Steppenwolf – Fantastic Work of Psyché

22 Oct

Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse

By far, this would be one of the best works I’ve read this year.  Where have I been ?  Indeed, I went as far as stating in Twitter that “my life reads like a bastard child of Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo and Hesse’s Steppenwolf”.  In the word of a good online friend of mine, this one definitely is a “mindfuck”.

The book deals with the most profound issue of mankind : the self.  It painstakingly describes the state where the self is torn by conflicting desire between its higher order and lower desires of the proverbial Steppenwolf ( Wolf of the steppes or a coyote ).  Definitely Freudian in its basic idea, Hesse elaborated this further by bringing forth the idea that a soul comprises of several other “selves” than just the ordinarily-known ego, superego and id.  Thus, a self is a kaleidoscope of different beings which in the case of Harry Haller ( the main character ), completely torn him asunder and trying in futility to “get a grip”.

It also employed a surreal fantastic story-telling method, especially in later parts when Harry underwent a painful experience in Theatre of Dreams.  We never know for certain whether Harry actually kill Hermine, for instance; hence the term “surreal” for its merging of fantasy and reality.  The good news is, it works.  Which is more than can be said of a writer who attempted this method at all.  Only great ones succeed, reminiscent of John Fowles’ “The Magus”.

I tell you one thing : if you plan only to read one book this year, this is the book that I will recommend.

More info of Steppenwolf in wikipedia ( link )

For those who don’t know it yet, Steppenwolf and other great works of all time can be downloaded from a free, fantastic library here.


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