“A man of the Middle Ages would detest the whole mode of our present-day life as something far more than horrible, far more than barbarous. Every age, every culture, every custom and tradition has its own character, its own weakness and its own strength, its beauties and ugliness; accepts certain sufferings as matters of course, puts up patiently with certain evils. Human life is reduced to real suffering, to hell, only when two ages, two cultures and religions overlap. A man of the Classical Age who had to live in medieval times would suffocate miserably just as a savage does in the midst of our civilisation. Now there are times when a whole generation is caught in this way between two ages, two modes of life, with the consequence that it loses all power to understand itself and has no standard, no security, no simple acquiescence. Naturally, every one does not feel this equally strongly. A nature such as Nietzche’s had to suffer our present ills more than a generation in advance. What he had to go through alone and misunderstood, thousands suffer today.”

from pgs. 24-25.

Hesse, Hermann. Steppenwolf. Translated by Basil Creighton et al., Bantam Books, 1969.

Note: Within this excerpt we find the plight of John the Savage in Huxley’s Brave New World, published just five short years after Hesse’s Steppenwolf appeared in German and three years after the English translation.


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