free booknotes online

Help / FAQ


printable study guide online download notes summary


<- Previous Page | First Page | Next Page ->

Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | MonkeyNotes

TREATISE ON THE STEPPENWOLF

NOTE:

The Treatise is set apart from the rest of the novel by its style of writing and also, in most editions, by its type and page layout. In the original German edition it was printed on different paper and in the oldfashioned, elaborate German typeface called Gothic. It was further set apart by colored pages at its beginning and end, and looked like a pamphlet bound into the novel.

The Treatise begins like a fairy tale with "There was once a man, Harry," and goes on rather playfully with a discussion of Harry's idea of himself as a wolf. It points out that this is not exceptional, that many individuals live comfortably with some animal traits in their make-up. Harry's human self, however, was at war with his wolfish self. When Harry was noble and refined, the wolf snarled in scorn, judging all human activities to be absurd, stupid, and vain. But when Harry behaved as a wolf, baring his teeth and hating human beings for their lying and degenerate ways, the human Harry called him brute and spoiled his pleasure in the healthy expression of his animal nature.

So Harry was unhappy. Here the Treatise throws out some commonplace comments: that everyone feels his own unhappiness as the greatest that anyone endures, that even the unhappiest life has its sunny moments, "little flowers of happiness between sand and stone." But Harry was unhappy and made others unhappy, especially those who loved him. Most often they loved only one side of him and were disappointed when the refined and interesting man showed his fierce wolfish side, or when the wild, exciting wolf turned out to love Mozart and poetry, and to believe in human goodness. (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the eighteenth-century composer and musical genius, is one of Harry's chief Immortals.) Usually those who loved the wolf were the more bitterly disappointed. Yet even Harry had his moments when both sides came together in harmony.


There are others like Harry, mostly artists, who do not have the orderly form of a career but are tossed on a perpetual tide of pain. But they have their moments of beauty when they produce works of art that give them and the world the greatest happiness. Such people sometimes feel that human life is a bad joke and a natural catastrophe, and at other times that man is a child of the gods and destined for immortality.

A PROFILE OF HARRY

The Treatise then gives a synopsis of Harry's personal history. He was a night person, with a need for solitude and independence for which he would sacrifice everything. He rejected all routine, would not work in an office or take orders from anyone. In the end he won too much of both freedom and solitude. Although he had friends, he had no real ties. He became one of the "suicides," people who might never actually take their own lives but who live like persons doomed to end that way. Although emotional and sensitive, they are often sturdy people-but at the least shock they think of suicide. In some, including Harry, the notion of suicide makes everything bearable because an emergency exit is always open. Harry had appointed his fiftieth birthday as the day on which he would take his razor and end all his pains.

Though the Steppenwolf saw himself as an outsider and looked down on ordinary men, he still lived like one. He had money in the bank, dressed correctly, and resided in respectable bourgeois houses. He never joined the criminal classes, and although he admired political criminals and revolutionaries he was never one of them.

THE MIDDLE CLASS

The middle class is the Treatise's next subject. The bourgeois man carefully walks a middle path, avoiding extremes of joy or pain, saintliness or viciousness. He has sacrificed intensity of experience for comfort and security. The Treatise describes the democratic forms of majority rule, the rule of law, and the vote as middle-class devices. The middle class would be overcome by its own weakness and anxiety, were it not for the Steppenwolves, the artists and intellectuals living on its fringes and providing the vitality of art and ideas.

Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | MonkeyNotes


<- Previous Page | First Page | Next Page ->
Google
Web
PinkMonkey

Google
  Web PinkMonkey.com   
Google
  Web Search Our Message Boards   

All Contents Copyright © PinkMonkey.com
All rights reserved. Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.


About Us
 | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page
This page was last updated: 5/9/2017 8:52:03 AM