Introduced by David Horrocks
Illustrated by Dan Hillier
In publishing Hermann Hesse for the first time, Folio presents an edition of Steppenwolf featuring images by Dan Hillier, and a very unusual facsimile, bound into the book itself.
Isolated from modern life and hiding from his past, Harry Haller is tormented by the sense that he is two beings in one body: the savage ‘wolf of the steppes’, and his intellectual human self. Unable to force his dual natures to coexist, suicide appears to offer his only path to peace. However, when he is given a pamphlet that seems intimately familiar with his innermost struggles, it prompts a life-affirming spiritual awakening – via a hallucinatory exploration of the physical self. A modernist masterpiece that found new popularity in the revolutionary 1960s, we have chosen to craft a suitably unusual edition of this remarkable work.
‘A profoundly memorable and affecting novel’
Celebrated for the fantastical human/animal hybrids that stalk through his works, artist Dan Hillier has provided the imagery and binding design for this, the only illustrated edition of Steppenwolf in print. As well as the compelling images capturing Harry’s dual nature and his urban isolation, Hillier also worked on a special insert, bound within the book. Crafted to recreate the iconic pamphlet that ultimately leads Harry on his hallucinatory journey, the insert features cover designs by Hillier, and is printed on a specially-chosen rough textured paper to set it apart from the rest of the book.
After Hermann Hesse’s troubled first marriage fell apart, he too moved away from his family, choosing to isolate himself, and Steppenwolf’s realistic and poignant depiction of despair is grounded in this experience. Adopted by the counter-culture movement in the 1960s in part due to its positive outlook on sex and drugs, Steppenwolf has become a key modernist text, continuing to find significance with those who feel themselves to be outsiders. Hesse himself felt that it was the most ‘violently misunderstood’ of his novels and in his postscript, included in this edition, he seeks to remind future readers that for all its strangeness, Harry’s journey is ultimately one of recovery.
Hermann Hesse was an author and poet born in Calw, Germany in 1877. He was urged by his parents to follow a religious career and was sent to a theological seminary in Maulbronn. Hesse himself was more drawn towards literature and as a youth focused on writing poetry. After completing his schooling, he found work in a clock-tower factory and a bookshop while trying to publish his poems and writing prose. His first collection of poems, Roman-tische Lieder, was published in 1899. Five years later his first novel, Peter Camenzind, was published to critical acclaim. During the First World War, Hesse moved to Switzerland where he edited a journal for German POWs as well as writing denunciations of militarism and nationalism – resulting in his works being later banned and destroyed by the Nazis. His novels Siddhartha (1922) and Steppenwolf (1927) ensured his global success and contributed to his being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1946. He died in 1962.
David Horrocks (1943–2011) was Lecturer in German at Keele University from 1967 until his early retirement in 2000. His research and teaching focused on literature of the First World War, German Modernism, West German post-1945 literature and recent writing by Turkish-German authors. He contributed articles on Hermann Hesse and Günter Grass to the Encyclopedia of Literary Translation in English (2000).
Dan Hillier is a London-based artist. His work has been shown in galleries as diverse as the Louvre in Paris, the Saatchi Gallery in London and Turin’s Natural History Museum. He has also collaborated with others, including Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London in 2016, UK band Royal Blood for their eponymous number-one-selling album in 2014, and providing the covers for Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors and Anansi Boys in 2008. He illustrated the Folio Society edition of H. P. Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu and Other Stories in 2017.
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Review by paulmoran on 10th May 2018
"This book has been produced to exceptionally high standards. The sewn signatures consist of only a few pages so allow the book to open flat, the cover is embossed in a manner that makes it wonderfully..." [read more]