Brookhiser on Steppenwolf

I got a kick out of this comment:

Now, Steppenwolf is my favorite Hesse novel. That is setting a very low bar, but I think it is actually a good novel. This may take some unpacking for younger Cornerites. There was a time — I was actually just too young — when every teenager read Hesse. The reason was not far to seek — he was a German-language teenager who wrote well, but never grew up. Such angst! Such passion! Such deep questions!
Such lack of humor or real insight.

Steppenwolf does have a bit of both, which it is why it is superior to its fellows. It ends with a drug dream, caused by the hero smoking hashish I think it was, offered him by a cool Latino bisexualish jazz musician. During his delirium, people shoot random strangers; he wants to shtup the heroine; he converses with Mozart, who tells him what is wrong with Brahms and Wagner (paging Terry Teachout). It is a wild, sixties kid farrago of wish fulfillment, nonsense, and some wisdom.

About the author

Kevin Holtsberry

I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season – oh, and watching golf too).

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