Steppenwolf

408 Words2 Pages
Steppenwolf Steppenwolf opens with a preface by a young businessman, who introduces a sheaf of notes left behind by a lodger in his attic rooms several years before. This young man, the landlady's nephew, describes the eccentric lodger, Harry Haller, who called himself a Steppenwolf, meaning in German a wolf of the steppes, or plains. The narrator finds this an odd but apt description of the shy, lonely wanderer who revealed little about himself but left a haunting memory. The preface recounts Harry's arrival and the narrator's several encounters with him- on the stairs, at a concert and an art lecture, and in a tavern. He has decided to publish Harry Haller's "records" although he can't say whether the experiences it relates were real or fictitious. Haller's "records," subtitled "For Madmen Only," begin with a walk in the dusk after a boring day. The walk takes Harry into an imaginary world by way of a flickering sign, an appearing and disappearing little door in a church wall, and a peddler with a placard advertising, "Magic Theater- Entrance Not For Everybody." The peddler hands Harry a pamphlet and vanishes. in his room again, Harry examines the pamphlet. It is called "Treatise on the Steppenwolf" and is a second portrait of Harry, a psychological one this time. It analyzes Harry as inwardly half man and half wolf, two selves in constant conflict. It describes Harry's struggle to be himself, which has resulted only in greater loneliness. It explains to Harry the role of the Steppenwolves- the artists and intellectuals- in middle-class society, and the geniuses who break free and become Immortals. It tells Harry that his wolf is an oversimplification, that he has not two but hundreds of selves. Some day he may see himself in one of the Immortals' magic mirrors, or find in one of their magic theaters what he needs to free his soul. Finally the anonymous authors bid Harry good-bye and cheer him on his path toward becoming an Immortal.
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