struggles with the dualism of his nature, from the human to the wolf, from the classical to the romantic, to the spiritual to the sinful, from the life of the mind to the life of the body. I read this three times when I was 18-20, trying to understand it, trying to find elements that would help shape my personality, my image as budding/wannabe Artiste, in all my adolescent angst. “You were such a happy baby; what happened?” my mother said to me once during this brooding period, when I was reading everything from Dostoevsky to Rimbaud to Malcolm Lowry’s Under The Volcano and Camus and Sartre, and yes, every Hesse book I could get my hands on.

Steppenwolf was written by Hesse at middle age, looking back on his struggle between the coolly distant Germanic aesthetic and the more sensual Buddhism. In my late teens all the Christians I knew including me were reading Zen Buddhism, and Hesse helped us bridge the strict Calvinism we wanted to be free from and the East we found more attractive, less restrictive.

Harry Haller, writer and reader of many books, an intellectual, is contemplating suicide on his 50th birthday. Melancholy, dumped by his wife, he sees himself as a “wolf of the steppes,” half human, half wolf. He hates modern society. He’d rather read Goethe and listen to Mozart than go to a party and listen to modern jazz or make small talk. His nephew sees him as "a genius of suffering," which seems about right. He’s born to be wild, separate from society:

Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild”:


A peddler gives Steppenwolf a pamphlet entitled, "Treatise on the Steppenwolf." He meets a woman, Hermione, in a bar; she mocks him for his self-obsession, and introduces the aging intellectual—through other women—to the life of the body, to dancing, to cocaine, to wine, to sex. The sensual. Meaning: women, basically. Men: Rational, the life of the mind. Women: Sensual, physical. There’s almost no dialogue in this book, but for certain, women mostly play a central role; they don’t talk much, the me do most of the talking, but they are a central shaping force.

Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride”:


Steppenwolf visits a Magic Theater, which in the sixties might have been seen as a place for psychedelic experimentation because it is there that Harry experiences dreams and nightmares. Emerging out of this with Rosa, Harry ultimately finds he needs to lighten up! He needs to laugh, and enjoy life, and society. So that’s the heart of the book, Step embracing Mozart’s The Magic Flute and love of life, rejecting the suicidal isolation of Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther. Plato, Spinoza, and Nietzsche get referenced along the way, too. I guess it can be seen as a novelistic reflection on the divided self.

There’s not much of an actual story here. It’s an internal, philosophical/spiritual novel, which feels more like allegory (and perhaps autobiography), to tell you how to stop brooding and embrace life. I can see in reading this why a man—in particular a man, because it was written by a man with men as his primary audience, I think—in his late teens or middle-age might embrace this. I liked it less than I did when I was in my teens, but it surely has a kind of intense appeal. Oh, and my mom came to see I also got out of that brooding phase and lightened up, too.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,599 reviews8,731 followers
February 26, 2017
“There are always a few such people who demand the utmost of life and yet cannot come to terms with its stupidity and crudeness.”
― Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf


There is this bourgeoisie period in every man's life. A midpoint between birth and death where man is trapped alone. Unable to exist in the 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(r) 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.
Profile Image for فايز غازي Fayez Ghazi .
Author 2 books3,894 followers
July 9, 2023
- "ذئب البراري"، عنوان قد يوحي للقارئ بمغامرات وأحداث شتّى سيقبل عليها، لكن لا فهذه الرواية ل��بة ذهنية بإمتياز بدايتها ونهايتها في عقل شخص واحد تتقارع فيه روحان (سأعود لذلك لاحقاً)، واحدة آنسة لطيفة واخرى همجية ذئبية، يبقى المقياس هو نسبة نجاح الكاتب في تسطير افكاره على الورق!

- بمكن تقسيم القصة الى ثلاثة اجزاء، القسم الأول يقدّم هاري هاللر بعيون ابن اخ صاحبة البناية التي استأجر غرفتين فيها، يقوم هذا القسم برسم الإطار الخارجي لهاري: الوصف الجسدي، طريقة حياته، وحدته، فوضوية غرفة معيشته، كتبه، قناني المشروبات المرمية في الزوايا، الصورة المعلقة.. مما يعطيه (ويعطي القارئ) انطباعاً ان الموصوف (هاري) قد يكون فناناً او مفكراً او مثقفاً! ثم يقوم بإطلاعنا على السجل الذي تركه هاري قبل اختفائه وهذا السجل يشكل القسم الثاني من الرواية حيث يطلعنا هاري بنفسه عن نفسه، فهو يعتقد ان بداخله شخصيتين تتصارعان على الدوام (الإنسان-الذئب) مما جعله كئيباً، محبطاً ومنعزلاً وهذا ما جعله يق��ر ان يكون عيد ميلاده الخمسين هو اليوم الأخير في حياته (الإنتحار). لكن الأقدار تشاء عكس ما يشاء هاري، وتبدأ التأثيرات السحرية في الرواية برؤية نقش على حائطٍ قديم يكون السبب لتعرفه بـ"هيرمينيا" وهنا يبدأ التحول في شخصيته واعادة النظر بالعديد من المفاهيم التي بنى عليها حياته، والتفكير بالفرص الضائعة والبهجة المفقودة، والأفكار الخشبية (بمعظمها) وكيف انه كان يرى جانباً واحداً من الحياة وينسى الآخر، "هيرمينيا" تعرفه الى "ماريا" وهي مومس تعرف كيف تلاعب هاري وتسحبه مما هو فيه وتحيل كآبته فرحاً وحزنه فرحاً!
القسم الثالث هو المسرح السحري وهو لا يشكل اكثر من 10 بالمئة من الرواية لكنه كثيف جداً وسريع الأحداث كأنه يجسّد التضاد او التغيّر الذي اصاب شخصية "هاري" منذ بداية الرواية حتى نهايتها، وفي هذا القسم الأخير المكوّن من مزيج من اليوغا والأفكار الشرقية والكحول والحشيش والمخدرات وعلم النفس يأخذنا الكاتب الى ابعاد جديدة في نفسية "هاري" والى مفاهيم وافكار جديدة تتميّز بالخفة والسخرية من واقع الحال.

- ما الذي فهمته من الرواية؟ التحوّل! فهاري مثل كل انسان يمرّ في مراحل تحوّل داخلية، فهو يودّع مرحلة الشباب ويلامس مرحلة الشيخوخة وهو بذلك منعزلٌ وكئيب وضعيف، مما يخلق من ذاته شخصية "هيرمينيا" التي وجدتها خيالية وغير حقيقية، فهي -اي هيرمينيا- تشكل التوق المفقود والوجد المطلوب لخروج هاري مما هو فيه فتراها توجهه الى ملذات الحياة ومتعها، الى الرقص وموسيقى الجاز واحضان الشابات النضرة، بعيداً عن موسيقى موزارت وفاغنر الكلاسيكية وبعيداُ عن غوتة ومآسيه وبعيداً عن الشخصية الثانية المفترضة الا وهي الذئب، وما موتها في نهاية الرواية الا دليل على فقدان دورها بالنسبة لهاري وعودتها لتشكل جزءاً طبيعياً من ذاته ومن نفسه، بعد ان استعاد نشاطه وحبه للحياة . وما ابرز من ذلك سوى هذا التضاد بين جملتين ( ص27"على الإنسان ان يفتخر بمعاناته، ان كل معاناة هي تذكير لنا بمنزلتنا الرفيعة.") (ص270:ذات يوم سيتحسن ادائي في اللعبة، ذات يوم سوف اتعلم الضحك) وهذه كانت في النهاية كدليل على هذه النقلة النوعية وتخطي مرحلة اليأس التي كان يعيشها!

- ما السلبيات؟ عدة سلبيات، اولّها النرجسية في استعمال الأسماء "هيرمن" "هيرمينيا" ذات اسم الكاتب! طبيعة فلسفة الفكرة القائمة، فبينما يحاول الكاتب التفرقة بين روح انسانية خيّرة ورح ذئبية شيطانية، فأنا ارى العكس تماماً فالخير الموجود في الذئب الذي لا يقتل الا ليأكل هو افضل بألف مرة من الإنسان الذي يقتل من اجل المتعة وسأستعير مقولة كارل ماركس في وصف فلسفة هيغل (بتصرف):ان انسان "هيسه" يقف على رأسه! أضف الى ذلك القسم الأخير الذي يمكن تفسيره بشكل حرفي (وقد فسّر من قبل) مما يؤدي الى حفلات جماعية من السكر والمخدرات خصوصاً اذا تقمّص القارئ شخصية هاري هاللر او احس انه يمّر بما قد مرّ به!

ابرز الإقتباسات:
ص20 "انظر اي قرود نحن! انظر، هذا هو الإنسان!"

ص27 "على الإنسان ان يفتخر بمعاناته، ان كل معاناة هي تذكير لنا بمنزلتنا الرفيعة."

ص51 "إن العزلة استقلال. ولطالما كانت منيتي وقد بلغتها مع مرور السنين. لقد كانت باردة. أوه، ما أشد برودتها! لكنها ايضاً ساكنة، ساكنة بشكل رائع ومترامية الأرجاء مثل سكون الفضاء البارد الذي تدور فيه النجوم في أفلاكها"

ص61 "ان كامل الحياة الإنسانية ربما ليست اكثر من نكتة سخيفة، إجهاض مشؤوم، عنيف، للأم الأولى، وكارثة طبيعية مغمّة وهمجية"

ص72 "قلائل هم الذين يتحررون ناشدين مكافأتهم في اللامشروط، ويسقطون بوقار. انهم يضعون تاج الشوك على رؤوسهم وعددهم قليل"

ص80 "إن الإنسان ليس شكلاً ثابتاً ودائماً... إنه اقرب الى كونه تجربة ومرحلة انتقالية، وليس اكثر من جسر ضيق وخطر يمتد ما بين الفطرة والروح"

ص186 "هناك الكثير من القديسين كانوا خطاة. حتى الخطيئة قد تكون سبيلاً الى القداسة."
Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,321 followers
July 31, 2019
Rereading is tricky business!

And if the author's name is Hermann Hesse, rereading is a hit or miss experience, all depending on whether you happen to be in that time-space-continuum where Hesse makes sense or not. I devoured his works in my twenties, only to drop them like hot potatoes in my thirties, anachronistically blaming Hesse for being out of touch with the modern perception of the world as I knew it right then. So, now in my early forties, I seem to have swung back on that eternally moving pendulum of my literary taste, and I again devoured the Steppenwolf with wo(o)lfish appetite, greedy for each page.

And unsurprisingly, what struck me as of no interest a decade ago now seems to be a reality to suffer through again. When Harry Haller finds himself quoting Goethe's Faust and his "two souls", only to be told off by his modern female Mephisto Hermine that there are thousands of layers to each personality, and that Faust made an (excusable) oversimplification, I find myself nodding and smiling.

Or at least one of the many souls in my body finds comfort in that dilemma, while some other souls inside me cringe at the stupidity of being human in general. The dystopian dream landscapes of Pablo's theatre make a lot more sense to me now as well, as I see parallel lines in our confused lives - part virtual, part real - that we dedicate our time to nowadays, following links on the internet not unlike the prompts that lead Heller to different parts of the theatre, finally leading to a mock killing and a mock execution, that could of course also be real. Who knows? IRL or VR?

Then there is the political misery of 1927, with people partying away in jazz clubs and dance halls while the clownish machos in power prepare another war by appealing to the one-dimensional patriotism that seems to be a placebo for people who are afraid of the wolfish/intellectual soul duality/multiplicity and are looking for clarity in the labyrinth called human experience. What do you say to the novel written in 1927? Good luck? You might have been too pessimistic? Hardly. We all know what happened next, and that is where the relatability itself of Steppenwolf gets scary.

Very scary indeed!
Profile Image for Agir(آگِر).
437 reviews525 followers
July 3, 2016
آنچه برای شخص من جنبه لذت اشراق و تعالی دارد چیزی است که مردم دنیا حداکثر آنرا در عالم ادبیات می جویند و دوست دارند، ولی درصحنه زندگی آنرا چیزی دیوانه وار تلقی می کنند


و در واقع اگر حق با دنیا باشد، اگر حق با این موسیقی کافه ای، با این کِیف های دسته جمعی، با این مردم آمریکائی مآب کم ادعای قانع زود خرسند باشد، پس من دیوانه هستم، پس من واقعا همان گرگ بیابانی هستم که به خود لقب داده ام، حیوانی هستم که در دنیایی غریبه و نامفهوم راه گم کرده ام، حیوانی که به خانه و کاشانه، هوای مورد احتیاج و غذای خود دیگر دسترسی ندارد

:در مورد کتاب

رمان به افتخار گرگ خاکستری تنها و خسته استپ نامگذاری شده است

می گویند گرگ بیابان هم مردی مومن است و هم بیمار
و این هاری هالر همان هرمان هسه خودمان است که زمانی قصد داشت به زندگی اش پایان بدهد
باید بگویم هرمان هسه واقعا مردی با ایمان بوده اما بنظرم نه مومن به دینی خاص، بلکه به ابدیت و ارزش های اصیل بمانند صلح و انسان دوستی و همچنین ارادت خاصی به بودا داشته است
اما تمدن امروز چنین مرد نابغه ای را به انزوا و بیماری و تصمیم به خودکشی کشانده بود. در این تمدن همه چیز جنبه ی ابتذال پیدا کرده است

هرمان هسه که تافته ای جدا بافته بود در گذشته هم بر علیه افکار عمومی شوریده بود.وی که تحت تاثیر افکار ملی گرائی افراطی و انتقام خواهی آلمانی ها قرار نگرذفته بود، به مخالفت با آن پرداخت. بارها از فجایع جنگ و جنگ طلبی نوشت اما روزنامه ها بر ضد او و افکارش می نوشتند و او به این نتیجه رسید که هیچ چیزی نمی تواند آلمان ها را از اندیشه انتقام بازدارد. و چنین هم شد، آلمان با رهبری هیتلر فجایع جنگ جهانی دوم را بوجود آورد

:هرمان هسه و بورژوازی

وی بورژوا را می کوبد چون یک حکومت می تواند این افراد ضعیف الاراده را به هر سوئی بکشاند
بورژوا این است :امروز کسی را به تهمت الحاد و رندی می سوزاند ، دیگری را به گناه جنایت به دار می آویزد، اما پس فردا برای این ها بنای یادگار برپا می کند
صحنه ای از کتاب در مورد بورژوا خیلی جالب است
هاری از دیدن تصویر گوته در خانه یک بورژوا سخت خشمگین می شود
چرا که تصویر گوته اصلا شبیه شخصیت گوته واقعی نیست
و این بدان علت است که: در بورژوازی عکس قاعده و قانون مردم بزرگ و برگزیده صادق است، یعنی آنکه هرکس مخالف من نیست لاجرم با من موافق است
علت ظاهری عصبانیت هاری از این تصویر آنست که این مردمان گوته را از خود می دانند و تصویری بورژوائی از وی ساخته اند

ولی علت باطنی این خشم را می توان در جمله ای از کتاب " دمیان" اش پیدا کرد
وقتی از کسی متنفریم در واقع از چیزی که درون ماست تنفر پیدا می کنیم
او در این تصویر، خود را می بیند که در طول زندگی اش، بورژوا همچین تصویری از او هم ساخته بود و وی هم هیچگاه مخالفتی نکرده بود
و بارها از اینکه در جوانی آثارش مورد تایید آنها قرار گرفته است حس لذت به او دست داده بود

:گرگ بیابان کتابی شفا دهنده

سراسر زندگی ضرر است و ما باید تن به قضا بدهیم و اگر خر نباشیم بکار جهان بخندیم
این یک کتاب درمانگر و شفا دهنده است برای کسانی که خود را گرگ بیابان می دانند. برای آشتی با این جهان، که چه بد باشد یا فاسد و مبتذل

:در این بخش خطر لو رفتن داستان وجود دارد

:هرمینه و زوربا

شاید اگر قبلا زوربای یونانی را نخوانده بودم خیلی بیشتر از این از کتاب لذت می بردم
چون خیلی قبل از اینکه هرمینه بخواهد به من رقص آموزش بدهد
:به زوربا گفته بودم
Teach me to dance... will you?
:و او هیجان زده گفت
Did you say...dance
و رقص زوربایی را آموختم

:گرگ یا انسان

باغی را در نظر خود مجسم کنید با هزاران درخت مختلف، هزاران گل گوناگون، صدها نوع میوه و صدها جور گیاه. حال اگر باغبان این باغ، برای تشخیص بین نباتات هیچ مقیاس دیگر جز "خوردنی" و "علف هرز" نداشته باشد با نه دهم محصولات باغ خود نمی داند چه باید کرد، او سحر آساترین و دل انگیز ترین گل ها را از ریشه خواهد کند، قیمتی ترین درختان را خواهد برید و یا نسبت به آنها عداوت خواهد ورزید و آنها را به دیده ی بغض خواهد نگریست

گرگ بیابان نیز با هزاران گل روح خود همین کار را می کند. آنچه را که از مقوله "انسان" یا "گرگ" نباشد اصلا نمی بیند. وای که جیزها را به حساب "انسانی" نمی گذارد! هرچه را بزدلانه، بوزینه وار، ابلهانه و حقیر است اگر عاری از جنبه گرگی باشد به حساب "انسانی" می گذارد، درست بدان نحو که هرچه نیرومند و اصیل است فقط بدان دلیل که او نمی تواند آنها را تحت سلطه خود بکشد به پای گرگ می نویسد

:وطن در کتاب های هسه

: هاری و هرمینه


فریاد زدم:آه، کاشکی کار بدین سادگی بود! من به اندازه کافی در فکر زندگی
.بوده ام،اما چه فایده. دار زدن خود شاید کار مشکلی باشد، نمی دانم
!اما زندگی کردن خیلی خیلی مشکل تر است

هرمینه: خوب حالا خودت می بینی که چقدر بچگانه است. از اول کار گذشتیم، تو عینک را پاک کردی، غذا خوردی و مشروب ... و آنوقت با من یک بار "شیمی"(نوعی رقص که در آن شانه ها را تکان می دهند) خواهی رقصید

با عصبانیت فریاد زدم در تمام زندگی اصلا رقص یاد نگرفته ام. حالا دیدید همه چیز به آن آسانی هم نیست که فکر می کردید

فریاد زد: یواش! پس رقص بلد نیستی؟ اصلا بلد نیستی ؟ حتی "وان استپ"(از رقص های متداول مجالس شب نشینی)؟ آنوقت ادعا داری که خیلی برای زندگی زحمت کشیده ای! پس همه اش را دروغ می گفتی، پسرجان این جور دروغ ها با سن و سال برازنده تو نیست. خوب وقتی نمی توانی برقصی چطور می توانی بگوئی خیلی برای زندگی زحمت کشیده ای؟
خواندن و نوشتن را یاد گرفته ای، خوب، شاید هم زبان لاتینی و فرانسوی و این قبیل چیزها را بدانی؟ شرط می بندم که تو ده دوازده سال در مدسه مانده ای و هرچه توانسته ای درس خوانده ای. شاید هم عنوان دکتری گرفته باشی و شاید چینی و اسپانیایی هم بلد باشی. اینطور نیست؟ خوب. اما از دادن چند غاز پول و صرف مقداری وقت برای چند درس رقص خودداری کرده ای! باشد! این همه سالهای دور و دراز را چه کار می کردی؟

اقرار کرد�� که: آخ، خودم هم دیگر درست نمی دانم، مطالعه کردم، آهنگ ساختم، کتاب خواندم، کتاب نوشتم، سفر کردم

واقعا عقائد جالبی نسبت به زندگی داری! همیشه کارهای پیچیده و-
مشکل تر را انجام داده ای، اما چیزهای ساده را
..اصلا یاد نگرفته ای؟ وقت نداشتی؟

من خودم میدانم که دیوانه ام-

تو هیچ دیوانه نیستی، آقای پروفسور، تو از نظر من خیلی کم دیوانه ای! تو درست مثل پروفسورها بنحو ابلهانه ای عاقلی

:در مورد میوه ممنوعه


گرگ بیابان کتابی ادبی- روانکاوانه است. بعضی قسمت های داستان برام به صورت سوال باقی ماند و حدس می زنم جوابم را در کتابهای "کارل گوستاو یونگ" پیدا خواهم کرد. خواندن بعضی نظریات فروید خیلی در درک قسمت های مربوط به روانکاوی شخصیت بهم کمک کرد
در مورد این کتاب نظرات و نقدهای مختلفی وجود دارد.برداشت های خیلی متفاوتی شده است و حتی گفته شده که کلا این کتاب قابل فهمیدن نیست

خود هرمان هسه درمورد کتابش گفته: آثارابی ممکن است به انحاء گوناگون موجب تفاهم یا سوتفاهم شوند. و تصور می کنم "گرگ بیابان" بیشتر و شدیدتر از سایر آثارم موجب سوتفاهم شده باشد
داستان گرگ بیابان بیماری و بحران را تصویر می کند اما این بیماری از آنگونه نیست که به مرگ و نابودی منجر شود بلکه برعکس هدف آن علاج است، رهایی است

:و در کتاب هم این چنین می گوید
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
468 reviews3,253 followers
May 6, 2023
This book can be great or bad depending on your taste buds, silly or a stupendous trip in enlightenment , about that man of self- pity , Harry Haller maybe too educated for his own good . His hatred of himself would become tiresome to all those unlucky to know him. He dreams as Steppenwolf a creature of the steppes in Russia roaming alone never joining other wolves but living always as though the last animal with four legs on earth. As a human the feelings are the same , seeing but not living , preferring to die but a coward to do anything about this. Harry is 50 , a German between the wars when everyone enjoys the exciting 1920 's, Herr Haller only despises the world around... planning suicide , a rather pompous, conceited individual who enters taverns, cinemas, concerts watching people hating them, however envious. Meeting women who strangely like the not attractive, depressive Harry , especially Hermine a pretty , young girl of rather dubious, (but very perceptive, a talented woman) with flaws in
shall we say her background in a bar ( tavern).She even teaches the shy man to dance and introduces her amusing friend , affable Maria. Pablo a seemingly shallow yet charming man that plays the saxophone will surprise later on. Dinners in restaurants, drinking , drugs and parties he begins to act like others from the now remote but interesting age of the flapper
era, thinking of life not death yet still unsure of the future, will this last. A very influential novel which became quite popular in the counter culture of the 1960's. Nevertheless in the Magic Theater a place where nightmares and dreams are shown to the uneasy Harry by Pablo his mysterious friend where appears Mozart the laughing musician that tells Mr.Haller not to be such a wet blanket , is the best part of the entire fantasy...A odd novel for any .... some will discover what?
Profile Image for Jenn(ifer).
159 reviews974 followers
November 26, 2012
Um. What the? What?

What the hell did I just read?

First third, BRILLIANT -- one of the most interesting bits of philosophical fiction I've ever read. Seriously. I was completely enthralled. Second third -- hard to believe that two people would ever actually have conversations such as these, but still engaging. Third third -- what the F*CK? No, really, what the f*ck? It was some sort of crazy funhouse reality blurring, whacked out Kubrick film. I don't know if I liked it or I hated it. My brain is still in knots.

So -- uh -- while I try to disentangle my axons -- I'll leave you with a song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEEzbF...


The more I allow this to sink in, the more I like it. I think I need to consider seriously revising my review. At any rate, I'm giving it an extra star.
Profile Image for Fernando.
684 reviews1,128 followers
January 25, 2023
"¡Ah, es difícil encontrar esa huella de Dios en medio de esta vida que llevamos, en medio de este siglo tan contentadizo, tan burgués, tan falto de espiritualidad, a la vista de estas arquitecturas, de estos negocios, de esta política, de estos hombres!
Cómo no había de ser yo un lobo estepario y un pobre anacoreta en medio de un mundo, ninguno de cuyos fines comparto, ninguno de cuyos placeres me llama la atención?"

Qué bien que escribe Hermann Hesse...
Hay algo en los escritores alemanes que supera a muchos de otros países. Son dueños de una narrativa bella, contundente... casi perfecta.
Me sucede lo mismo cuando leo al padre de la literatura alemana, Goethe, o al enorme y maravilloso Thomas Mann, (cuyo estilo me recuerda mucho a Hesse), a Schiller o E.T.A. Hoffmann. Dueños de una prosa incomparable, saben cómo atraer al lector para no dejarlo escapar.
Algo similar sucede con los escritores franceses que los distingue del resto, pero debo decir que Alemania prevalece sobre el resto. Hasta Franz Kafka siendo checo decidió escribir en alemán y Jorge Luis Borges decidió aprender alemán como autodidacta para leer a Goethe en su idioma original.
En este libro, Herman Hesse nos sumerge en el mundo especial de su lobo estepario, Harry Haller que no casualmente posee las mismas iniciales, ya que la novela está impregnada de sus propias experiencias, es notablemente biográfica y refleja sus problemas y su lucha contra la depresión y el suicidio.
El libro no está dividido por capítulos sino que cuenta con partes bien diferenciadas.
Una introducción, en la que un desconocido narrador nos dan las nociones básicas introductorias acerca de este personaje tan peculiar llamado Harry Haller, quien se autodenomina un "lobo estepario", a quien conoció ya mayor viviendo en la pensión de su tía.
Luego las anotaciones de Harry Haller conocidas como "Sólo para locos" en las que encontramos unas primeras impresiones y experiencias vividas y en la que nos adentraremos dentro de su propia pqsiquis, conoceremos cómo piensa este solitario cinquentón que decidió abrazar su vida al peregrinaje urbano y la soledad.
Después, nos encontramos con un descriptivo apartado llamado el "Tractat del lobo estepario (no para cualquiera)" en el que el autor ahonda nuevamente dentro de la personalidad de Haller, haciendo hincapié tanto en su visión de la burguesía no como crítica sino como diferenciación del estilo de vida del personajes y de otras cuestiones ligadas especialmente al suicidio y a la dualidad que convive dentro de Haller, dualidad en la que muchos encontrarán rastros de "bipolaridad" con una carga de "crisis existencial".
Esa dualidad está orientada a la cuestión fáustica planteada por Goethe en su novela "Fausto" y que en Harry Haller tiene además la particularidad de romperse como un espejo en muchos fragmentos más que lo llevan a replantearse su vida en todas sus etapas pasadas, la presente e incluso el futuro.
La disertación del autor sobre Haller va mucho más allá. Es mucho más profunda y encara puntualmente en la introspección psicológica del personaje preparando al lector a lo que va a venir: la narración propiamente dicha de las vivencias de Haller y su enfrentamiento a los escollos de la vida y las posibles consecuencia que le traigan sus acciones.
El vacío existencial que sufre a principios de la novela y el tormento del suicidio le atraen casi de la misma forma que a otro personaje conflictuado: el de Kirilov en la novela "Los demonios" de Fiódor Dostoievski, con la diferencia de que Haller no sucumbe sino que lucha por salir del pozo y lo logra desde el momento en el que conoce a otros personajes clave de la novela como lo serán Hermine, María y Pablo.
Las ácidas conclusiones de hombre del subsuelo que lo aquejan comienzan a transformarse en la esperanza de que se puede vivir sin tanto complejo y de esta manera, Haller comienza a experimentar ciertos placeres solamente reservados a esa burguesía que tanto critica.
Tanto deambular hace que se suceda el (no tan) fortuito encuentro con Hermine (o Armanda según la traducción que uno lea) en el bar "El águila negra" y a partir de este evento todo cambiará incluso para bien.
Hermine le dará la posibilidad de acercarse a otras experiencias placenteras, especialmente la del baile, algo impensado tanto para Harry como para nosotros los lectores, por lo que veníamos leyendo sobre él.
Armanda y el baile (cuando no, una mujer para "despertarnos" y ponernos en la buena senda) le aportarán luz a su vida y a partir de que conoce a otra hermosa mujer llamada María ahondará en los placeres de la sensualidad y el sexo, saliendo de ese letargo que lo aprisionaba.
Adentrándonos en el último tercio de la novela, Harry concurrirá a un baile de máscaras y de buenas a primeras, gracias a su amigo, el saxofonista Pablo, durante ese evento en el que el autor detalla con lo mejor de la carnavalización rabelesiana, se introducirá en una especie de noche de Walpurgis en la que Hesse homenajea nuevamente al "Fausto" de Goethe tal como lo hiciera Mijaíl Bulgákov en ese capítulo de "El maestro y Margarita" en el que Voland invita a Margarita disfrutar su propia noche de gala.
Y de ahí y casualmente como por arte de magia, Pablo le dará la posibilidad de conocer a su "Teatro mágico -sólo para locos-" en donde la entrada "solo cuesta la razón" y no es para cualquiera.
Aquí ingresaremos, a la parte más surrealista de la novela, una especie de sucursal del país de las maravillas de Alicia, ya que en este teatro en forma de herradura, Harry se encontrará con muchas puertas en un extremo y espejos en el otro y cada una de ellas lo llevará a una experiencia que metafóricamente hablando, lo colocarán en distintas etapas de su vida para experimentarlas nuevamente como si fuera un auténtico sueño delirante y kafkiano, absurdo y onírico. Así es: un auténtico ensamble kafkiano.
Esta es la parte más entretenida y alucinada del libro. Ya hace mucho que Harry no es ese lobo huraño y recalcitrante sino un hombre entregado a las pasiones, delirios y desenfrenos del espíritu.
El final es completamente distinto a lo que leímos al principio, pero tiene mucho que ver tanto con Harry Haller como con Herman Hesse.
Había leído este libro hace siete años y debo reconocer que disfruté muchísimo de esta novela "no tan sólo para locos" que me permitió reafirmar la grandeza de este gran escritor que se llamó Hermann Hesse.
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
580 reviews4,062 followers
January 18, 2020
****Primera lectura del año del club Pickwick: www.instagram.com/clubpickwick/)****
Esta es una lectura que necesito dejar reposar.
El lobo estepario es una novela cargada hasta tal punto de simbolismos, metáforas y reflexiones existencialistas que creo que pide un tiempo para ser digerida.
Dicho esto, me ha gustado, la lectura para mi ha sido un poco de montaña rusa, con una parte inicial que me encantó, una central que me resultó densa y un desenlace completamente de locura (nunca mejor dicho).
Lo más interesante de todo para mi es ese fuerte componente antibelicista y cómo Hesse transmite tan bien su incapacidad para integrarse en la sociedad. No se le puede negar además, lo original y moderno que debió resultar para el momento de su publicación.
Aún así a veces el mensaje me resultaba demasiado obvio y otros incomprensible.... lo dicho, es una obra hecha para dejar al lector reflexionando, y eso Hesse lo logra completamente.
Profile Image for Luís.
1,941 reviews605 followers
March 3, 2023
The Steppe Wolf is a novel by German writer Hermann Hesse. The author is a pacifist and a great humanist. The book had published in 1927. Although this novel has published at the beginning of the 20th Century, it has kept all its freshness and brilliance. This work is a robust, powerful, and dense book. A preface precedes this novel by the publisher, where he explains how he came into possession of the manuscript. The main protagonist of the story is Harry Haller. He is in his fifties and lives alone because his wife left him. He has an extraordinary intelligence quotient: IQ. He's an introvert. He avoids his peers and only goes out at nightfall to roam the city. He likes to read philosophy books, listen to classical music, and love poetry. He runs away from people, so he gives himself the nickname of Steppe Wolf. He has suicidal impulses because he sometimes thinks about suicide. One evening, afraid of taking action, he enters a tavern. There, he meets a bubbly young woman, Hermine. The latter, taking life on the bright side, becomes attached to him and leads him to dance, drink and live like his fellows. With the meeting with Hermine, Harry became another. He must reconcile the two sides: the animal part in us and the spiritual domain. The Steppe Wolf: A masterpiece!
Profile Image for Pedro Pacifico Book.ster.
313 reviews3,164 followers
January 21, 2021
A primeira leitura de 2021 já começou muito marcante para mim. Como comentei com vocês, fazia algum tempo que não me identificava tanto com um livro. Já era um grande fã de Hesse depois de ter lido “Sidarta” e “Knulp” e, depois de “O lobo da estepe”, talvez possa falar que o autor está no meu top 10 de escritores favoritos.

Nessa obra, Hesse apresenta ao leitor a história de Harry Haller, um homem na faixa dos 50 anos que vive crises existenciais, e é por meio dos diálogos internos do protagonista que o autor, influenciado pela psicanálise, traz reflexões interessantíssimas sobre a condição humana.

No começo da narrativa, nos deparamos com um Harry cansado da vida e que, constantemente, é acometido por pensamentos suicidas. Esse estado psicológico do personagem deixa o começo da leitura até mesmo mais parada_ talvez tenha sido algo intencional, a fim de refletir a melancolia de Harry_, mas um acontecimento pouco inusitado em sua vida coloca o personagem de frente com “O tratado do lobo da estepe” e com novas amizades que trarão uma vontade de viver a Harry. É a partir desse momento que a narrativa se desenrola de forma extraordinária!

Há, também, uma crítica constante à hipocrisia que recai muitas vezes sobre a classe burguesa. Isso porque o protagonista tece diversos comentários contra a burguesia, esquecendo, por sua vez, que ele mesmo se enquadra como uma luva nessa faixa social.

Achei interessante que, no posfácio da obra, o autor avisa que leitores mais próximos da meia idade tendem a se identificar ainda mais com os pensamentos do personagem. Se eu já me identifiquei muito, fiquei com vontade de fazer uma releitura daqui a 20 anos. Com certeza as reflexões serão diferentes e mais profundas! Recomendo muitíssimo!

Nota: 10/10

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Profile Image for Perry.
632 reviews533 followers
August 4, 2018
The Best Novel on the Intellectual Male's Midlife Crisis

I might well have ridiculed this novel at 20, when I was unconquerable, infinite, the world my oyster. Thirty years on, having been through the process of disenchantment called life, and survived the tragic ends (de facto and de jure) of each chapter of my personal myth--the perfect job, a huge house, insane wealth, and adoration of both my looks and smarts--I find this novel profound.

Hermann Hesse wrote this in his late 40s and I can see parts of myself--now and in my recent past--in his fictional alter ego, Harry Haller, a self-isolated intellectual who thinks of himself as a steppenwolf (or a wolf from the steppes), experiencing an ongoing existential crisis, bouts of acute loneliness, fleeting thoughts of death, and a continuing coming to terms with a bourgeois society which he hates yet needs. I can see the wisdom of a life lived, in terms spiritual and at times--even still--animalistic.

I found fascinating the magic theatre to which Harry was invited, a place which serves as a reminder of why he should want to live, allowing him to experience encounters (not necessarily sexual) with females from his past, meetings with these unrequited loves or lusts in which he's no longer shy nor suffering the hangups and insecurities of a young man or boy.

Variations of this magical venue often pepper my dreams. Call them my subconscious yawps for immortality, or maybe, on a deeper level, my psyche's nocturnal pursuits of prurient propagation.

I highly recommend this novel to men in their 40s and 50s, and to their spouses/partners for possible enlightenment.
Profile Image for Nikos Tsentemeidis.
413 reviews215 followers
January 4, 2017
Συγκλονιστικό έργο. Βαθιά φιλοσοφικό και ψυχολογικό. Σε πολλά του σημεία είδα τον εαυτό μου. Δεν ξέρω γιατί αλλά μου θύμισε πολύ έντονα την πρώτη φορά που διάβασα Καμύ και συγκεκριμένα την πτώση.

Δεν έχω να γράψω κάτι, παρά να σας παραπέμψω στην κριτική της Ειρήνης που τα είπε εξαιρετικά, και εξαιτίας της διάβασα αυτό το βιβλίο και την ευχαριστώ

2 reviews4 followers
April 17, 2009
Now that I’ve reached middle age, I thought it was time to revisit that classic of earnest adolescent angst (despite the fact the novel’s hero is nearly 50 years old), Hermann Hesse’ Steppenwolf.

I found the early sections of the book dull, flat, pretentious, and swimming in its own vanity. But the later sections corrected some of these faults, and made the book interesting and worth reading overall.

My main problem with the early parts of Steppenwolf is that the novel is constantly tells us how fine a soul Harry Haller has: how intelligent he is, how spiritually enlightened, how artistically refined, how little he can tolerate the world of power and money and order and easy pleasures, or understand the lives of ordinary people, and how much he suffers.

But the novel is always telling us these things about Harry; it never shows us these qualities or convinces us that they are true. Harry’s uniqueness is described first in an introduction to the manuscript written by a middle class businessman of slight acquaintance with Harry; then by passages written by Harry himself; then in a magical “Treatise on the Steppenwolf” that Harry buys from a mysterious vendor.

Normally, one piece of sustained exposition is enough to set up a story the author can’t quite get going on its own. Three is too much. And the constant repetition of how exceptional Harry is makes me suspicious. Accomplished people go about the business of being accomplished. People who are not accomplished – but very much like the idea of being so – will announce their exceptional attributes constantly, substituting pronouncements for action.

The novel’s investment in Harry’s extraordinary qualities makes me believe that Hesse is also invested in them and that he is inviting us to invest in them as well. Only a great artist could bring a great artist alive on the page, is the implication: therefore I am a great artist. Only a truly intelligent and perceptive reader could understand a great artist; therefore you are an intelligent and perceptive reader.

This mutual admiration society constructed by Steppenwolf would be harmless enough if such vanity were not the most deadly enemy of art. All that is strange and delicate and inexpressible and irreducible in art – all its sublime alchemy – is thrown under the feet of flattery and easy compliment. The work exists only to puff up the ego and ambitions, and comfort the insecurities, of those associated with it.

This is harsh criticism, and it seems like it should be a fatal one. But as the book progresses, Hesse’ destroys any sense we have that all of Harry’s accomplishments have any real value. The book still sees him as a unique and rare soul – but a unique and rare soul leading a useless existence, a man who has forgotten how to laugh, who has forgotten how to find pleasure in life, who is a fool, a baby, and a wretch who should be pity and scolded and taken by the hand and pulled away from his stubborn loneliness and self-importance. This humanizes Harry and gives the book blood.

Finally, Steppenwolf has an interesting structure. It’s a mess, but it’s a mess that works pretty well with the novel’s themes and characters. Harry is always talking about great composers, Baroque ones like Handel, Mozart above all, but it is Berlioz' “Symphonie fantastique” that really is playing throughout the book.

So two solid stars for Hesse’ Steppenwolf. You could spend you time with many books, and many writers, far worse than this one.

Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
874 reviews2,264 followers
June 29, 2015
Half Bourgeois/Half Wolf

"Steppenwolf" starts with a fascinating 20 page preface that places a more conventional perspective on the rest of the novel (which is quite radical, if not exactly nihilist).

The unnamed first person narrator could be one of us. He purports to be "a middle class man, living a regular life, fond of work and punctuality, [as well as] an abstainer and non-smoker."

He gets to know the Steppenwolf, Harry Haller, while they both rent furnished rooms in his aunt's apartment.

He finds Harry and his behaviour foreign, alien, peculiar and odd.

Harry is "a real wolf of the Steppes, a strange, wild, shy - very shy - being from another world than mine [the narrator's]...a wolf of the Steppes that had lost its way and strayed into the towns and the life of the herd, a more striking image could not be found for his shy loneliness, his savagery, his restlessness, his homesickness, his homelessness."

The Torturous Riddle

The narrator sees a resemblance to Nietzsche:

"Haller belongs to those who have been caught between two ages, who are outside of all security and simple acquiescence. He belongs to those whose fate it is to live the whole riddle of human destiny heightened to the pitch of a personal torture, a personal hell."

Harry vanishes amidst rumours that he has committed suicide. All that remains is a manuscript found by the narrator, who decides to publish it, "as a document of the times...the sickness of the times themselves", in case it guides those who succeed him.

There is little clue as to whether the manuscript is fact or fiction, apart perhaps from the fact that occasionally during the preface Harry is visited by a "young and very pretty woman". Initially, I wondered whether she might have been his daughter. However, it's possible that she might have been "Maria", one of the women mentioned in the manuscript.

No Balance Between the Mean and the Magic

Early in the manuscript, Harry meets a man carrying a sign advertising an "anarchist evening entertainment" at the Magic Theatre. He gives Harry a booklet called "Treatise on the Steppenwolf". The protagonist happens to be called Harry Haller.

If Harry is the alter ego of the narrator of the preface, the protagonist of the manuscript is the mirror image of Harry (mirrors, both whole and splintered, abound in the novel).

Harry believes he is a "mixed being", he has "two natures, a human and a wolfish one" (the former of which is "the very same average man of bourgeois convention", the latter of which is "the free, the savage, the untameable, the dangerous and strong").

Harry stands outside the conventional world of the bourgeoisie, remote from "the search for a balance...the striving after a mean between the countless extremes and opposites that arise in human conduct...

"A man cannot live intensely except at the cost of the self. Now the bourgeois treasures nothing more highly than the self...The bourgeois is consequently by nature of weak impulses, anxious, fearful of giving himself away and easy to rule. Therefore, he has substituted majority for power, law for force, and the polling booth for responsibility."

Harry is unable or unwilling to find such a balance. The extremes and opposites live in perpetual conflict:

"In him, the man and the wolf did not go the same way together, but were in continual and deadly enmity. One existed simply and solely to harm the other, and when there are two in the one blood and in one soul who are at deadly enmity, then life fares ill."


"Steppenwolf" exhibition in Calw Hesse Museum

The Delusion of Dualistic Unity

Harry's understanding of himself contains an error or delusion that is shared by the bourgeoisie.

Harry thinks of himself as wolf and man, flesh and spirit, either way, a dualism.

He finds in himself "a human being, that is to say, a world of thoughts and feelings, of culture and tamed or sublimated nature, and besides this he finds within himself also a wolf, that is to say, a dark world of instinct, of savagery and cruelty, of unsublimated or raw nature."

The bourgeois worldview reflects a belief that humanity is a unity that endeavours to accommodate, if not resolve or reconcile, opposites or dualities.

In contrast, man is actually a bundle of selves, "a manifold world, a constellated heaven, a chaos of forms, of states and stages, of inheritances and potentialities... man is an onion made up of a hundred integuments, a texture made up of many threads."

An End to Detested Existence

The internal enmity exposes the Steppenwolf to a particular risk:

"The line of fate in the case of these men is marked by the belief...that suicide is their most probable manner of death."

Harry recognises that:

"Death was decreed for this Steppenwolf. He must with his own hand make an end of his detested existence - unless, molten in the fire of a renewed self-knowledge, he underwent a change and passed over to a self, new and undisguised."

The Invisible Magician

This is the real story of Steppenwolf: how he acquires new or renewed self-knowledge:

"I had already experienced it several times, and always in periods of utmost despair. On each occasion of this terribly uprooting experience, my self, as it then was, was shattered to fragments. Each time deep-seated powers had shaken and destroyed it; each time there had followed the loss of a cherished and particularly beloved part of my life that was true to me no more...

"It was then that my solitude had its beginning. I had built up the ideal of a new life, inspired by asceticism of the intellect. I had attained a certain serenity and elevation of life once more, submitting to the practice of abstract thought and to a rule of austere meditation. But this mold, too, was broken and lost at one blow all its exalted and noble intent."

It's within this context that Harry finds and reads the treatise:

"I read the Steppenwolf treatise through again many times, now submitting gratefully to an invisible magician because of his wise conduct of my destiny, now with scorn and contempt for its futility, and the little understanding it showed of my actual disposition and predicament."


Corresponding Through the Looking Glass

Harry's mind inevitably returns to the Magic Theatre:

"I understood the invitation to madness and the jettison of reason and the escape from the clogs of convention in surrender to the unbridled surge of spirit and fantasy."

In his quest to find the next show, he is advised to go to a club called the Black Eagle. Here he meets the first of two women who will help change his life.

She reminds Harry of his first girlfriend, Rosa. Equally, he thinks she looks like a boyhood friend, Herman. He guesses that her name is Hermine. It is. How could this happen? Hermine explains:

"Doesn't your learning reveal to you that the reason why I please you and mean so much to you is because I am a kind of looking glass for you, because there's something in me that answers you and understands you? Really, we ought all to be such looking glasses to each other and answer and correspond to each other..."

Harry responds, "There's nothing you don't know, Hermine. It's exactly as you say. And yet you're so entirely different from me. Why, you're my opposite. You have all that I lack."

She is his other half (in a Platonic sense). Equally, Harry and Hermine might be the two halves of Hermann Hesse himself.

Teacher-Woman and Courtesan

On their second outing, Harry and Hermine go dancing at the Balance Hotel, which features a small orchestra. Here, Harry meets the second woman, Maria, a friend of Hermine's, with whom he dances and quickly forms a relationship.

Later, on an evening walk alone, Harry intellectualises about the significance of music in his life:

"In the German spirit the matriarchal link with nature rules in the form of the hegemony of music to an extent unknown in any other people. We intellectuals, instead of fighting against this tendency like men, and rendering obedience to the spirit, Logos, the Word, and gaining a hearing for it, are all dreaming of a speech without words that utters the inexpressible and gives form to the formless.

"Instead of playing his part as truly and honestly as he could, the German intellectual has constantly rebelled against the word and against reason and courted music. And so the German spirit, carousing in music, in wonderful creations of sound, and wonderful beauties of feeling and mood that were never pressed home to reality, has left the greater part of its intellectual gifts to decay. None of us intellectuals is at home in reality. We are strange to it and hostile...There was nothing to be made of us intellectuals. We were a superfluous, irresponsible lot of talented chatterboxes for whom reality had no meaning."

The masculine seems to be Logos, the Word, Logic, Reality, whereas the feminine seems to be Music, the Imagination, Fantasy, Unreality.

When Harry returns home, he finds Maria waiting naked in his bed, which understandably distracts him from his preoccupation with "The German Ideology".

Harry's recovery is effectively triggered by two women. To paraphrase Hesse's biographer, Ralph Freedman, one is a "wise teacher-woman", the other a "courtesan".

A Pretty Cabinet of Pictures

The climax of the novel occurs in the Magic Theatre (after an evening at the Masked Ball), which for me created memories that have survived over 40 years since my first reading. The only fictitious scene I can liken to it is the ball in "The Master and Margarita".

Just as the personality has manifold aspects, the Magic Theatre "has as many doors into as many boxes as you please, ten or a hundred or a thousand, and behind each door exactly what you seek awaits you. It is a pretty cabinet of pictures..."

Harry must laugh in a mirror, so that the image of his mixed being, human and wolf, can disappear and he can enter "our visionary world...(and a jolly one it is)":

"True humour begins when a man ceases to take himself too seriously...You will learn to laugh like the immortals yet!"

Here, his saxophone playing host, Pablo (who doubles as Mozart), teaches him the art of "building up the soul":

"We demonstrate to anyone whose soul has fallen to pieces that he can rearrange these pieces of a previous self in what order he pleases, and so attain to an endless multiplicity of moves in the game of life."

Nothing But a Lover

Harry seeks out love's door. Until now, he has repressed his capacity for love:

"I was living a bit of myself only - a bit that in my actual life and being had been expressed to a tenth or a thousandth part...I was watching it grow unmolested by any other part of me. It was not perturbed by the thinker, nor tortured by the Steppenwolf, nor dwarfed by the poet, the visionary or the moralist. No - I was nothing now but the lover, and I breathed no other happiness and no other suffering than love."

"The Devil, But You Shall Live!"

Ultimately, in the Magic Theatre, Harry's host teaches him, "You are willing to die, you coward, but not to live. The devil, but you shall live!"

Harry's response is to make a resolution:

"I knew that all the hundred thousand pieces of life's game were in my pocket. A glimpse of its meaning had stirred my reason and I was determined to begin the game afresh...I would traverse not once more, but often, the hell of my inner being...one day I would be better at the game. One day I would learn how to laugh."

"Steppenwolf" makes no promise that our inner being will not be hellish.

It does, however, encourage us to laugh and play the game of life. Its message is quite the opposite of the nihilism with which it is usually associated.

After more than 40 years, it remains one of my favourite novels, both stimulating and beautifully crafted.
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,487 reviews2,374 followers
February 8, 2017
Written at a time when his own life was in some disarray, while battling his inner demons through depression and being treated as an outcast because of anti-war/military views, it comes as no surprise to me that Hermann Hesse wrote 'Steppenwolf' more semi-autobiographical rather than a work of out and out fiction, but this only makes for a more heightened reading experience with elements of realism that keep things from falling into the realms of complete fantasy. So thus begins a mythical, philosophical and spiritual journey into the darkest corners of a diseased mind, where dreams and reality collide, and the opposing forces of man and beast will ravage the living soul of our protagonist, the misanthropic Harry Haller, who on the surface would appear a well educated and reasonably normal being, but beneath lurks a disturbed and troubled man who is repulsed and alienated from modern society. Rather misunderstood at the time of publication this would go on to find a wider audience and become a cult hit with the youth of the 1960's, probably because of the hallucinogenic drug experimentation and open views on sex. As for the writing it's pretty much faultless, and it's here I have to mention David Horrocks, who has done an amazing job with this translation by using the original text to better effect after some not so reliable efforts in the past. This is surely one the greats of German literature, right from the start I knew a masterpiece was beckoning, truly quite something.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Andrei Tamaş.
438 reviews291 followers
March 16, 2017
Recomand acest roman tuturor celor care vor să descopere infernul dinlăuntrul lor.
Mi-am propus de foarte multe ori să scriu o recenzie asupra romanului "Lupul de stepă" de Hesse. Mă obseda însă ideea că nu aș fi capabil, că nu aș putea spune tot ce aș vrea să spun, că n-aș găsi cuvintele necesare pentru a descrie această carte. Ieșind din aura ei și scriind DESPRE ea, mi-e frică de faptul că o să-i ciopârțesc valoarea (nu sunt deloc un bun sculptor).
Poate cuvintele mele de mai sus nu înseamnă nimic pentru unii, poate mulți nu-mi vor înțelege "frica". Ei, acest lucru este surprins și în roman...

"Lupul de stepă" reprezintă lucrarea de căpătâi a condiției umane (varianta modernă). Dacă aș fi pus -cine știe cum!- să numesc un titlu, aș spune fără șovăire "În căutarea sensului vieții" (știu, poate e deja luat...).

Ştiu, de asemenea, că numai aceia care s-au gândit măcar o singură dată la actul sinuciderii în sine vor înțelege pe deplin romanul.

Într-o narațiune la persoana I, într-o Germanie bântuită de criza economică de după Marele Război, într-un oraș destul de însemnat, un anume Harry Haller care umblă din cârciumă-n cârciumă și care nu avea deloc probleme financiare (da, e unul dintre puținele romane bune în care banii nu joacă decât un rol protocolar), scriitor amator de versuri, dă nas în nas cu un străin care "din greșeală" uită o cărticică în mâna lui. Harry al nostru strigă după el, dar acesta mărește pasul. Buimăcit, începe a citi cartea... Acolo nu era altceva decât o "proză psihologică" (obiectivă de data asta), o proză al cărei personaj principal nu este nimeni altul decât el însuși. Problema care se ridică (și care se poate pune pe seama unei nevroze dată de singurătate, căci da, uitasem să spun că figura asta era "cel mai singur om de pe pământ") e aceea că întâmplarea face ca nu numai numele său să fie menționat acolo, ci și faptele și -mai grav!- gândurile, care nu sunt altceva decât niște electroni care plutesc în jurul nucleului: SINUCIDEREA!

Cartea e recomandată de autor "numai pentru nebuni".

Apare și o femeie, o felină numită Hermina, o frumoasă nimfa care ni-l duce pe Harry în tărâmul viselor. Consumul de substanțe halucinante, cu precădere opium, își spune și el cuvântul..

Titlul este dat după identificarea lui Harry Haller cu o altă latură a sa, o latură cu o conștiință și cu idei proprii, întotdeauna împotriva sărmanului Harry (cel care povestește).

Deja simt că am omis un triliard de detalii... Mă rog, de aceea am spus că nu e deloc ușor să cuprinzi cartea asta în câteva cuvinte; nu e o poveste simplă, ci e una cu foarte multe substraturi deductibile.

Ceea ce contează e că Harry își găsește "drumul său". Dar, vai!, asta după atâtea și atâtea frânghii trecute prin fața ochilor săi...

Nelipsitele fragmente subliniate (câteva, căci dacă aș fi subliniat cum aș fi făcut-o de obicei, ar fi trebuit să încep de la primul rând și să termin la ultimul, făcând, deci, risipă de cerneală):

1.Din acea "cărticică" primită de Harry, o scriere care se referă strict la el, el fiind obiectul de analiză al unui psiholog: "Traiectoria destinului unor oameni de genul acesta se caracterizează prin aceea că sinuciderea reprezintă pentru ei, cel puțin în propria lor închipuire, modalitatea cea mai plauzibilă de a muri. Premisa unei asemenea stări sufletești, remarcată aproape întotdeauna încă din fragedă tinerețe, starea care îi însoțește pe acești oameni pe parcursul întregii lor vieți, nu este defel o lipsă de vitalitate, căci, dimpotrivă, printre "sinucigași" există și firi extraordinar de tenace, avide și îndrăznețe."

2. "Cred că lupta împotriva morții, dorința necondiționată și încăpățânată de a trăi este sursa din care s-au alimentat activitatea și viața tuturor oamenilor iluştri."

3. "Seriozitatea, tinere, este o chestiune de timp; nu pot să-ți dezvălui decât că ea provine dintr-o supraestimare a timpului."

4." Oare idealurile există pentru a fi realizate?"

5." Dar tot eternității îi aparține și orice imagine a unei fapte adevărate, puterea oricărui sentiment adevărat, chiar dacă nimeni n-o cunoaște, chiar dacă nimeni n-o așterne pe hârtie pentru a o transmite lumii de mai târziu."

6. Regăsirea sinelui: "Într-o bună zi voi juca mai bine acest joc cu figuri. Într-o bună zi voi învăța să râd. Mă așteaptă Pablo. Mă așteaptă Mozart."

Andrei Tamaş,
16 septembrie 2015
Profile Image for FotisK.
367 reviews166 followers
January 23, 2018
Αυτό που οι περισσότεροι αποκαλούν "πραγματικότητα" δεν είναι τελικά τίποτε περισσότερο από την προσωπική τους αντίληψη και μετάφραση του επιστητού. Η κυρίαρχη αυτή ανάγνωση αποτελεί το κεντρικό πλαίσιο αναφοράς, μιας και η κοινωνική –ενίοτε αγελαία- φύση του ατόμου το ωθεί στην αγκαλιά της πλειονότητας.
Η "ωρίμανση", επομένως, αδιάλειπτα συνεπάγεται έναν σταδιακό απεγκλωβισμό από την προσωπική θέαση του κόσμου, από τον ιδιαίτερο τρόπο αντίληψης του υπάρχοντος, προκειμένου να ενταχθείς στην ολότητα. Το τίμημα, βέβαια, είναι σχεδόν πάντοτε υψηλό: να απωλέσεις την ατομικότητά σου, ανταλλάσσοντας τον αέναο τρόμο της αβεβαιότητας με την αγλαή τρυφηλότητα της πίστης σε μια κοινή ιδέα. Για τους "oi Polloi" δεν τίθεται καν το δίλημμα.
June 27, 2020
“Οι περισσότεροι άνθρωποι δεν δέχονται να κολυμπήσουν πριν μάθουν κολύμπι"
Δεν δέχονται να σκεφτούν πριν μάθουν να σκέφτονται. Αν μάθουν κάποτε, μένουν στα ρηχά συνήθως.
Στα ασφαλή επίπεδα της πλημμυρίδας που
εμπεριέχει την αφαλάτωση της μεγάλης ανωτερότητας
Ασφαλώς και δεν θέλουν να κολυμπήσουν,είναι φτιαγμένοι για τη γη, όχι για το νερό.
Και είναι απολύτως φυσικό πως δεν θέλουν
να σκέφτονται, αφού είναι πλασμένοι για τη ζωή και όχι για τη σκέψη.
Κι όποιος σκέπτεται, όποιος κάνει κύριο σκοπό του
τη σκέψη, αυτός βέβαια μπορεί να προχωρήσει μακριά, αλλά έχει αντικαταστήσει τη γη με το νερό και προφανώς κάποια μέρα θα πνιγεί.

Το βλέμμα του «Λύκου της Στέπας» διαπερνούσε όλες τις επαναλαμβανόμενες εποχές, ��λα τα καταγεγραμμένα χρονικά της ανθρώπινης ιστορίας. Όλη τη ματαιοδοξία, όλη τη φιλοδοξία, όλες τις δραστηριότητες και όλο τη επιφανειακό παιχνίδι που παίζει η φαντασμένη ρηχή πνευματικότητα.
Το βλέμμα του πήγαινε ακόμη πιο βαθιά. Βαθύτερα, πέρα απο τα ελαττώματα και την απελπισία της αποχής μας, την οκνηρία του πνεύματος και του πολιτισμού. Αυτή η ραδιενεργή ματιά έφτανε ως τον πυρήνα της ανθρωπότητας, ακύρωνε κάθε ψήγμα αξιοπρέπειας
όχι μόνο για την διανόηση και την πνευματική ανωτερότητα αλλά και για το ίδιο το νόημα της ανθρώπινης ύπαρξης.

«Κοίταξε τι μαϊμούδες είμαστε
Κοίταξε πως είναι τώρα ο άνθρωπος!»
Μεμιάς όλη η διασημότητα, οι επιτεύξεις, οι αγορεύσεις για την ανθρώπινη βούληση , τα πνευματικά μεγαλεία και η σταθερότητα στην πίστη για καθετί το ανθρώπινο κατέρρευσαν και έγιναν ένας μαϊμουδισμός.

Τι συγκλονιστική γραφή σημάδεψε αυτό το βιβλίο,
κάτι σαν θεϊκό σημάδι χωμένο βαθιά στη σκόνη και
την πατημένη γη της ανθρώπινης συνήθειας,
της σύγχρονης αστικής ζωής, αυτής της στερημένης πνευματικά εποχής.
Αυτή η καλλιεργημένη και μίζερη αισιοδοξία του αστού, της πολιτικής ωφελιμότητας και της εκμετάλλευσης των συνανθρώπων, της αφέλειας, της στείρας ενέργειας λυσιτελών υλοποιήσεων για εμπορευματοποίηση και κέρδος.
Της αγελαίας προτροπής για τα πολυσύχναστα,
τα θορυβώδη, τα μαζικά, τα ευτελή, που είναι ακριβά
και αναγκαία για τους διψασμένους της ζωής σε μια ευωχία συνωστισμού που πασχίζει να ηδονιστεί στην παγίδα του έτοιμου και του δολωμένου, που υποφέρει απο ρουτίνα και άνεση και εκτρέφει το μέτριο και διαιωνίζει τον φυσιολογικό του μέσου όρου.

Πόσο με άγγιξε τούτο το γραπτό είναι απο τα δημιουργήματα που σου υπενθυμίζουν το μαρτύριο
της λανθασμένης κλίμακας βιωμάτων όταν ζεις
σε δυο ή περισσότερες εποχές ταυτόχρονα,
όταν δεν εντάσσεσαι, δε μοιάζεις, δεν συμμορφώνεσαι με την τάξη, την πραότητα, την χλιαρή ικανοποίηση απουσίας πόνου και την πληκτική ανεκτικότητα των καλών ημερών.
Σε όλα αυτά τέλος πάντων που χαμογελά εμετικά
η ανθρωπότητα και ο κατ’ευφημισμόν πολιτισμός,
που σου πλασάρουν τα ψεύτικα και τα χυδαία, τα τενεκεδένια, τα αποχαυνωμένα όρια που αγγίζει
η πώρωση μέσα σε ένα άρρωστο, λεηλατημένο και ευνουχισμένο Εγώ.

Στον Λύκο της Στέπας θέλησα ειλικρινά να χαρίσω την καρδιά μου, σαν να τη θυσίαζα σε κάποιο ναό προσωπικής πίστης που μου άγγιξε την ψυχή. Ταυτίστηκα μαζί του και ενδόμυχα συναισθάνθηκα
τις σπάνιες χαρούμενες ώρες του, εκεί που το βίωμα συναντάει την έξαρση και αγκαλιάζει την έκσταση, εκεί που το μοναδικό αναγνωρίζεται απο τον κόσμο μόνο μέσω της ποίησης, στη ζωή θεωρείται τρέλα!.....

Ξεκίνησα αυτό το ταξίδι διαβάζοντας με απίστευτη χαρά πως εισέρχομαι οικειοθελώς και φέρω ολοκληρωτικά την ευθύνη για την είσοδο μου σε ένα Μαγικό Θέατρο
με ξεθωριασμένη επιγραφή :


Μαγικό Θέατρο είναι το θέατρο που αποκαλύπτει τα πολλά παιχνίδια που παίζουμε και φτιάχνεται η κοινωνία μας, τα πολλά πιόνια, τους αμέτρητους εαυτούς μας και την πολυσχιδή υπόσταση μας, στον καθρέφτη του σκακιού που συνειδητά και ασυνείδητα δημιουργούμε στις σκακιέρες της ζωής.
Η πλειοψηφία, η δύναμη και ο έλεγχος στο μυαλό των ανθρώπων, απορρίπτουν αδίστακτα τις πολλές ευκαιρίες υπαρξιακής οντότητας , ζώντας εξ ολοκλήρου για τη σοβαρότητα των παραπλανητικών τους προσώπων στον ορθολογισμό και την ξύλινη υποδειγματική γλώσσα
ως τη μόνη ενεργά γνήσια πραγματικότητα, με αποτέλεσμα να κυριαρχούν οι άλλοι,οι εξουσιαστές, οι δήμιοι, οι σφαγείς, οι μασκαρεμένοι νεκροπομποί, οι γητευτές και οι ψυχοφάγοι που κερδίζουν στην εικονική πραγματικότητα του παρόντος.
Συμπεριλαμβανομένης αυτής των κυβερνήσεων που ξεκινούν αιματηρούς πολέμους και ψηφίζουν νόμους
που περιορίζουν και καταστρέφουν ακόμη και τη δημιουργικότητα, την αναπνοή, το άγγιγμα, το γέλιο,
το κλάμα, το κάλεσμα της φύσης και την απολυτρωτική κραυγή της πλάσης.

Ο Χάρι ένας καταθλιπτικός και βασανισμένος άνθρωπος. Η ζωή του σημαδεύτηκε ανεξίτηλα από τη ματαιότητα του θανάτου και τις άσχημες επιπτώσεις της αρρώστιας –είτε ψυχικής, είτε σωματικής.

«Κατά τη γνώμη μου, ο Χάρι υπέφερε από κατάθλιψη» Στο σημείωμα του συγγραφέα που γράφτηκε το 1961, ο Έσσε δηλώνει ότι αυτή είναι μια ιστορία «μιας ασθένειας και κρίσης» και τελικά μια θεραπεία.

Τελικά, είναι η αναγνώριση του εαυτού, των προσώπων που δεν είναι πια τόσο σοβαρά και μάλλον χιουμοριστικά.
Αυτό οφείλεται στο γεγονός ότι η αναγνώριση προέρχεται από μια νέα συνειδητοποίηση ότι ο εαυτός είναι μια κατασκευή πολλών διαφορετικών προσώπων που είναι όλα μέρος ενός παιχνιδιού και η ιδέα ενός παιχνιδιού υποδηλώνει την ψευδαίσθηση που έχουμε στη σοβαρότητα του ρόλου που παίζουμε,
του προσώπου που μιμούμαστε.
Είναι μια καταπληκτική αυτογνωσία που επιτρέπει
στο άτομο να αντιλαμβάνεται τη ζωή του πέρα και εκτός από τα αυτοδημιούργητα ανθρωπογενή του πρόσωπα που είναι μόνο δημιουργίες του εαυτού
και των κοινωνικών δομών, της πολιτιστικής κλιμάκωσης αξιακών κατατάξεων και των γλωσσικών σχηματισμών μέσα απο τη μουσική και τη λογοτεχνία, πέρα απο φυλές και έθνη.

Αυτό φυσικά περιλαμβάνει όλες τις φιλοσοφίες, όλες τις πολιτικές και θρησκευτικές ιδεολογίες και αναγνωρίζει την προσωρινή τους φύση προσαρμοσμένη στην τρέχουσα κοινωνική δομή της εποχής.
Είναι μια αποκάλυψη από τον εαυτό μας ως δώρο,
μια απόδραση από το εγώ μας, μια απελευθέρωση
απο τον ψευδαισθητικό εαυτό που ορκίζεται ότι
η πλειονότητα του κόσμου δεν γνωρίζει εσκεμμένα
και με παρωπίδες εγωτισμού, παίρνουν τα προσωπικά τους ως «αληθινά» και δεν βλέπουν την πολλαπλότητα του εαυτού και τα πολυσχιδή Εγώ τους που στην πραγματικότητα είναι αυταπάτες αυτοδημιούργητες απο ατομικές παραπλανήσεις.

Ο Χάρι Χάλερ δεν ένιωθε ότι ταιριάζει με την κοινωνία, ένιωσε περιφρόνηση για τη ζωή και για την αστική κοινωνία, για τον σύγχρονο κόσμο.
Η βαλβίδα ασφαλείας του ήταν το ξυράφι του, η γνώση ότι θα μπορούσε να αυτοκτονήσει όποτε ήθελε.
Ήταν αυτόχειρας στο θάνατο και σχιζοφρενικά ευφυής στη ζωή, ελεύθερος κρατούμενος των ανώτατων αξιών, της αιωνιότητας που δεν χαμογελά ποτέ, του αστρικού πάγου που φωτίζει τον κόσμο του άχρονου Εγώ ,
εκεί που δεν υπάρχουν ρολόγια δεν μετρούν οι μέρες, δεν ορίζεται η νιότη και το γήρας
Εκεί που αποπνέει η πλάση βάναυσους πόθους,
εκεί που με σάρκα θρέφεται το πάθος και με άγρια βάσανα ποτίζεται των ανθρώπων η φάρα που λιώνει στο θέατρο του καλοκαιρινού μεσημεριού απο φόβους και κρήματα, απο πολέμους που μυρίζουν σαπίλα επανάληψης και προσμονή μεθυσμένων μελλοθανάτων, τοκογλύφων της διάρκειας και ζητιάνων της τρέλας
που στολίζονται με την τέχνη των λασπωμένων πορνείων και της παραζάλης που σιωπηλά και
με λαγνεία απολαμβάνει τους φόνους που ανατρέφουν πολέμους και τα σκοτάδια του ήλιου σε κάθε θεατρικό γύρισμα της τέχνης.
Δεν υπάρχει φως πουθενά μονάχα αποδοχή και τότε ίσως και ελπίδα.

Υπάρχει ο πόνος και το μαρτύριο.

Ο πόνος είναι γέννημα θρέμμα της φύσης μας το μαρτύριο είναι επίκτητο.

Ο πόνος είναι η πεμπτουσία της ζωή�� και οι ιδιότητες του ορίζουν τον άνθρωπο. Υπάρχει ο πόνος της χαράς, της λύπης, του έρωτα , του χαμού, της απώλειας, της μοναξιάς, της παράνοιας, της ευφυΐας. Ο πόνος της απέραντης πολυσύνθετης ανθρώπινης κατασκευής που δεν μπορεί να προσδιοριστεί με μετρήσιμους προσδιορισμούς.
Πάντως είναι ο πασίγνωστος και διαβόητος πόνος που μας συντροφεύει απο τη γέννηση μας και μετά...

Το μαρτύριο όμως, διαφέρει και ανασυγκροτείται, επιβάλλει και εισβάλει χωρίς ενδοιασμούς αφού έχει αρχικά πάρει την άδεια απο κάθε ανθρώπινη οντότητα που του επιτρέπει πρόσβαση στα πνευματικά
και εγκεφαλικά δεδομένα. Στα βιοψυχολογικά προσωπικά αρχεία της εσωτερικής μυσταγωγικής τελετουργίας που οργανισμού. Και δέχεται αγόγγυστα
να υποστεί μαρτύρια να βασανιστεί, να σπαράξει, να απονεκρωθεί, να μετουσιωθεί σε βιωματικό μαρτυρικό εξάρτημα μαζοχιστικής αποπεράτωσης για χαοτικές υπάρξεις και ακούσιες αυτοχειρίες.

Κάτι που συνεχίζει ακόμη να με στοιχειώνει είναι όταν
ο Χάρι οραματίζεται τον Μότσαρτ να ξεσπάει σε ένα τρελό, τρελό γέλιο που το νιώθω να με τραντάζει μέσα μου.
Η ζωή, ενώ είναι όμορφη, είναι πραγματικά μια οδυνηρή τραγωδία, μια μαχητική, υπομονετική ύπαρξη που αποθαρρύνει τον θάνατο.
Χωρίς να έχει απολύτως τίποτε να στηριχτεί,
η ικανότητα του ανθρώπου να κάνει χιούμορ
και κωμωδία να αντισταθμίζει και να ισορροπεί
την ψυχή με έναν θετικό λόγο, με ένα τρελό, παρανοϊκό, συντριπτικό γέλιο.
Αυτό είναι το αντίδοτο της συνειδητοποίησής μας
στον παροδικό χαρακτήρα όλων των σχετικών αληθειών μας.
Βλέπουμε τις αντιφάσεις, φωτίζουμε και γελάμε, επιβάλλεται αυτό το γέλιο να προέρχεται από τα βάθη της ψυχής μας.

Αυτό που πρέπει να αναγνωριστεί είναι ότι ενώ
η ζωή παίρνει προσωπικά και ακίνητα στιγμιότυπα της πραγματικότητας και τα ερμηνεύει ως απόλυτα, εξακολουθεί να μην μπορεί να εξηγήσει τι κρύβεται πίσω από αυτά τα ακίνητα πλαίσια αντίληψης.

Η κινούμενη ροή της πολύπλευρης πραγματικότητας,
η σχετική φύση της αντίληψης, ίσως, αλλά αυτό μπορεί να συμβαίνει μόνο εάν οι άνθρωποι σταματήσουν
να γίνονται τόσο σοβαροί στα παιχνίδια σκακιού τους,
να παύσουν να είναι κριτικοί, ειδικοί και να απορρίψουν τις πεποιθήσεις τους σε απόλυτα /κλισέ /στερεότυπα/έθιμα-ήθη/ πατροπαράδοτες ταμπέλες ιδιοτήτων.

"Καλύτερα να μάθεις, να ακούς πρώτα!
Μάθετε τι πρέπει να λαμβάνεται σοβαρά υπόψη και γελάστε με τα υπόλοιπα."

Η μουσική που ακούμε μπορεί
να είναι παραμορφωμένη και να μην συμμορφώνεται
με τις αντιλήψεις μας, αλλά ποτέ δεν μπορεί να κρύψει την αιώνια μουσική της ζωής που υπάρχει μέσα της.
Ενώ πολλοί από εμάς έχουμε το θάρρος να πεθάνουμε για τα λάθη και τα εγκλήματά μας, δεν έχουμε το θάρρος να ζήσουμε πλήρως, αλλιώς, διαφορετικά. Όπως μας αξίζει, στην τελική.

Και όλα αυτά πραγματοποιούνται στο μαγικό θέατρο
- Είσοδος όχι για όλους
- Μόνο για τρελούς!
- Με κόστος, το μυαλό σου.
Η είσοδος και η εμπειρία σε αυτό το θέατρο συμβαίνει στο τέλος του μυθιστορήματος πίνοντας ένα μαγεμένο φίλτρο και καπνίζοντας κάποιο μυστικό βότανο τυλιγμένο σε κίτρινο ρολάκι χαρτί.

Καλή ανάγνωση.
Πολλούς ασπασμούς.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,004 reviews10.6k followers
September 30, 2011
Harry Haller fights a battle ever day against his animalistic nature, the Steppenwolf, the thing keeping him from fitting in with society. Will he conquer the Steppenwolf before it drives him to suicide?

I'd toyed with the idea of paraphrasing the opening of the 1970's Incredible Hulk TV show but it felt disrespectful to a book of this power. Steppenwolf is one of the more thought-provoking books I've ever read. I lost count of the number of times I stopped and pondered my own Steppenwolfishness.

Harry Haller is approaching 50, has few friends, and is contemplating suicide on his 50th birthday. For the most part, his friends are books and music. Seeing as how I'm writing this review on a website devoted to reading, I think more than a few of us can relate to Haller on some level. Who among us hasn't been at a party and thought "Man, I could be reading right now."

Haller's life starts spinning out of control when a strange man gives him a book entitled The Treatise of the Steppenwolf, in which he is mentioned by name. From there, Haller meets Hermine, a woman who guides him on a journey of self discovery (with sex and drugs.) The book takes a bizarre turn near the end.

The writing style is fairly accessible, even though it's been translated from German. Hesse throws a lot of big ideas around, like don't be afraid of life, don't let time get away from you, etc. I caught some references to Eastern religions, which makes sense since Hesse also wrote Siddhartha.

I don't think I'm doing a great job of conveying what I thought about this book. It reminded me of The Catcher in the Rye at some moments and G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday at others. I'm also struggling with how to rate it. I thought it was powerful and full of lots of interesting ideas but I'm not sure I actually liked it.

That's about all I have at the moment. I'm giving it a 4 with the caveat that I'll probably have to re-read it again sometime down the line to fully absorb it.
Profile Image for Owlseyes .
1,670 reviews269 followers
June 15, 2021
Personality should be integral, some psychoanalysts suggest.

Here we have an old, solitary and independent man ruminating upon his self, or his selves; a part human, and another one wolf-like.

Is he alienated? Is it a midlife crisis? An existential one? Do those parts cooperate with each other? Or, are they set apart, conflicting?

He just had a normal, gently-killing-time day. This is how the book introduces us to this character. One hot bath, some breathing exercises, some meditation,…old-books reading…two hours of pain,... and a drink.

He’s a no-home, no-motherland man. He ponders on the absurdity of life…and contemplates suicide. By 47 he had set this goal: after 50, it’s the right time to end his life.
A loveless, isolated life.

The beauty of absence-of-pain? Right, but he craves for “strong feelings”! Unlike those normal, average bourgeois people. They want a bit of both: of God and of instinct-life, a middle way.

In his youth time he liked walking over the night. He's got much contempt now for modern life: modern cinema, books, newspapers. Modern music: that repugnant jazz. That decadent music. These Americanized people.

He’s like a stranded animal, in a strange world. He’s been loving music: the piano and the violin; Mozart and Handel’s compositions. That kind of music transforms him. Provides him with visions: of Giotto’s angels, of Hamlet and Ophelia.

In the midst of all this chaos he still holds the hope for revelation.

He had a bourgeois life too; lots of friends: but no connection.

He was ferocious (he showed his teeth!), but he did good deeds as well. Sometimes his wolf side helped his human side.

-Is this a disease?
An illusion?

A grim, somehow too introspective a narrative. Very humane….very hazy…at times heavy that you’ll look for better moments in the text.
Poor Harry.
And yet, some integrity moments do occur.

P.S. A movie with the same title was made in 1974 (written and directed by Fred Haines). I'll try to watch it and add a few lines then. Like, Harry wouldn't have liked the introductory tunes of the film: too jazzy.
I'll be back.

The movie is a good attempt (someone said a Jungian one) to picture the dream-world of Harry. A good one, especially on the role of minimalist music (for those obscure moments) and cartoon-like scenes.

Harry’s grim phase will change upon meeting young Hermine. She’ll introduce him to the Magical Theater. He’ll be somehow transfigured: will buy a gramophone, will learn how to dance the foxtrot. (Can you imagine?!). And yet in his dreams there’s killing, the wolf still shows up, Wagner and Mozart too.

Harry told Mozart: “that machine killed music!”.

(it's there, written: "for madmen only")
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,526 reviews979 followers
April 13, 2018

A stray wolf of the steppes, now part of the herd of city-dwellers – there could be no more compelling way of picturing him, his wary isolation, his wildness, his restlessness, his homelessness and his yearning for home.

Herr Harry Haller has transcended his own timeframe and cultural space to become an universal symbol of the misunderstood intellectual, of the sensitive mind cast adrift on an ocean of mediocrity, of the voice of reason drowned by the howls of the dogs of war. Like Holden Caulfield, Jack Kerouac, Atticus Finch and, why not, like a later age Don Quixote, Haller is a rebel who inspires new generations to open their minds to new ideas, new experiences, to look at reality from a different perspective. Or, at the very least, to use the brains they were gifted with.

"Most people have no desire to swim until they are able to." Isn't that a laugh? Of course they don't want to swim! After all, they were born to live on dry land, not in water. Nor, of course, do they want to think. They weren't made to think, but to live!

With this Novalis quote, let's start our journey through the busy mind of this peculiar character: a 50 year old gentleman who rents a room in a bourgeois household in a little German town, sometime between two apocalyptic world wars. He comes out of nowhere, says very little, spends most of his time alone in his room or wandering the streets alone at night or drinking alone in out of the way bars. One day he leaves into the unknown, as mysteriously as he appeared. But he leaves behind a few weird notebooks, half confessional, half philosophical musings, half drug induced tripping.

He appeared to like everything, yet at the same time find it somehow laughable. In general everything about the man suggested that he was a visitor from an alien world, from some lands overseas, say; and though he found everything here attractive, it all struck him as a bit comical too.

There is little plot in the novel, yet also very little randomness or divagation. It's a carefully constructed edifice, with the occasional poetic arabesque blended in. Haller is introduced first by an outsider, the son of his host, then analyzed almost scientifically in a psychological treatise, later left to explain himself in his own words and actions only to finish in a psychedelic tour-de-force modeled on Dante's descent into Hell.

Haller is one of those people who end up caught between two eras, deprived of all security and innocence; one of those fated to experience to an intense degree, as a personal torment and hell, all that is questionable about human life.

It makes no difference how much or how little they are based on real life, these notebooks are an attempt to overcome the great sickness of our times, not by evading or glossing over the issue, but by seeking to make the sickness itself the object portrayed. They signify, quite literally, a journey through hell; a sometimes anxious, sometimes brave journey through the chaos of a mind in darkness.

Most of the novel I believe it is autobiographical, a memoir of Hesse struggling to cope with middle age, with the dreariness of everyday existence, with the hysterical hostility his pacifism awakened in a country drifting towards Nazism, with the loss of his youthful dreams and aspirations. Like his hero Haller, Hesse struggled with loneliness and suicidal tendencies but managed to exorcise his inner demons with the help of some Eastern mysticism and faith in a higher sphere of existence, a place that can be reached by following in the footsteps of giants like Socrates, Bach, Goethe, Dostoevsky, Mozart, etc.

There were books everywhere, not just filling the large bookcase, but lying around on the tables, on the fine old writing desk, on the divan, on the chairs, and on the floor. Slips of paper that constantly changed were inserted in them, marking the pages. And the number of books constantly grew because he brought whole bundles back from the libraries as well as very often receiving parcels of them in the post.

As a poet and an intellectual, Haller journeys towards his fiftieth anniversary from the outside in, retracting from a hostile and banal society to live among his books, paintings and music. Believing a pure mind needs to be free of the corrupting influence of the everyday struggle to make ends meet and of the cheap popular entertainment, Haller ends up locked inside a bubble of his own creation. He has become Steppenwolf , a bitter outsider snarling at the blind happiness of the sheep surrounding him. He looks at the ordinary life going on and ignoring his existence and he wants to be a part of it again, yet he is repulsed by the banality of this same bourgeois complacency.

The same thing happened to him as to everyone. The thing he most compulsively desired, most stubbornly searched and strove for, was granted to him, but more abundantly than is good for a human being. Initially all he dreamed of and wished for, it later became his bitter lot. Those who live for power are destroyed by power, those who live for money by money; service is the ruin of the servile, pleasure the ruin of the pleasure-seeker. Thus it was Steppenwolf's independence that proved his downfall.

The novel is mostly self-explanatory and brilliantly argued, albeit a bit difficult to get through due to its 'wall-of-text' structure. The main themes are introduced, expanded upon, reiterated and even turned on their head with an almost symphonic arrangement. I have numerous quotes to help me along my review, and the problem was not in finding them, but in cutting down the elegant arguments of Hesse into Goodreads manageable chunks, eventually leaving out what are probably essential bits and pieces.

Steppenwolf's nature was thus twofold, partly human, partly wolfish. [...] Far from helping one another, they were like mortal enemies in constant conflict, each causing the other nothing but grief. When two mortal enemies are locked in one mind and body, life is a miserable business. Well, to each his lot. None of us has it easy.

A facile interpretation of Haller is too see him only through the prism of his inner conflict between his animal side and his spiritual side, between his repulsion towards a bourgeois existence and his yearning to be a part of society, to come in from the cold. Indeed, I believe this forms a sizeable chunk of the whole novel. But at the same time, Hesse warns us against intellectual laziness, against pushing real people into prefabricated molds. In a passionate afterword the author even notes that most of the young readers who get fixated on Haller's rebelliousness or drug experiences miss the point that the novel is actually about a middle aged man breaking through the walls of his despair to find again a passion for life in all its misery and glory. His youthful innocence and enthusiasm is gone, but should Haller just throw his hands in the air and give up?

Was it a matter for regret? No, it wasn't. Nothing that was over and done with was a matter of regret. What I did regret was the here and now, all the countless hours and days lost to me because I just endured them and they brought neither rewards nor profound shocks to my system. Yet, praise be to God, there were also exceptions. There were occasional, rare hours that were different, that did bring shocks and rewards, tearing down walls and taking me – lost soul – back again to the living heart of the world.

Even if I was a stray animal, unable to understand its environment, my foolish life did have some meaning. There was something in me that responded to things, was receptive to calls from distant worlds above. My brain was a storehouse of a thousand images.

This music of the spheres that Haller occasionally hears and draws comfort from comes from his books and collections of poetry, from the works of his favorite composers, from famous paintings in galleries.

The armchair and the stove, the inkwell and the box of paints, Novalis and Dostoevsky were waiting for me, just as other, normal people expect their mother or wife, the children, the maids, the dogs and cats to be waiting for them when they get back home.

Like a seesaw, such brief moments of bliss are followed by despair and boredom which lead to anger, starting the Steppenwolf cycle all over again.

At such times a savage desire for strong emotions and sensations burns inside me: a rage against this soft-tinted, shallow, standardized and sterilized life, and a mad craving to smash something up, a department store, say, or a cathedral, or myself. I long to do daringly stupid things: tear the wigs from the heads of a few revered idols, stand the fares of some rebellious schoolboys desperate to visit Hamburg, seduce a little girl, or twist the neck of the odd representative of the bourgeois powers that be. For of all things, what I hated, abhorred and cursed most intensely was just this contentment, this well-being, the well-groomed optimism of the bourgeois, this lush, fertile breeding ground of all that is mediocre, normal, average.

Two images come to mind : one of a serene mountain lake on a beautiful summer day, its waters a perfect mirror of the sky, of freedom and peace. The other of a stormy sea with huge waves breaking against a solitary shore, cold and windy and deafeningly loud. Heller's argument is that a peaceful existence is not conductive to higher thought, that only through suffering we break through to a higher understanding of the world.

It is in such moments of elation, fleeting and precious like spray over a sea of suffering, that all those works of art have their origins in which suffering individuals have managed to rise above their personal fates to such a degree that their happiness radiates like a star.

Once, lying awake at night, I found myself speaking lines of poetry, lines far too beautiful and strange for me to consider writing them down. In the morning I no longer knew them, yet they lay hidden inside me like the heavy nut inside an old, brittle shell.

The image of the poet alone in his ivory tower is not a new one, but this particular poet would like to climb down and rejoin the human race. He could start by taking a closer critical look at what he calls highbrow and lowbrow entertainment. On the one hand, he sings odes of joy to the classics, on the other he despises jazz and radio shows. Does that make him a discerning critic or a dinosaur about to become extinct? The question is hardly resolved in the decades since the novel was published.

Were we ageing connoisseurs and admirers of the Europe of old, of the genuine music and literature of yore, merely a small stupid minority of complicated neurotics who tomorrow would be forgotten and laughed to scorn? Was what we called 'culture', spirit, soul, or dubbed beautiful and sacred, merely a ghost, long since dead and thought to be real and alive only by us few fools?

Our whole cultural world was a cemetery in which Jesus Christ and Socrates, Mozart and Haydn, Dante and Goethe were now nothing more than faded names on rusting metal plaques, surrounded by awkward and insincere mourners, who would have given a great deal to have their faith in these once sacred plaques restored to them.

Maybe the answer lies in reconciling the two warring beasts inside our soul: the carnal and the spiritual. Herr Haller starts with a little jazz, a bit of opium, some dancing lessons, some bed sports and with a much needed touch from another human being:

I found jazz repellent, but it was ten times better than contemporary academic music. Naively and genuinely sensual, its breezy, raw savagery could even affect the likes of me at a deep instinctual level.

... You take yourself too seriously, better take some dancing lessons

All at once a human being, shattering the clouded glass cloche that covered my corpse-like existence and holding out her hand to me, her beautiful, kind, warm hand! All at once things that mattered to me again, things I could take joy in, worry about, eagerly anticipate! All at once an open door through which life could get in to me. Perhaps I could start to live again, perhaps I could become again a human being. My soul, having almost frozen to death in hibernation, was breathing again, drowsily flapping its small, frail wings.

This mysterious Woman, Hermione, a casual encounter in a bar, is to be Haller's guide to Hell, like Dante's companion through the Inferno, here in the guise of a masked ball and a Magic Theater, a journey of rediscovery and of reconciliation between his dual poles of attraction.

She was the tiny little window, the minute chink of light in the dark cave of my fear.

Look here, once you can do it, dancing is just as easy as thinking. And it's much easier to learn.

You are unhappy so much of the time. Nobody should be like that, it's not good. I'm sorry for you. Try smoking a little opium.

Most of all, Hermione is a fellow traveler on this thorny journey, another Steppenwolf locked inside her own mind, struggling with unfulfilled aspirations and a hostile world (womenlib was several decades away). Will Haller grasp the offered hand or will he retreat back towards his lonely room? Well, I should leave a bit of mystery out of my review for those who have yet to discover this cult novel.


I still have a lot of quotes I was planning to use in my review, but most of them are riffs on the themes I already presented. Still, after all the work of writing them down, it would be a waste to delete them now that I've reached the final note.

Of course human beings are not fixed, enduring forms – which was, despite suspicions to the contrary on the part of their leading thinkers, the ideal view of the ancient Greeks – but rather experiments, creatures in transition. They are no less than the perilously narrow bridge between nature and spirit. Their innermost destiny drives them in the direction of spirit, towards God, while their most heartfelt yearning pulls them back towards nature, to their mother.

- - - -

A human being is an onion consisting of a hundred skins, a fabric composed of many threads. [a taste of Hesse's interest in Oriental studies, attributed here to Buddhist Yoga]

- - - -

Most human beings spend their lives acting compulsory, day after day, hour after hour. Without really wanting to, they pay visits, hold conversations, work fixed office hours – all of it compulsory, mechanically, against their will. It could all be done just as well by machines, or not done at all. And it is this perpetual mechanical motion that prevents them from criticizing their own lives in the way that I do, from realizing and feeling just how stupid and shallow, how horribly, grotesquely questionable, how hopelessly sad and barren their existence is. And oh, how right they are, these people, a thousand times right to live the way they do, playing their little games and pursuing what seems important to them instead of resisting this depressing machinery and staring despairingly into the void as individuals who have gone off the rails do, like me.

- - - -

Our country and the whole world would be a lot better off if at least the few people capable of thinking would stand up for reason and love of peace instead of blindly and fanatically heading towards a new war.

- - - -

On a few occasions I've expressed the view that all nations and indeed all individual human beings, instead of rocking themselves to sleep by mulling over false political questions as to who was the "guilty party", ought to be taking a searching look at themselves, asking to what extent they themselves, by their mistakes, their failure to act and their habitual bad practices have a share in the responsibility for the war and all the rest of the world's miseries. Only in this way, I argued, could the next war perhaps be avoided.

- - - -

Thus I had finally returned home, my head full of thoughts and echoes of the music, my heart heavy with sadness and desperate longing for life, for reality, for meaning and for things irretrievably lost.

- - - -

You had an image of life in your head, a faith, a challenge. You were prepared to do great things, to suffer, to make sacrifices – and then bit by bit you noticed that the world wasn't demanding great deeds, sacrifices and the like from you at all; that life wasn't an epic poem with heroic roles and that kind of thing, but more like the parlour of a conventional household where the inhabitants are perfectly content to eat, drink coffee, knit stockings, play cards and listen to music on the radio. And anyone wanting the other heroic and noble life, and having it in them, anyone venerating great writers and venerating the saints, is a fool and a Don Quixote.

- - - -

The final word of wisdom comes from the ghost of Mozart, a vision that comes to Haller at the end of his journey through Hell / Magic Theater, castigating our Steppenwolf for selfishness and pomposity: You are to live, and you are to learn to laugh. You must learn to listen to life's damned radio music, to respect the spirit that lies behind it while laughing at all the dross it contains. That's all. Nothing more is being asked of you.
Profile Image for هَنَـــاءْ.
342 reviews2,229 followers
February 22, 2017

يتكرر الأمر بجنائزية مرعبة.
ندفن شيئاً، نطمر أشياء.
نقف مكتوفي الأيدي حيال الكثير.
ولا نفقد الجاذبية التي تُجَمّع ذرّاتنا إلا في السر،
حيث نثق أن لا أحد.

ذئب البراري
ذئب السهول
رواية أو سيرة ذاتية .. أقرب ما تكون لقلب هيسه فقد لمحت ذلك وهو يصف الصور التي علّقها ذلك الغريب على حائطه. لا أدري كيف شعرت بأن هذا الحائط الذي يصفه هيرمان هو حائطه الشخصي والصور حقاً صوره التي يراها بأم عينه ويسجلها بإسم ذلك الغريب .. "الذئب".
ربما لأنها كانت لغاندي وبوذا وجوته ولعلمي بأن هؤلاء بالتحديد هم من أثر على ثقافته ومسار فكره. أو ربما مجرد حدس.

مع الأيام تدرك ما حَطمك .. أو يزيد جهلك به. تقاوم المعرفة كما تقاوم ألدّ عدو. وتعرف أنك بمعرفتك اكتسبت شقائك.
تَربط ؟!
كيف ؟
وتخيط ..
في "جسدك"
وتربض على تمزق يمشي فوق أجزائك. على أشيائك .. حول أحشائك.

والمأزق الأَلَد حين تحب رغم أنك ذئب .. وتحتار بين الإنسان والوحش.
أيهم أنت ؟!
حقاً ....
من أنت ؟!

الخوف كل الخوف حينما يفهمك أحدهم. ويفسر القلق المحشور في عينيك .. ويحلل يأساً سكنها ولم يغادرها.

الخوف ممن يفهم تناقضات المثقف الحساس، وهروبه الذي يلازمك كظلك ..
ويشعر بانتفاضة الطفل الصغير الذي تعمّدت ردحاً بين أضلاعك وهزتك هزاً عنيفاً أقصاك عن هذا العالم.

حقاً ....
من أنت ؟!
أي المرايا تعكس حقيقتك .. ؟
ولماذا عليك الفرار المستمر ..؟

يتوقف شي
يتحرك شيء
تبكي ..
تطلب الفكاهة كي تسخر وتتسامى فوق آلامك. إلا أن شيء يجذبك للأسفل حتى يحطمك.
أنت لا تسمو ....
بل تتخبط !!

عزلتك فرارك الدائم. تقضي حيوات بعيداً بها عن حياة واحدة تغنيك عنهم.
رحلة بحثك كانت لغزاً من البداية ولم يوافق منك حلاً لها أنسب.

نعم ......
لماذا أنت ؟!

لم تحتمل مصيرك المجهول في دنيا غزاها صخباً وبربرية ورتابة
لأن ..
أقسى ما تجد التكرار. في المصائب وحدها. في الآلام بعدها. في الوحدة الخانقة. والهم الثقيل.

برجوازية مزعجة .. ذو حدين وأطراف قاتلة. وكل الرؤوس السامة انغرزت فيك من قبل اقترابك الأخير من حتفك.
لا تنتحر !!
لا تقتل نفسك !!
قبل أن تعرف حقيقةً ....
من أنت ؟!
أيهما يشبهك أكثر ..
الإنسان بعلو كرامته
أم ...
الذئب بوحشيته وهمجيته !

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