The novel „Steppenwolf“ was one the most influencial books I ever read. Hermann Hesse combined both autobiographical and fantastical elements in this, for me, eye-opening novel. The main protagonist „Harry Haller“ is basically an alter ego of Hermann Hesse.
Harry Haller has an almost schizophrenic personality: He has an open, outoing folksy side to him, but, in deep contrast to this side of his personality, he also has a critical, lonesome „wolf-like“ side to him.
Those two sides influence each other in many ways and make Harry Haller torn inside, culminating in many depressive phases.
This „wolf-like“ side described in this novel is very similar to my own personality. „Der Steppenwolf“ was the first novel by Hermann Hesse that I read. After that I read a lot of his books and it is safe to say that Hermann Hesse is, and always will be, my favorite writer. Every novel he wrote has had a certain influence on my life.
„For what I always hated and detested and cursed above all things was this contentment, this healthiness and comfort, this carefully preserved optimism of the middle classes, this fat and prosperous brood of mediocrity.“
Hermann Hesse – „der Steppenwolf“
This is a quote from the book „Der Steppenwolf“ – it describes Harry Haller’s critique of everything that the mediocre, egocentric western society has to offer – the general useless information which is given to us, and only seeks to make us consume more and more.
The middle-class of western civilization created an egoistic society, where people only care about themselves and whatever happens now – and not about their future, or different cultures/countries.
This critique, at the time I read the novel, had opened my eyes. It made me think more about our society and the place that I want to/refuse to occupy in it. Furthermore, it is an autobiographic element of the book, which has made me admire Hermann Hesse even more.
Without taking anything away from the story: Harry Haller, with the help of other protagonists, makes an interesting progression: He finds out, that, through humour, he is able to deal with the modern western society, which he despises so much.
The novel ends in a very bizarre, obscure way, which again emphasizes Hermann Hesse’s outstanding writing talent.
Without any doubt, „Der Steppenwolf“ is not only a great piece of art, but also a must-read for Freethinkers.