View Full Version : to synthesize the plot of Steppenwolf

10-11-2006, 10:20 PM
Hello, I'm Jesse, have written a (poor, unpublished) novel a few years ago, and currently I'm experiencing minimal success as a poet. My favorite novel is Hesse's Steppenwolf, and researching to write a second novel, I want to attempt a synthesis of Steppenwolf's plot into which structure I might translate my own experience. I will begin to reread and read closely the text, keeping the brunt of the proposed task foremost in mind, however I am looking for interesting vantage points that others may offer, certain moments in the text that, for instance, one would love to read in the context of comtemporary America.

Briefly, what three instances are most pivotal in Steppenwolf? And if you had to take two books into permanent seclusion, one requisite being Steppenwolf, what would be its companion book?

10-27-2006, 10:19 AM
I would actaully have liked the author of the pamplet 'Treatese on the Steppenwolf' to have been more revealing about himself.

10-27-2006, 10:30 AM
Perhaps Haller wrote it, in a schizophrenic stupor, dream, or fugue.

11-26-2006, 07:28 PM
It has been over a decade since I last read Steppenwolf, but I have read it several times and is one of my favorite novels. However, what sticks with me is not any pivotal events, but rather the theme about someone both drawn and repelled by society. As our society becomes more complex the theme of duality becomes more pronouced. For example, technology is something that both simplifies and complicates our lives. I can imagine a character that is both drawn to and repulsed by technology. :crash:

Good luck

02-08-2007, 11:46 PM
I have not read steppenwolf since the 70's. At that time I read all of Hesse's works. To me steppenwolf just started getting really interesting at the end, in the magic theater. The obvious steppenwolf 2 would further expand on the magic theater, getting more bizarre as it went along. the stodgy main character's personality would become more and more liberal as whatever did not kill him made him stronger. That is how i have always felt the story should have been continued. Any other premise was probably covered in one of Hesse's other works. The Glass Bead Game probably covers the most of Hesse's personal philosophy making clear what he was trying to say in Narcissus and Goldmund as they were essentially the same story. Thats how i feel anyhow.

05-28-2007, 07:24 PM
The three most pivotal events are the reading of the treatise, the meeting of Hermine, and the experience at the magic theatre.
The treatise forces him to realize that he is not as alone as he thinks and prepares him to open to the multiplicity of the self, Hermine leads him to further explore his multiplicity, and the magic theatre leads him to find that he still lacks a sense of humor and that he still has much to work on.

Master Niklaus
01-11-2008, 03:11 AM
For all those who voted Hermine, did not understand the book. She is obviously the mirror of Harry, and for all who ask how to fix it, the novel is perfect. The plot is perfect as is the character development, it leaves an even playing field. If you look at Hermine and Harry being mirrors of eachother it is perfect, Pablo is Hermine's Mozart, the connection they each have with the immortals. Harry killing Hermine, was not killing her but him/his wolf, the entire mirror image scene in the end, was figurative to the whole set up of him breaking through himself, as with her doing the same. Harry who is always passive had to commit the aggressive actions, while Hermine had to be passive, even though it was always her who had to be aggressive. It was her who approached him in the bar, it was her who invited him to the dance, to take her out on dates, it was him who followed, it was him buy her things, it was him to surprise her, it was him to find her, and as the story went on, Harry had to come out of his shell, unveil his mask, while she had to put one on. Hesse brings out all these literal scenes through out the novel, to act upon the actual plot.

And to the To-Be-Author it is things like these, the mirroring of characters, the portrayal of plot and character through images, is what you have to learn from Hesse, if you take any scenes or characters from him, it will never be your own, you will just be another critic with an opinion on Hesse. It is the style you can learn from and make in to your own. Dont be stupid, be creative.

Master Niklaus
01-11-2008, 03:15 AM
And to your question, the points are obvious, but I doubt that you can learn anything from them, they are pivotal because of this plot, not your yours, when you look at the generalities of them they are nothing special, except the style in which they are done. And for the two books there are two answers, If I want to live with hope Steppenwolf and Siddartha, If I want reason to die in a poetic way, Steppen Wolf and The Glass Bead Game.

Tom Voke
07-02-2009, 08:09 AM
All of the above characters are Harry Haller/Hermann Hesse. It's autobiographical. Master Niklaus sums it up fairly well, though I would add that it is a Jungian tale too, for Hesse was influenced by Jung and also D.T. Suzuki. Hermine and Maria are his anima. Read up on Carl Jung to get his Eve, Helen, Mary (Maria) Sophia (Hermine) "types." Google is good for that. It will be difficult to understand without a brief look at Jung's anima theory/hypothesis. It will be much more difficult to get the gist of D.T. Suzuki and Zen Buddhism, but Hesse was influenced by him as well.

As a note, I'm fairly sure Hermine was the yet unrealized Sophia anima, but she may be a representation of another Jungian archetype. To somewhat understand this work, one must somewhat understand what Jung said, whether you agree with him or not, and how others interpret both Jung and D.T. Susuki (meaning Zen Buddhism).

It seems D.T. Suzuki translated well, but since he was a Zen Buddhist and I am an atheist (I studied Zen Buddhism extensively by reading most of what Suzuki and others wrote) and I do not accept reincarnation, I see D.T. Suzuki not understanding the psychology of Zen. Suzuki claimed Jung did not "get" Zen (Jung wrote the forward to Suzuki's An Introduction to Zen Buddhism) however, I feel Jung understood Zen more than Suzuki, a supposed "master" did. Don't get me wrong, I like Suzuki very much.

Alan Watts' The Way of Zen is an excellent work to balance Suzuki's Zen. Watts takes a more skeptical approach and comes off as an atheist to me. He views Zen as psychology, not religion. It's difficult to say whether Hesse believed in reincarnation (unless I missed the news somehow). Hesse skirts the religious side of Zen Buddhism just as the Buddha (Siddhartha Gotoma) refused to give any religious explanations. Hesse speaks of the other side and immortality, but always stops short of explaining it and in the end always makes it sound non-religious (to me anyway). Still, one needs some Suzuki to get at what Hesse is saying since Hesse was influenced by Suzuki. You'll know what I mean when you read Suzuki, but that should take you a couple of years. He was a prolific translator and excellent commentator (although he tried to be sparse with his observations since those might interfere with apprehending what Zen is--he tells you what he thinks, you think Zen must be like this--the Zen experience/psychology is something only you can experience).

While Siddhartha and Narcissus and Goldmund are pretty much self contained, Steppenwolf will fly way over your head if you don't have at least a rudimentary understanding of what Jung and Suzuki say. It is without a doubt his most difficult work, although The Glass Bead Game: Magister Ludi is not far behind.