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7/7/14

Rachel's Random Recommendation #39: Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-neCSONCK_vg/Tl_gMM71z2I/AAAAAAAABJs/A8POd6muewc/s1600/steppenwolf%2B-%2Bhermann%2Bhesse.jpgSteppenwolf (1927) by Herman Hesse

You know those books that, even years after you've read them, you mostly forget what they're about but you remember how they made you feel? Yeah, that's my experience with Steppenwolf.

I remember reading this (my second) Hesse novel as a teenager, depressed that college and independence were still so far away (another year of high school!) and looking to books for solace. Having read Siddhartha a couple of times, I knew that Hesse would make me forget about the world and revel in language- thus, Steppenwolf.

Here, Hesse plays around with the reader's expectations and imagination, offering a story-within-a-story and creating worlds-within-worlds. The protagonist is caught between the reality that he despises and the fantastical world that he fears, and the people he meets along the way guide him through a complicated labyrinth determined by these two poles. The title refers to the duality of human nature, which strives to become more "civilized" while remaining chained to its animal instincts.

I want to reread Steppenwolf, and check out Hesse's many other novels, so if I add all of that to my TBR list, I'll now need to live for 900 years.

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