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Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse

Readers Recommend

Posted 12.31.11

“My reading list for this year consisted mostly of the classics—those already on my shelf, the work of authors I haven’t read yet, but should have by age thirty-four. I ended up reading one after another because shifting away from all that existentialism to contemporary work was too jarring. Most of them are worth a reread—if you’re that type of reader—but Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf (Holt, 1929) is the one I find myself referencing in conversation and recommending most often. In a time when it seems all in the world are suddenly and collectively questioning their place in it, asking why we live the way we do, following Harry Haller, the Steppenwolf—“that beast astray who finds neither home nor joy nor nourishment in a world that is strange and incomprehensible to him”—on his search for the luring Gothic doorway with its enticing message, “Entrance Not for Everybody. For Madmen Only,” that begins his journey and finally gaining entrance to Pablo’s magic theater, offers the reader a surprisingly timely meditation on what it means to be aware and awake in this mad world, while forcing the question, ‘How do I want to proceed?’”

—Suzanne Pettypiece, managing editor of Poets & Writers Magazine, from New York, New York

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