I read the novel Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse last night and today. I was truly inspired by its wonderful use of the English language. This is of course via proxy since it was originally written in German in 1927, and translated later (1929) to English.
I will be amazed if I don’t have some dark nightmare over this book. It is truly a complex book full of despair and sorrow. I had read Siddhartha many years ago and found its complexity in thought brilliant. If you read a novel, and it does not cause you to think about the world, and see it through a new lens; it has failed.
The suggestive bawdiness of the novel highlights the roaring 20s and all of its excesses. It offers the reader a lens into period in which the author wrote the novel. The openly lascivious period is a precursor to the free-love movements of the 1960s.
The 1920s are not what the novel is about. The “Steppenwolf”, literally wolf of the steppes, is a deeply conflicted and tormented soul. His life has become an empty shell of a life left unfulfilled. It is in his darkest hour he meets Hermine, who may be a figment of a tortured and opiate filled mind, who commands him to live. She commands him as a dominatrix to do her wishes. This command of the submissive steppenwolf is purely mental domination.
I will leave the rest to the potential reader to undertake. I don’t wish to spoil the novel.
The novel, though leaving me contemplative, is not my favorite of Hermann Hesse. I liked Siddhartha much better. Perhaps Siddhartha is more in line with my favor for classical and oriental literature.
I would recommend it if only to widen ones view of the world.