Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
The principal character Harry Haller, also known as Steppenwolf is a strange man, a loner and a recluse. He is convinced that his main problem in life is the fact that he has two dueling personalities, namely that of a wolf; untamed, wild, savage, and that of a cultured man who is in awe of Mozart, and Goethe (two name just those two) and all which is thought to come from evolved and refined minds. He comes to learn one day that we all in fact have countless personalities. But his mental and spiritual suffering become so intolerable to him that he decides the only thing left for him to do is to kill himself. This is when he meets Hermine, a lovely girl who understands the Steppenwolf in all his complexity but also loves having a good time. She teaches Harry how to dance and pretty soon has him taking full advantage of the nightlife and beautiful women. Harry is happy for the first time ever, though he feels that this happiness cannot last.
I did not like this book. The main reason is that Harry reflected back to me all those things which I dislike about myself, in particular this insistence on living from the mind and not being able to break free and just have a good time for it’s own sake. The book seemed pedantic to me. Some notions of Buddhism, were repeated over and over again which made the book feel more like a school manual than a novel. In parts of the book, namely towards the end where he ends up in the Magic Theater—For Madmen Only! I just wanted Hesse to move on and couldn’t understand what point he was trying to make if not to just show how absurd life and humanity is. This did not come as a big surprise, to say the least.
I rated this book: ★★