Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1946

I think Steppenwolf is a truly fascinating book. Amongst other things it is a portrait of the intellectual as an outsider. It is also a picture of the loneliness of ageing. There are very imaginative pieces of writing rather a forerunner of magical realism. The final passages achieve a kind of dramatic resolution. It is true to say that it is not a comfortable read. It is possible you will enjoy Siddartha more- thanks for posting.

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

Reviews From the Archive

An occasional series, cross-posting my reviews from Read the Nobels.

To see my progress with completing the Read the Nobels Challenge, see here.

Steppenwolf, by Herman Hesse, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1946

Translated by Basil Creighton, revised by Walter Sorrell, Penguin, 1965, 1979 reprint.

I am almost too embarrassed to share the excruciating naïveté of this review, but there it is at Blogspot for all to see anyway, and those who’ve read the book may enjoy an opportunity to chat about it set me straight.  To redress my sins, I’ve added excerpts from its citation in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die which, (obviously) I didn’t own when I wrote this review.  I apologise too, for the use of the term ‘schizophrenic’… these days I would use ‘bipolar disorder’.

30th November, 2006

Hesse says in his introduction that this is the…

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‘Grieshuus’ by Theodor Storm (GLM X)

The novella seems to be a German form which you see in Schnitzler and Hesse too.

Intermittencies of the Mind

Image from publisher’s website Grieshuus: The Chronicle of a Family was originally published in 1884 as Zur Chronik von Grieshuus. This translation, by Denis Jackson, who sadly died earlier this year, was published by Angel Classics in 2017. The events in Storm’s novella take place in a northen Schleswig town and covers four generations of an aristocratic Junker family, roughly covering the period of the mid-seventeenth century to the early eighteenth century.

The novella begins with the narrator recalling an incident in his youth when he went out walking on the heathland and discovered a few remains and foundation stones of what he was convinced was once Grieshuus manor; after discovering a book abou the manor the narrator had tried to find out more about the manor and its inhabitants. The first book mainly concerns the twin sons of the current Junker, Hinrich and Detlev. Although quite similar…

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Thoughts on “The Angels” by Rainer Maria Rilke

That reminds me so much of the famous Wim Wenders film “Wings of Desire”. Walter Benjamin too writes fascinatingly about the “Angel of History”.

Stuff Jeff Reads

Gustave Dore – artist

They all have weary mouths,
bright souls without a seam.
And a yearning (as for sin)
often haunts their dream.

They wander, each and each alike,
in God’s garden silently,
as many, many intervals
in his might and melody.

Only when they spread their wings
they awaken a great wind through the land:
as though with his broad sculptor-hands
God was turning
the leaves of the dark book of the Beginning.

(translation by C. F. MacIntyre)

I read this poem a couple times and struggled with it. There is a tension here that is tangible but not easy to identify. I did a little research online about Rilke’s ideas concerning angels, and he would go into deeper exploration of the topic in his Duino Elegies.

Throughout the Duino Elegies, Rilke explores themes of “the limitations and insufficiency of the human condition and fractured human…

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Kim by Rudyard Kipling, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1907

I had to study this book for O-levels donkey’s years ago. Without doubt it is imperialist through and through. However, I feel it was powerfully written and gave a magnificent insight to Indian cultures and the Great Game. I feel it was educative and in recent years I enjoy Kipling’s poetry.

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

Reviews From the Archive

An occasional series, cross-posting my reviews from Read the Nobels.

To see my progress with completing the Read the Nobels Challenge, see here.

Kim by Rudyard Kipling, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1907

1st November, 2003

I enjoyed this.  It’s one of those classic books I always meant to read, one that’s part of my British heritage which is known around the world because of Kipling’s influence on the scouting movement.

Kim is a boy enlisted by chance to work for the British Secret Service in India. He is orphaned by a sick mother and a feckless Irish father in service in India, and he lives in the streets.  One day he is captured by the British, who find his ID papers in a scapula around his neck – and they send him off to school.  A certain Commander recognises his potential as an…

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The Eloquent Silence of Leon Spilliaert

A couple of summers ago I read a very moving and interesting novel based on the lives of writers in exile in Ostend fleeing from the Nazis. This book which I started in German is called Ostende. 1936, Sommer der Freundschaft came out quite recently and is another example of a novel based on historical research which some critics call faction. It is written by the erudite and clever Volker Weidermann who has since written this equally brilliant book on the Munich Republic, Dreamers: When the Writers Took Power, Germany 1918 I recall from the opening chapter of Ostende,1936 an initial impression of Stefan Zweig looking seawards which I have retained almost as though it were a magical memory of my own visit. This together with the descriptions of the paintings and studio of James Ensor had engaged my interest in this town, which must have changed considerably since the 1930s. Having been sensitised in this manner, I was delighted to come across the lyrical, magical and perhaps a little ominous. Perhaps capturing the ambience of this latest lockdown in November.

Ontmoet kunstenaar Léon Spilliaert | museumPASSmusées

The Guardian has an excellent review of a recent exhibition at the R.A. earlier this year.

If your French is up to it -or your translation engine there is also this blog

Rentrée des Classes-U3a

Bent and bearded, distantly gathered

in plush deep armchairs we blinked.

Outside the hazy morning sunlight obscured the horizon.

Inside, we calculated the cost of the room

and for the fragile biscuits passed around.

Cafeterias at elbows we made a stab at

the Natural Rights of Man-the declared topic,

“But what about animals?” one lady wondered.


5 heads with 250 years of work experience,

pondered Nietzsche and eternal recurrence.

Social skills recollected at a forlorn separation.

“Sorry, I didn’t hear a word of that,

what shall we discuss next time?”

I wanted to add a line about antimacassars too – on the armchairs. I found from the Urban Dictionary, perhaps an unusual source for this that,”The name is derived from an Indian unguent for hair commonly used in the early 19th Century , macassar oil- the poet Byron called it, thine incomparable oil, Maccassar




The Sea, by John Banville, winner of the Booker Prize in 2005

Sounds like a wonderful read but also very, very sad. It has been on my shelves for some time now and deserves to be dusted off and read. Yes, indeed we are obsessed by class- in which our education system bears much responsibility!

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

Reviews From the Archive

An occasional series, cross-posting my reviews from The Complete Booker.
To see my progress with completing the Complete Booker Challenge, see here.

The Sea, by John Banville, won the Booker Prize in 2005

October 10th, 2005

The Sea is a brilliant book. I don’t think it can be matched for the quality of its poetic prose or the cleverness of its imagery both sharp and subtle. It arouses intense feelings of nostalgia, loss, impatience and relief – it’s really quite extraordinary.

Max Morden has lost his beloved wife Anna, and he isn’t coping well at all. He’s a middle-ranking art historian and he’s supposed to be writing a book about Bonnard (a French artist), but he’s not getting anywhere because he’s wallowing in grief and old memories and alcohol.

His memories revert to childhood. When he was a child he went on holiday to the…

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Edward Hopper -Eine Etüde

In these difficult times, Hopper’s work rather appropriately matches the Zeitgeist!

A Readmill of my mind

Edward Hopper - Solitude

Ich stelle mir vor, Edward Hopper lebte noch. Der große amerikanische Maler von Stilleben der Einsamkeit und der Verlassenheit. Inzwischen xy Jahre alt, im siebten Stock eines Mietshauses hausend, mit freiem Blick auf Ground Zero. Die Arthritis in den Händen quält ihn. Seine Kurzsichtigkeit erzeugt Grimm und Arbeitswut zugleich. Seine Schwerhörigkeit begrüßt er als Bollwerk gegen die lärmende Stadt. Seine Füße tragen ihn nur noch innerhalb der Radien seiner karg möblierten Wohnung. Maldrang, manisch, von kurzen Nickerchen unterbrochen. Die Nächte sind wie Tage und seine Imbisse die eines Singvögelchens. Eine Zugehfrau versorgt ihn mit dem Nötigsten. Brot und Wasser, Pinsel, Ölfarben, Leinwand, Terpentin, Tabletten gegen die depressiven Verstimmungen. Die Kunstgazetten wissen von seinem Entschluss, sich das Leben zu nehmen, sobald ihm die Malerei zur körperlichen Qual wird oder ihn wahlweise Ekel vor ihr überkommt. Zeit wird kritisch, der Kunstmarkt schließt Wetten ab über seinen Tod.


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Prévert-Les prodiges de la liberté

Les prodiges de la liberté

Entre les dents d’un piège
La patte d’un renard blanc
Et du sang sur la neige
Le sang du renard blanc
Et des traces du renard blanc
Qui s’enfuit sur trois pattes
Dans le soleil couchant
Avec entre les dents
Un lièvre encore vivant.

Jacques Prévert

Jacques Prévert (Author of Paroles)

The wonders of freedom

Between the teeth of a trap
The paw of a white fox
And blood on the snow
The blood of the white fox
And traces of the white fox
Who runs away on three legs
In the setting sun
With between the teeth
A hare still alive.

Jacques Prévert