View Poll Results: "Steppenwolf": Final Verdict

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  • * Waste of time. Wouldn't recommend it.

    0 0%
  • ** Didn't like it much.

    1 14.29%
  • *** Average.

    0 0%
  • **** It is a good book.

    1 14.29%
  • ***** Liked it very much. Would strongly recommend it.

    5 71.43%
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Thread: March '10 Reading: Steppenwolf by Hesse

  1. #31
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    Ok, but I assume Hesse wanted people to read that first. I guess you're so far along it doesn't make a difference at this point.
    Perhaps he did, but thus far I am not finding myself at a disavantage for not having done so.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  2. #32
    Internal nebulae TheFifthElement's Avatar
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    Yeay! I started reading last night. So far very good (as an aside, I'd very much recommend Kokoro by Natsume Soseki, very good).

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    Perhaps he did, but thus far I am not finding myself at a disavantage for not having done so.
    How do you know if you haven't read it

    Like Virgil said, it's part of the story. If you missed it out then you've effectively started reading at chapter 2.
    Want to know what I think about books? Check out http://biis-books.blogspot.co.uk/

  3. #33
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    I do not know much about Hesse's personal life, I have a bio on him floating around here somewhere but have yet to pick it up and read, but with all the references to Asian and Eastern studies and research that are mentioned within Steppenwolf, do you think that Hesse saw something of himself in Haller?
    I think he did. I've just read a potted bio here:

    http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/l...e-autobio.html

    and the main themes - pacifism, the problems with nationalism in Germany, eastern studies, living alone after divorce - are mentioned.

    It seems as if there is a lot of his experience in the novel.
    Last edited by Paulclem; 03-09-2010 at 05:12 PM. Reason: Knuckle obstinacy

  4. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    Yes, mine did too. I thought that was interesting. That's not the preface i mean, by the way. That's the author's introduction.
    I'm ashamed to say that's as far as I've read in the book. I'll get to it, soon... I think.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFifthElement View Post
    Yeay! I started reading last night. So far very good (as an aside, I'd very much recommend Kokoro by Natsume Soseki, very good).


    How do you know if you haven't read it

    Like Virgil said, it's part of the story. If you missed it out then you've effectively started reading at chapter 2.
    Well it has not hampered my understanding of the story, I do not feel completely lost of confused for my lack of reading it.

    It is not as if when I started reading I felt like I jumped in the middle of the story and I am missing something vital.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  6. #36
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    While this book is littered with a wide variety of literary allusions which play an important role within the story, and helping to shape the character of Haller and the ideas of the Steppenwolf and his struggles, it seems there is particular attention given to Goethe.

    He is mentioned a few different times throughout the book and there was the episode of the portrait of Goethe which played a key role within the story.

    I am not that familiar with all of the works of Goethe and I am curious as to just why he does seem to play such a role within the story, and if any of his works have elements that directly relate to the themes expressed within Steppenwolf and Haller's ideas.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  7. #37
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    While this book is littered with a wide variety of literary allusions which play an important role within the story, and helping to shape the character of Haller and the ideas of the Steppenwolf and his struggles, it seems there is particular attention given to Goethe.

    He is mentioned a few different times throughout the book and there was the episode of the portrait of Goethe which played a key role within the story.

    I am not that familiar with all of the works of Goethe and I am curious as to just why he does seem to play such a role within the story, and if any of his works have elements that directly relate to the themes expressed within Steppenwolf and Haller's ideas.
    I am also unfamiliar with Goethe - except that his version of Faust is superior to Marlowe's by all accounts.

    Within the story he is accorded the status of an immortal, like Mozart.
    Last edited by Paulclem; 03-10-2010 at 12:18 PM. Reason: Soft brain

  8. #38
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    That idea of "the immortals" which comes up often within the story also rather intrigues me.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  9. #39
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    I get the impression that they are metaphorically immortal - he does say it is poetic writing- in the appreciation of what they produced.

    As for the preface, I think Hesse sets us up with an expectation that this will be a conventional novel. In fact the narrator - the straight young fellow who spies a bit on Haller- gives us a conventional narrative in the preface. He observes Haller, gives his opinion, and relates the whole story to us up to the departure of Haller. What Haller has written goes far beyond that - it relates the inner poetic story thast is invisible to the bourgeois narrator. So we get two versions - the conventional and the poetic, which are quite different.

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paulclem View Post
    I get the impression that they are metaphorically immortal - he does say it is poetic writing- in the appreciation of what they produced.
    I wonder are the "immortals" suppose to be fellow Steppenwolves? They do seem to be literary or otherwise artistic types, and interestingly enough, as you mentioned the connection to poetic writing and the immortals, many of the so called immortals are also composers of music which can be seen as a form of poetry.

    They are figures were were different, and outside the norms of society, as well as being highly intellectual and/or visionary and seeming to be elevated a step above the rest.

    And in Haller's dream with the spirit of Goethe, Goethe speaks of his own constant struggles against death and seems almost regretfully that he had lived for as long as he did, which seems to reflect Haller's own constant struggle against death.

    Also didn't Haller express at one point his own desire to become and counted one among the "immortals?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Paulclem View Post
    As for the preface, I think Hesse sets us up with an expectation that this will be a conventional novel. In fact the narrator - the straight young fellow who spies a bit on Haller- gives us a conventional narrative in the preface. He observes Haller, gives his opinion, and relates the whole story to us up to the departure of Haller. What Haller has written goes far beyond that - it relates the inner poetic story thast is invisible to the bourgeois narrator. So we get two versions - the conventional and the poetic, which are quite different.
    That is quite an interesting thought. In a way it is like showing the external world vs the internal. And it is interesting to have a brief glimpse of Haller through the eyes of another and the way in which he is perceived and than to go from that to see Haller's own Self-Perception. That is an interesting narrative technique to view the character in two different ways as a way to gain a more complete picture of him by seeing him both through his own eyes, and through the eyes of outsiders.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  11. #41
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    I wonder are the "immortals" suppose to be fellow Steppenwolves? They do seem to be literary or otherwise artistic types, and interestingly enough, as you mentioned the connection to poetic writing and the immortals, many of the so called immortals are also composers of music which can be seen as a form of poetry.

    They are figures were were different, and outside the norms of society, as well as being highly intellectual and/or visionary and seeming to be elevated a step above the rest.

    And in Haller's dream with the spirit of Goethe, Goethe speaks of his own constant struggles against death and seems almost regretfully that he had lived for as long as he did, which seems to reflect Haller's own constant struggle against death.

    Also didn't Haller express at one point his own desire to become and counted one among the "immortals?"



    That is quite an interesting thought. In a way it is like showing the external world vs the internal. And it is interesting to have a brief glimpse of Haller through the eyes of another and the way in which he is perceived and than to go from that to see Haller's own Self-Perception. That is an interesting narrative technique to view the character in two different ways as a way to gain a more complete picture of him by seeing him both through his own eyes, and through the eyes of outsiders.
    I wondered about this because haller learns to dance later in the book, but the narrator clearly indicates twice that Haller has health problems and difficulty walking.

  12. #42
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    I've just re-read the preface, and it does lay out the life of Haller up to his departure from the apartment he has rented.

    It is worth the read, and re-read, as it offers insights into the nature of the ideas in the book.

  13. #43
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    I am curios about the business regarding the images, primarily the incident of the Goethe portrait, and Haller's reactions to it, and than his conversation with the currently nameless girl in the bar and her own expression about the saints and the savior, and the image she creates in her own mind vs the image that others create of them.

    It seems almost like some sort of anti-idolatry sentiment, though not necessarily purely in a religious sense in spite of the example of the religious icons given, but rather as if these "immortals" in spite of the fact that they were in fact living flesh and blood people have transcended beyond having their own images depicted.

    Particularly by those with him at least according to the Steppenwolf, who are in fact unworthy of the immortals and unable to truly understand or perhaps fully appreciate just who and what the immortals are/were and only the Steppenwolf might know them and be worthy of them.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    I am curios about the business regarding the images, primarily the incident of the Goethe portrait, and Haller's reactions to it, and than his conversation with the currently nameless girl in the bar and her own expression about the saints and the savior, and the image she creates in her own mind vs the image that others create of them.

    It seems almost like some sort of anti-idolatry sentiment, though not necessarily purely in a religious sense in spite of the example of the religious icons given, but rather as if these "immortals" in spite of the fact that they were in fact living flesh and blood people have transcended beyond having their own images depicted.

    Particularly by those with him at least according to the Steppenwolf, who are in fact unworthy of the immortals and unable to truly understand or perhaps fully appreciate just who and what the immortals are/were and only the Steppenwolf might know them and be worthy of them.
    Is it perhaps a reference to Plato's cave - that what the bourgeois see are mere shadows of reality, whereas the Steppenwolf perceives their immortal image.

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paulclem View Post
    Is it perhaps a reference to Plato's cave - that what the bourgeois see are mere shadows of reality, whereas the Steppenwolf perceives their immortal image.
    That is an excellent point, and a very interesting thought. Now that you have brought it up, I can very much see that as applying to the case.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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