For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Steppenwolf
  • Hermann Hesse
  • Translator: Thomas Wayne
Reviews Table of Contents Introduction «Back
Steppenwolf.
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Thomas Wayne presents a contemporary take on Hesse's classic story, so apt today, of the lone individual lost in the ironic good fortune and security of bourgeois banality and cultural conformity. Harry Haller has all the insight, all the leisure, all the material goods he needs, yet he is not at peace with his life. A potent combination of Eastern and Western insights into the human search for meaning is given new life in a fresh translation.

About the Author

The author, Hermann Hesse, a poet and novelist, is known for his stark explorations of the individual's spiritual search and the striving for a life of virtue, justice and understanding within the restrictions of society. Several of Hesse's novels are centered on the protagonist's journey into the inner self, with a spiritual guide assists the hero in his quest for self-knowledge and shows the way beyond the world "deluded by money, number and time." He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946.

Hesse was born in the German state of Württemberg. His father was born a Russian citizen in Weissenstein, Estonia; his mother spent her early years in Talatscheri, India. Both parents served as missionaries in India, and these diverse cultural currents infuse his writing with unusual flavor. 

Thomas Wayne is an English Professor at Edison State College in Fort Myers, Florida. He has published two translations of Nietzsche's classics with Algora Publishing, as well as Hermann Hesse's much-loved Steppenwolf, followed by Goethe's Faust. His approach in translating these iconoclastic German powerhouses is to return the juice the authors originally intended, with all their the verve and dynamic energy. He brings alive the best of German literature for today's readers.

About the Book

Thomas Wayne presents a fresh new translation of this classic that is a particular favorite of young adults confronting life’s deepest questions and equally liberating for readers facing a mid-life crisis. Basil Creighton’s 1929 version...

Thomas Wayne presents a fresh new translation of this classic that is a particular favorite of young adults confronting life’s deepest questions and equally liberating for readers facing a mid-life crisis. Basil Creighton’s 1929 version (revised in 1963 by Joseph Mileck) is the best-known version in English; it skips words, smoothes out long, involved passages, unnecessarily “improves” the text – all things Thomas Wayne refuses to do. As with his already published translations of Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra, Ecce Homo, and The Antichrist, he emphasizes a strict adherence and reverence for the literal – a Hesse for the 21st century, meaningful and faithful to the original.


Preface

Hermann Hesse’s work Steppenwolf was first published in German in 1927, but what it contains is still relevant today. Perhaps it is more important in our current cultural climate than ever...

Hermann Hesse’s work Steppenwolf was first published in German in 1927, but what it contains is still relevant today. Perhaps it is more important in our current cultural climate than ever before. It is the story of the lone individual, lost in the ironic good fortune and security of bourgeois banality and cultural conformity. The central character, Harry Haller, has all the insight, all the leisure, all the material goods he needs, yet he is not at peace with his life. His physical ailments are but symptoms of his true crisis, that of a lost soul, that of a life without meaning, that of a human without a love of humanity.

Haller, like many of us, is torn in two by his love of comfort and safety, on the one hand, and his deeper drive for a more authentically creative existence on the other. His tragic situation is born out of his inability to translate his blessings into love. Before his magical journey of discovery begins, he is nearly consumed by an almost suicidal paralysis in the face of that added dimension of existence which would bring it spiritual meaning.

Make no mistake, Steppenwolf is not a light read. Yet the escape it provides from the pabulum of today’s entertainment is a welcome reminder of that “something more” to be found in human experience. We do not all suffer from the same issues that Harry does, over-intellectualization and self-exile from society. But many of us feel a similar need to explore life’s depths in the midst of a culture that rarely sheds light upon the inner path. What Hesse offers us all is a potent combination of eastern and western insights into the human search for meaning.

Among the themes he successfully weaves together into a universal fabric are Nietzschean philosophy, depth psychology, and Buddhism. Over the course of his narrative, Hesse’s main character and alter-ego experiences his over-analyzed but poorly understood self through the lens of life’s great paradoxes. Thus, the storyline swirls through sensuality to find spirit, it dismantles the personality to promote a greater synthesis, and it bridges the divide between the temporal and eternal. For this reason, Steppenwolf is still the kind of literature which can enrich the individual experience by pointing us back toward that “added dimension.” Read it, and you are invited on journey of renewal, on a quest for meaning in an age in which such is increasingly hard to find.

It is our good fortune to have this new translation of the work from Dr. Thomas Wayne. As he shows in his work here, there must be a proper balance of faithfulness to both the style and substance of the original. Basil Creighton’s 1929 translation of Steppenwolf into English, and the 1963 revision based upon it, simply omit certain elements. In these earlier, bowdlerized versions, precision has been unduly sacrificed to readability. Dr. Wayne succeeds in giving the reader as much of Hesse’s actual language, in both its rhythm and its content, as a translation can allow. Now is the time to either discover or revisit this early twentieth-century classic.

— Dr. Russell H. Swanson

 


Categories

Pages 176
Year: 2010
LC Classification: PT2617.E85S7 2010
Dewey code: 833’.912—dc22
BISAC: FIC004000 FICTION / Classics
BISAC: FIC019000 FICTION / Literary
BISAC: PHI016000 PHI007000
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-783-0
Price: USD 22.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-784-7
Price: USD 32.95
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