Hesse, Hermann "Steppenwolf"

(German: Der Steppenwolf) - 1927

Reviewed by Marianne
from Let's Read




I like Hesse. However, I had a hard time getting through this one. Apparently, Hesse was going through a very tough time in his life. And it shows. It's not the writing that makes it hard, it's the content. Trying to follow this guy's life is hard and probably shouldn't be attempted if you are in a tough spot yourself.

 

Is it possible at all to understand someone in such a mental state if you are not in the same one (or have never been in it)? Or is it better to read it if you're not in that state? Because I can imagine that it won't improve exactly if you are feeling down yourself at the moment.

I enjoyed "Siddhartha" a lot better.

Book Description:

"Harry Haller is the Steppenwolf: wild, strange, shy and alienated from society. His despair and desire for death draw him into a dark, enchanted underworld. Through a series of shadowy encounters – romantic, freakish and savage by turn – the misanthropic Haller gradually begins to rediscover the lost dreams of his youth. This blistering portrayal of a man who feels himself to be half-human and half-wolf was the bible of the 1960s counterculture, capturing the mood of a disaffected generation, and remains a haunting story of estrangement and redemption."

Hermann Hesse received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964 "for his inspired writings which, while growing in boldness and penetration, exemplify the classical humanitarian ideals and high qualities of style".

Hermann Hesse received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (Friedenspreis) in 1955.


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Steinbeck, John "The Grapes of Wrath"

1940

Reviewed by Marianne
from Let's Read



 

I read this with my RL book club a couple of years ago. What a book! I love Steinbeck's way of writing, his descriptive painting of people, scenes, environment, situations. Fabulous.

Granted, it was sad. But I loved how the people helped each other out, how they shared the little they had if it was more than others had. I loved the descriptions of everything, be it the land, the people, actions, the situation. I also loved the little chapters in-between.

As a book club, we learned a lot from this book. 

Our society becomes a conglomerate, you have no recourse to solving your problem. Communities within communities are still created today. The poorest people are the most humane people. We go to great extremes to keep our children but for them it was life or death. There is so much about the story, intense poverty; start of unions, people's tricks to make money. You can feel the dust, hunger, fear, hope, and strength. As one member said: you could taste the grains of sand in your mouth. The book had tons of symbolism, really well developed. There were so many fundamental issues, power, capitalism, financial crisis. The irresponsible use of the land led to the dust bowl.

The author made his characters ugly, got you aware of social injustice, all these complaints about the unions now and further about how it came in the first place.

Effective, short introductory chapters, he introduced the scene and then got in depth. The benefit of that was we knew more than they did, a good literary device. Interesting perspective for the reader.

The main lesson: There is always hope, the strength of hope to carry people through.
And also: the story could have been written today.

I think I repeat myself but this is definitely a novel worth reading. I also really enjoyed "East of Eden" and his short story/novella "Of Mice and Men".


John Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception" and the Pulitzer Prize for "The Grapes of Wrath" in 1940.

We discussed this in our book club in March 2009.


Read my other reviews of the Nobel Prize winners for Literature.  

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Müller, Herta "The King Bows and Kills"

(German: Der König verneigt sich und tötet) - 2003

Reviewed by Marianne
from Let's Read


Herta Müller grew up in the German speaking part of Romania. Everything anyone in the German minority owned before World War II was confiscated, her grandfather had been a rich landowner and merchant, her father worked as a truck driver. When Herta Müller started writing about her life and the repressions imposed on the people in Romania, she became a case of the "Securitate", the secret police. She left for Germany in 1987 where she continued publishing further books which were not translated into Romanian and not available in Romania
.
This book is a collection of several essays and it draws a picture of a life in a dictatorship. It is probably the closest to an autobiography that the author has written.

From the back cover:

"Herta Müller is one of the greatest writers and most powerful narrators of contemporary German literature, and books such as 'Herztier' and 'Der Fuchs war damals schon der Jäger' have earned her international fame, too. With 'Der König verneigt sich und tötet', Herta Müller examines the political and historical conditions of her own art. Until she emigrated to Germany, her linguistic and political consciousness was formed in the Romanian dictatorship of Ceaucescu. Language is at the centre of all her reflections: language as a tool for exerting power and suppression but also as a means of resistance and self-assertion against totalitarianism.
Her reflections, however, also include memories of childhood and the family where German was spoken. An impressive, sharply contoured picture of a life under absolute control emerges - to which Herta Müller responded by choosing the freedoms of literature.
"

Herta Müller "who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed" received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2009.

Orhan Pamuk received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (Friedenspreis) in 2005.


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Morrison, Toni "Love"

2003

Reviewed by Marianne
from Let's Read



Different from her usual novels but just as exciting and interesting. Toni Morrison manages to describe so many different women, all in love with the same guy, Bill Cosey. A lot of different characters, a lot of different subjects: love, rivalry, charity, struggles. Every woman loves him in their own special, has her own special reason for her love, he is different with every woman again, a story about all the different faces of love.

I really like the author and her books.

From the back cover:

May, Christine, Heed, Junior, Vida -- even L: all women obsessed by Bill Cosey. More than the wealthy owner of the famous Cosey Hotel and Resort, he shapes their yearnings for father, husband, lover, guardian, friend, yearnings that dominate the lives of these women long after his death. Yet while he is both the void in, and the centre of, their stories, he himself is driven by secret forces -- a troubled past and a spellbinding woman named Celestial.

This audacious vision of the nature of love -- its appetite, its sublime possession, its dread -- is rich in characters and striking scenes, and in its profound understanding of how alive the past can be."

Toni Morrison "who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality" received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.

Read more about other books by the author here.   


Read my other reviews of the Nobel Prize winners for Literature.  

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