Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Fair Thought About Consumption in Steppenwolf

Sometimes a writer nails an idea so well you just have to share it with somebody. In Saul Bellow's Herzog I highlighted just such a paragraph that seemed to encapsulate the entire thrumming pulse of that novel.

Such is the following example from Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf:
It is remarkable, all that men can swallow. For a good ten minutes I read a newspaper. I allowed the spirit of an irresponsible man who chews and munches another's words in his mouth, and gives them out again undigested, to enter into me through my eyes. I absorbed a whole column of it. And then I devoured a large piece cut from the liver of a slaughtered calf (34).
The varied shades of consumption reflect back until they spin around each other, each granting more meaning to the other.

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