by Herman Hesse
Reading history and reviews
Finished on 16th February 2010I decided to re-read this on a whim, I think it's the third time I've read it now. I've always found it to be an extremely engaging and easy read, a thought-provoking and very humorous antidote to taking yourself - and indeed life in general - too seriously. For someone like me, perhaps a little prone to over-thinking and over-seriousness, I think that its genius lies in tricking you into identifying with Harry Haller (the eponymous Steppenwolf), before revealing him to be somewhat pompous and self-important - and then micheviously pricks the balloon of his world view and watches it deflate pathetically. I think that the message I always take away from it is essentially to "lighten up, professor".
There are also some great quotes. I think my favourite this time comes from an exchange when Harry claims that he's tired of life before admitting to Hermine that he's never learned to dance, at which point she remonstrates with him: "Fine views of life, you have. You have always done the difficult and complicated things and the simple ones you haven't even learnt ... to do as you do and then say you've tested life to the bottom and found nothing in it is going a bit too far."
Part of the pleasure of re-reading "Steppenwolf" is in encountering familiar episodes (for example, the "great automobile hunt" that Harry finds in the magic theatre) while also being surprised by things that I'd forgotten, and finding fresh insights in both. So I'm looking forward to reading again sometime.
Finished on 7th April 2013