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. #61
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Should we focus upon the Treatise of the Steppenwolf for a bit to focus the discussion?

    mkhockenberry - it's the second time I've read this book. I remember getting not very much out of it the first time round, but because of Siddhartha, I thought i'd give it another go. It's not your usual book is it? I joined the James discussion over xmas on the Turn of the Screw, but I didn't really like that one. All to one's taste I say.

  2. #62
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paulclem View Post
    Should we focus upon the Treatise of the Steppenwolf for a bit to focus the discussion?
    Not a bad idea Paul. I assume we should. But let me tell you, I thought it was boring and unartistic. But I guess if the core of the novel is there, then we should discuss it.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    Books are embalmed minds.

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  3. #63
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    Not a bad idea Paul. I assume we should. But let me tell you, I thought it was boring and unartistic. But I guess if the core of the novel is there, then we should discuss it.
    I thought the Treatise was abolsutely fascinating though perhaps that is becasue I could see so much of myself within it. But at any rate I do think it is a key factor into understand the story at large and what Hesse was wishing to accomplish and convey within the story.

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

  4. #64
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    Ok there is something I just have to know, becasue it is not made completely clear to me. Is Hermine truly suppose to be one in the same with Harry's old friend Herman? Or is Hermine just playing the role as a way to attract Harry's attention?

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

  5. #65
    Internal nebulae TheFifthElement's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    Ok there is something I just have to know, becasue it is not made completely clear to me. Is Hermine truly suppose to be one in the same with Harry's old friend Herman? Or is Hermine just playing the role as a way to attract Harry's attention?
    I don't think Hermine exists. I think she is a construct of Harry's personality.
    Want to know what I think about books? Check out http://biis-books.blogspot.co.uk/

  6. #66
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFifthElement View Post
    I don't think Hermine exists. I think she is a construct of Harry's personality.
    So are Pablo, Maria, and all the other figures at the masked ball just different figments or aspects of the multiple different individualities of the Steppenwolf? And Harry expressing the varying different personalities which live within him?

    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. #67
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    So are Pablo, Maria, and all the other figures at the masked ball just different figments or aspects of the multiple different individualities of the Steppenwolf? And Harry expressing the varying different personalities which live within him?
    I was beginning to think along those lines. The realisation that Haller's narration is only loosely based upon what actually happens made me re-think the events later in the book. The Magic Theatre is a fantastic construct, and I think you're right DarkM about the multiple personalities. Hermine/Herman - is she a cypher for aspects of love, (though not physical love - Maria)?

    There's a lot of dancing later, though our narrator makes it clear that Haller has difficulty walking - twice.

  8. #68
    Internal nebulae TheFifthElement's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    So are Pablo, Maria, and all the other figures at the masked ball just different figments or aspects of the multiple different individualities of the Steppenwolf? And Harry expressing the varying different personalities which live within him?
    Yes, I think so. I think it's also significant that he kills Hermine in the end, and so he is 'condemned to live'. Hermine seems to represent the part of Harry which is adept in the things he himself avoids/despises - dancing, socialising, etc - and in expressing her wish for Harry to kill her this was, instead, Harry himself expressing his desire to destroy those aspects of his personality which he seemed to see as base or alien to him. But that wasn't his lesson, and so he failed; he didn't achieve 'Immortality' and was instead condemned to live. Because it seemed to me that he was supposed to be learning to live with, to embrace, all aspects of himself, to put aside his personality (or perhaps what he perceived was his personality) instead of permitting his perceived dual nature to pull him apart and feed his desire for self destruction. I think this is the 'healing' of which Hesse spoke. Or I might be miles off the mark, but that's what I got from it anyway.
    Want to know what I think about books? Check out http://biis-books.blogspot.co.uk/

  9. #69
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    He kills Hermione!! Oh my gosh. I can't wait to get to that.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    Books are embalmed minds.

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  10. #70
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFifthElement View Post
    Yes, I think so. I think it's also significant that he kills Hermine in the end, and so he is 'condemned to live'. Hermine seems to represent the part of Harry which is adept in the things he himself avoids/despises - dancing, socialising, etc - and in expressing her wish for Harry to kill her this was, instead, Harry himself expressing his desire to destroy those aspects of his personality which he seemed to see as base or alien to him. But that wasn't his lesson, and so he failed; he didn't achieve 'Immortality' and was instead condemned to live. Because it seemed to me that he was supposed to be learning to live with, to embrace, all aspects of himself, to put aside his personality (or perhaps what he perceived was his personality) instead of permitting his perceived dual nature to pull him apart and feed his desire for self destruction. I think this is the 'healing' of which Hesse spoke. Or I might be miles off the mark, but that's what I got from it anyway.
    You make an excellent point and I think you are quite right about the meaning of the event and the death of Hermine. At first I was rather struck with the idea that even after everything else, after he had his eyes opened and rejected the Steppenwolf and saw the truth of the infinity of selves, he still reverted back the old Harry again, but it makes sense that it was his effort to try and reject that opposing aspect of himself.

    I do find it interesting though that it seemed to be so significant that before he could try and kill Hermine/that aspect of himself, he had to first fall in love with her/it. That must suggest that Harry had also come to love that side of himself that was adverse to how he saw himself, and it was his love for it that made him seek to destroy it.

    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. #71
    Registered User the facade's Avatar
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    Finished it!
    So I've been reading your comments and there are some very interesting things.
    There was something so particularly poignant in the treatise about people who share a similar fate with Harry as they are the epitome of men caught in between the chairs (so to speak) of two ages. I've often felt the same way about myself.
    Regarding the killing of Hermine, I'm inclined to disagree with some of you. I personally interpreted it as Harry's breach of his narrow-mindedness in believing in only two entities within himself and not more (as the treatise explains) and in so he was able to successfully integrate the facets of himself - Hermine - that he was in need of; not emancipate himself from them. I feel that this point is strengthened by Hesse's therapeutic intentions as presented in the foreword.

  12. #72
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    I'm slowly getting there. I'm now three quarters of the way through. I can't say i'm overwhelmed. The characters aren't all that developed or three dimensional, I'm not sure where this plot is going, and it gets preachy in places. The love scenes with Maria are interesting, in a prurient sort of way. I'm also confused about Steppenwolf. Where is the supposed savagery of his nature? I've yet to see any dramatization of his dualistic self. I'm not seeing the description of the Steppenwolf as described in the Treatise and Harry Haller's character. But the story is engaging and I'm curious as to how it turns out.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    Books are embalmed minds.

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  13. #73
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Muse View Post
    So are Pablo, Maria, and all the other figures at the masked ball just different figments or aspects of the multiple different individualities of the Steppenwolf? And Harry expressing the varying different personalities which live within him?
    Oh I'm reading this now. This has crossed my mind as well. I hope it's not a surprise ending and we find out at the end it's all a fantasy in Harry's mind.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    Books are embalmed minds.

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  14. #74
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    I'm slowly getting there. I'm now three quarters of the way through. I can't say i'm overwhelmed. The characters aren't all that developed or three dimensional, I'm not sure where this plot is going, and it gets preachy in places. The love scenes with Maria are interesting, in a prurient sort of way. I'm also confused about Steppenwolf. Where is the supposed savagery of his nature? I've yet to see any dramatization of his dualistic self. I'm not seeing the description of the Steppenwolf as described in the Treatise and Harry Haller's character. But the story is engaging and I'm curious as to how it turns out.
    Regarding the so called "savagery" in nature of the Steppenwolf, I think that is looking at the concept of the Steppenwolf a bit too literally, which I do not think is truly what Hesse is intending to convey.

    As it is reference in the Treatise of the Steppenwolf and comes out later during the magic show, in truth the ideal of the Steppenwolf, that is the duel aspect between man and wolf, is in fact an illusion. The truth is that there are in fact countless numerous individualities contained within, but most people can only see a unified singular individuality.

    While the so called Steppenwolf, is tortured because he sees through the illusion of being a unified singular person, his ability to penetrate through the truth stops at this duel aspect of himself. It is this which drives him away from society and isolates him.

    The term Steppenwolf, means "wolf of the steppes" which is meant to capture more the idea of a lone wolf figure, an outcast, an exile, more so than the idea of something savage or something "beastly"

    Though Harry feels at times like he is a beast in his rejection of society, in the way in which he does not feel like he belongs, and the fact that he is incapable of forming relationships with other people. But this should not be confused with something werewolfian so to speak, that is something that is in fact physically brutally violent.

    It is more of a struggle to try and break free from the norms, and limitations of the bourgeoisie society, and embrace a more libertarian lifestyle as expressed in his liaisons with Maria and the drug use of Pablo, and the free sort of lifestyle which they live.

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

  15. #75
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    I think it goes further than that. Although he chooses to live in the bosom of the bourgeoisie, he does not feel a part of it, and is perceived as different by our narrator.

    Is his healing about accepting the fun side of life, whislt his killing of Hermine, which he anticipates her asking him, is a moving on from this?

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