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Sarah's Library

I read pretty much anything, from fantasy (City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett) to romance (Bared to You by Sylvia Day) to classics (Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad).  The only genres I don't read are self-help and comic books/graphic novels.

Currently reading

The Last Honeytrap
Louise Lee
Progress: 100/346 pages
Complete Works of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare

From an author of the past to authors of the future (if only they'd listen)

Works of literature may be understood and misunderstood in many a different way.  In most cases the author of a work of literature is not the best-placed arbiter when it comes to deciding where the readers' understanding comes to an end and their misunderstanding begins.  Indeed many authors have found readers to whom their work was more transparent than it was to themselves.  Besides, it is of course possible for misunderstandings to be fruitful.


That said, of all my works Steppenwolf seems to me to be the one that has been more frequently and more drastically misunderstood than any other.  And of all the people it was often the affirmative, indeed the enthusiastic readers, and not those rejecting the book, whose comments took me aback.  In part, but only in part, the frequency of such cases can be explained by the fact that this book, written by a fifty-year-old man and dealing with the problems associated with that particular age, very often fell into the hands of quite young people.


Of course I cannot dictate to readers how they should understand my tale, and I have no desire to.  May everyone make of it whatever strikes a chord in them and suits their needs.


This was Herman Hesse's postscript, dated 1941, to the Penguin copy of Steppenwolf that I just gave up on (it almost makes me want to go back and give Steppenwolf another go, almost).  If only today's authors could have such a mature outlook on their work.