In the bourgeois circles of Europe after the Great War, can anything save the modern man? Harry Haller, a solitary intellectual, has all his life feared his dual nature of being human and ... See full summary »
In the bourgeois circles of Europe after the Great War, can anything save the modern man? Harry Haller, a solitary intellectual, has all his life feared his dual nature of being human and being a beast. He's decided to die on his 50th birthday, which is soon. He's rescued from his solipsism by the mysterious Hermine, who takes him dancing, introduces him to jazz and to the beautiful and whimsical Maria, and guides him into the hallucinations of the Magic Theater, which seem to take him into Hell. Can humor, sin, and derision lead to salvation? Written by
The day went by just as days go by. I killed it in accordance with my primitive and withdrawn way of life. I worked for an hour or two, had pains, took some opium and lay in a hot bath for two hours. Was glad when the pains consented to disappear. All in all it wasn't exactly a day of rapture. Perhaps the time is come to follow the example of Adalbert Stifter: a fatal accident while shaving...
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I read Hesse's "Journey To The East" and "Siddhartha" in my early twenties and thought they were excellent, but, when I then tried to read "Steppenwolf", it defeated me after a dozen or so pages. I put it to one side for a few weeks, then tried again, with the same result. The same thing happened for a third time.
Then I saw that the movie was showing at a local art-cinema, so thought I'd go and watch it. I allowed myself to suspend judgement until the end, and found it to be an unforgettable movie. OK - it has several flaws, as other reviewers have highlighted, but it certainly made a strong impression on me. I then went home and read the book from cover to cover. It's still not my favourite Hesse book (that honour goes to Siddhartha), but it is definitely a worthwhile read, and I probably would never have finished it if I hadn't seen the movie.
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