Thursday, October 29, 2015

Steppenwolf - Herman Hesse

Readers, I can honestly see why this book became popular in the 1960s - I can imagine that it spoke to many people at that time of societal change and upheaval, which in its own way was much like the time period that produced this book (the 1920s). This book is frank and it's evident that the relatively new field of psychology influenced it quite a bit. It's also obviously a sharp critique of "bourgeois" values, which was again a popular thing to do again in the 60s. In some ways I am not sure what to make of it.

I suspect this book would be a very interesting text to read as part of a college-level class that studied the history of Germany from the time leading up to World War I and then the aftermath of that, culminating in World War II. To discuss the societal norms and how Hesse skewers many of them, as well as exploring the meaning of the last part of the book, which takes place in a theater unlike any other. That portion of the book alone would provide quite a bit of fodder for a lively discussion. I think if you are a fan of classic literature, this is a very readable book that also provides a lot of food for thought.

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