My Look at Steppenwolf (Possible Spoilers)

This post originally appeared on my other blog that pays me, and you if you want, to post and to comment @


Steppenwolf by the German-Swiss author Hermann Hesse is one of the most bizarre and fascinating books I have ever read.

Steppenwolf Art
Image Source

I don’t know the exact dates when I read it, but I think it was sometime in the first half of the year in 2011.

However, whenever it was, the story sticks with me deep in my mind.

As the story begins, the hero is beset by reflections on his being ill-suited for the world of everyday, regular people, specifically for frivolous bourgeois society. In his aimless wanderings about the city he encounters a person carrying an advertisement for a magic theatre who gives him a small book, Treatise on the Steppenwolf. This treatise, cited in full in the novel’s text as Harry reads it, addresses Harry by name and strikes him as describing himself uncannily. It is a discourse on a man who believes himself to be of two natures: one high, the spiritual nature of man; the other is low and animalistic, a “wolf of the steppes”.

This was of particular interest to me around that time in my life because I wondered if I was “ill-suited for the world of everyday, regular people, specifically for frivolous bourgeois society.”.

I had graduated college in 2008 and had yet to get a full-time job.

Also I had spent my time in college getting a degree in Social Studies because I want to know what makes people tick and how they function and how I could fit in.

In my years in college I would spend time wandering the streets on walks late into the night.

College was also the period of time in my life where I was exploring world religions and philosophy such as the “spiritual nature of man”.

All these factors resonated with me while I read Steppenwolf.

More Steppenwolf Art
Image Source

Struggling to cope with society, Harry, begins thinking about his own possible suicide.

Life can seem empty at times.

Harry then meets a young-woman named Hermine who “introduces Harry to the indulgences of what he calls the “bourgeois”. She teaches Harry to dance, introduces him to casual drug use, finds him a lover (Maria), and, more importantly, forces him to accept these as legitimate and worthy aspects of a full life.

This reminds me of something I came across last week in What will football be like in the future? (h/t slatestarcodex)

“And now boredom is their only enemy. And they get up in the morning and fight it every day of their eternal lives. Recreation and play sustain them. Football sustains them.”

Humans have long struggled with ennui.

Those who do should consider themselves to be so lucky.

In Steppenwolf Harry enters a Magic Theatre.

Here is where the novel gets weird, yet so very intriguing.

“The Magic Theatre is a place where he experiences the fantasies that exist in his mind. The Theater is described as a long horseshoe-shaped corridor with a mirror on one side and a great many doors on the other. Harry enters five of these labeled doors, each of which symbolizes a fraction of his life.”

Each door holds a fantasy store that is as captivating as it is strange.

Perhaps I have written myself into reading it once again.

Have you ever read Steppenwolf?
What do you think of it?

Stay tuned.
Stay interesting.
Stay Strange.


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