Mishelle Sherri

The Werewolf Cliché and Other Difficulties Artists May Encounter

January 2023
Mishelle Sherri


The Werewolf Cliché and Other Difficulties Artists May Encounter

January 2023
First published in 1927, Steppenwolf appears to be one of the most widely read and yet misinterpreted novels by Hermann Hesse. At the peak of its popularity, in the 1960s, books with a wolf on the cover began to fill store shelves. Nowadays, the vast majority of Steppenwolf book covers feature a wolf, which trivialises Hesse’s idea and reduces Harry Haller’s multifaceted personality to the platitudinous "two souls in one body." I call this phenomenon the "werewolf cliché."
There are several focal points within the novel, and Haller’s erroneous belief that his nature is dual does not seem like the major topic. Hesse's exposure to Jungian analytical theory, German Romanticism, Indian and Chinese philosophy, as well as Western thinkers like Plato, Nietzsche, and Spinoza, had an impact on Steppenwolf. There is also quite a high probability that the entire narrative of this novel is woven with alchemical symbolism. Like many of Hesse's other works, Steppenwolf describes one man's journey to self-knowledge and is largely autobiographical. The author uses a complex language of symbols and allusions to explore the division within the self and society; in addition, the majority of the characters in this story are symbols rather than portrayals of real people. The misunderstanding occurs when the reader fails to see beyond the literal meaning of these symbols; this also applies to illustrators who get commissioned to design a cover. Most of the creatives who have illustrated Steppenwolf seem to have interpreted the wolf-versus-man metaphor not as something figurative and conditional but as a reflection of Haller’s reality. Or perhaps, I dare say, some of them used the werewolf cliché as a cop-out because they either have not read the novel or did not have time to come up with a unique and meaningful design. In Haller’s case, the conflict between two selves—the man and the wolf—represents an encounter with the unconscious, that side of human nature that has been denied and suppressed for thousands of years (Breslin, 2018). Steppenwolf is not and has never been a book about a man whose personality is split into two; by creating a character who assumes that he is a werewolf of some sort, Hesse is attempting to say that we humans are not black-and-white beings but carry an abyss within us that must be acknowledged, faced, and embraced. The mysterious author of the Treatise on the Steppenwolf states that the protagonist is far more than just a half-man and half-wolf; rather, Haller has an infinite number of selves he is yet to explore, “For there is not a single human being, <...> not even the idiot, who is so conveniently simple that his being can be explained as the sum of two or three principal elements; and to explain so complex a man as Harry by the artless division into wolf and man is a hopelessly childless attempt. Harry consists of a hundred or a thousand selves, not of two. His life oscillates, as everyone’s does, not merely between two poles, such as the body and the spirit, the saint and the sinner, but between thousands, between innumerable poles” (58). This is further confirmation that the covers with wolves are misleading, at least potentially. I am of the view that the protagonist should be portrayed as a complex, multi-layered object like an onion bulb or a flower and not as some kind of werewolf. Even a banal portrait would be a better option: unlike the thoughtless visualisation of Haller's misconceptions regarding his personality, it would at least convey emotion. Furthermore, the novel’s title already contains the word "wolf," which implies that any additional mention of the animal—including pictures of the wolf—can turn the cover into one big tautology.
The aim of this paper is to find out what communicates Hesse’s ideas better than images of werewolves. Although the number of illustrations for specific chapters is too small to discern a pattern, my research focuses on both the cover design and the pictures inside the book.

What Is Wrong with the Wolf?
To understand why the cover of Steppenwolf should be a wolf-free zone, it is important to know why Haller believes that he is part wolf and not, say, part lion. The reason as to why Hesse chose this bizarre wolf-versus-human metaphor is not absolutely clear, but it is logical to assume that his choice was influenced by either cultural associations or Nietzsche’s writings; still, there is a possibility that there were other factors affecting that decision. In the proverbs and sayings of various peoples around the world, the wolf is related to malice, aggressiveness, poverty, greediness, hunger, and inferiority (Piirainen and Dobrovol'skij, 2021). Speaking of Germanic mythology in particular, the wolf appears to represent cruelty and voracity. It also serves as a symbol of power and strength: along with ravens and eagles, wolves are the "beasts of battle" (Harrisson, 2020). Haller’s wolf self is indeed feral and bloodthirsty, but it also appears to be strong-willed and freedom-loving. As follows from the treatise (61), it does not only represent Haller's negative qualities and repressed desires; the wolf, too, has his abysses and suffers. This suggests that there could be another level of meaning. In German literature, Hesse stands apart from his realist contemporaries. One can hardly call him an artist of the Zeitgeist because he dedicated his work solely to the exploration of the internal. In Steppenwolf, the writer clearly addresses such issues as the growth of German nationalism, the possibility of a new war, and the hypocrisy of bourgeois society; all of this, however, is described in the context of Haller's inner world. This fact, by the way, could be an excellent argument for putting Haller’s portrait on the cover of the book.

The urge to seek one's own identity is the predominant theme in the vast majority of Hesse's novels; to Hesse, individuation represents the pinnacle of human endeavour. In the writer's view, however, one cannot reach a higher level of consciousness and become complete without enduring privations. In his novels, personal catastrophes and childhood traumas often serve as catalysts for one's growth; none of Hesse's protagonists ever had a fun, carefree life. On closer inspection, this feature appears to be a result of his interest in psychoanalysis and Nietzsche’s ideas. It is no secret that the famous philosopher left a mark on Hesse’s work. Just like Nietzsche, Hesse believes that pain and suffering are essential prerequisites for reaching one's potential (Filova, 2021). Both Nietzsche and Hesse endow suffering with a special meaning, sanctify it even. In Zarathustra's return, Hesse writes, “The ability to suffer well is more than half of life—indeed, it is all life. Birth is suffering, growth is suffering, the seed suffers the earth, the root suffers the rain, the bud suffers its flowering” (1919: 96). This statement sounds suspiciously like a softened version of the famous quote from The Will to Power, “To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities—I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not—that one endures” (1901: 481). While not being as radical as Nietzsche, Hesse seems to perceive life as a marathon of self-overcoming. Another thing on which they both seem to agree is the symbolic meaning of the wolf. To Nietzsche, it is a rebel of some sort, a wild creature prowling deep in the forest, away from the ostentatious brilliance of human society. In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, he compares mavericks to wolves, “But the free spirit, the enemy of fetters, the non-adorer who dwells in the woods, is as hateful to the people as a wolf to dogs. To hound him out of his lair—that is what the people have ever called ‘a sense of decency’; and against him the people still set their fiercest dogs” (1883: 102-103). Haller’s wolf-nature, in turn, is Nietzsche's idea brought to life (Reichert, 1975). Yet Harry Haller is a lot more than this; the wolf is just one of his multiple selves, and that is why it does not make sense to depict it on the cover. Of course, one could also try to capture all parts of his personality in one picture, but it would be quite a challenge because Hesse did not provide us with a clear description.

Fig 1. Göransson, Steppenwolf (1982)
Fig 2. Yee, Steppenwolf (2002)
This cover art (Fig. 1), created by Gunnar Göransson, is a prime example of what I call the "werewolf cliché"—a misleading portrayal of Haller’s inner conflict that reduces it to a battle between a highly spiritual man and a pleasure-seeking savage. One can find a large number of similar illustrations by doing a Google search for "Steppenwolf." Another interesting example of this phenomenon is the cover by Henry Sene Yee (Fig. 2). Although it presumably depicts a wolf pelt, it does not seem as insipid as the majority of other Steppenwolf book covers. It leaves something to the imagination. This cover design has a thought-provoking quality: one cannot say which part of the animal's body it is, what surrounds the wolf, or whether the wolf is alive at all. Actually, this furry texture could be anything, even a fur coat worn by Kaiser Wilhelm II, a person admired by the young professor from the third chapter and hated by Haller. In this regard, this bold design solution could hypothetically represent the complexity of Hesse's novel; it lacks clarity, though. Even if one takes a thorough look at this cover, it is hardly possible to tell what the novel is about. In other words, roughly speaking, the photo of a wolf pelt has so little to do with the story of Steppenwolf that it could also be used as the cover illustration for Jack London's White Fang (1906).
It is worth noting that the first edition of Steppenwolf, published by S. Fisher in 1927, has no cover art at all. The front board only contains the initials "hh" in gilt (Fig. 3). On the dust jacket (Fig. 4), however, there is a short annotation ascribed to the poet Oskar Loerke. What this annotation says is quite unexpected because, at first glance, it contradicts Hesse's concept of personality (58).

Fig 3. AbeBooks, Steppenwolf. Seller Picture 2 (no date)
Fig 4. AbeBooks, Steppenwolf. Seller Picture 3 (no date)
It describes the protagonist as someone who possesses two natures, “Harry Haller, der Held, beherbergt in einem Blut und in einer Seele zwei Naturen.” Then it goes on to say that this dichotomy is not merely Haller's problem but a diagnosis of the soul of modern man, “Woran Haller leidet, das ist im Grunde der Kampf von Schein und Sein im geistigen Bestand Europas.” From this point onward, things start making sense: in chapter two, Harry learns from the treatise that the way he perceived himself and other people was totally wrong. The treatise also criticises the Western perspective of the self, arguing that the self is not a separate, individual entity but something more complicated and even illusory, “The Steppenwolf, too, believes that he bears two souls (wolf and man) in his breast and even so finds his breast disagreeably cramped because of them. The breast and the body are indeed one, but the souls that dwell in it are not two, nor five, but countless in number. Man is an onion made up of a hundred integuments, a texture made up of many threads. The ancient Asiatics knew this well enough, and in the Buddhist Yoga an exact technique was devised for unmasking the illusion of the personality. The human merry-go-round sees many changes: the illusion that cost India the efforts of thousands of years to unmask is the same illusion that the West has laboured just as hard to maintain and strengthen” (59). So according to the treatise, Haller invented the Steppenwolf because he thinks in extremes and does not have a sense of belonging; this is not clear from the annotation, though. This piece of text can easily be understood by those who are familiar with the novel, yet it may be perplexing to a new reader.

Onion, Mirror, Araucaria, and Other Symbols
There is a perception that Hesse’s fictions of the self, primarily Demian (1919), Siddhartha (1922), and Steppenwolf, are related to psychoanalysis; some scholars (Danylova, 2015; Maier, 1975; Richards, 1996; Schwarz, 1983) suggest that knowledge of Jungian analytical theory is an unavoidable prerequisite for understanding Steppenwolf. In the period from 1916 to 1921, Hermann Hesse did, in fact, have several therapy sessions with Carl G. Jung and Joseph B. Lang, Jung's disciple, and benefited from the treatment as a creative. Starting from 1916, more references to psychoanalysis began to appear in the writer’s works (Mileck, 1978). His interest in psychology, however, dates back to 1913–1914, when he first became familiar with Freud’s and Adler’s ideas (Mileck, 1978). When reading Demian, Steppenwolf, and some other works, one can notice that the protagonists’ paths towards psychological wholeness appear to replicate Jung’s description of the individuation journey. Upon closer examination, however, it is evident that the stories of Emil Sinclair and Harry Haller do not share the same individuation pattern, but more on that later.
One of the main purposes of illustration is to clarify text or at least offer a visual accompaniment to it; for this very reason, it makes sense to allude to Jungian analysis while illustrating this novel. References to Jung’s work may make Steppenwolf a little clearer to those who are already familiar with the psychiatrist’s legacy. Given the worldwide fame of Carl Jung and his writings, the probability that a potential reader is acquainted with them is fairly high. Hesse’s literary compositions, in turn, are less popular, and Jung’s view of the individuation process may serve as a guide to reading Steppenwolf. References to Jung’s work do not necessarily have to be straightforward; for example, depicting Haller as the four major archetypes–the Self, the persona, the shadow and the anima or animus–would barely contribute anything to understanding the novel, not to mention the fact that it would display the illustrator’s near-complete ignorance about Jungian theory. Drawing him as an onion bulb, on the other hand, would be a smarter option because it would both represent Jung's concept of Individuation and evoke specific associations. For example, even if the potential reader has never heard of either Visions (1976) or how passionate the renowned doctor was about symbols, they are likely to conclude that the onion represents something complex and multifaceted, as it itself consists of many skins. Or at the very least, they might think of Steppenwolf as a tearjerker because slicing onions often makes one cry. Unlike the werewolf cliché, a picture of an onion bulb is much more than a naive visualisation of the book’s title and has more informative potential. This quote backs up the above-mentioned statements, “One cannot individuate as long as one is playing a role to oneself; the convictions one has about oneself are the most subtle form of persona and the most subtle obstacle against any true individuation. <...> It is a most painful procedure to tear off those veils, but each step forward in psychological development means just that, the tearing off of a new veil. We are like onions with many skins, and we have to peel ourselves again and again in order to get at the real core” (Jung, 1998: 821).

It is of utmost importance to provide potential readers with clues because the cover of a book is not only the first thing they see, but it can also create a lasting impression. Consumers do judge books by their covers; the features most valued in a book in the decision-making process are "Title," "Synopsis," "Subject covered in book," "Recommendation of family and friends," "Books with discount or on sale," and, of course, cover design (Leitão et al., 2018: 1). Oftentimes, the first impression left by the cover determines whether a book is picked up at all; it can even shape an individual's perception of the entire work, especially if they have never heard of its existence before. This happens because of the primacy effect, a psychological phenomenon whereby people tend to recall information presented at the beginning more easily (Sam, 2013). What is more, the primacy effect can be reinforced by the anchoring bias, which has an additional impact on one's decision-making ability. The anchoring bias occurs when an individual bases their decisions and judgements on the first piece of information they receive on a topic (Nikolopoulou, 2022). The combination of these cognitive biases can result in an individual ignoring any subsequent information; in other words, theoretically, cover illustrations featuring a wolf increase the likelihood that someone will continue to perceive Steppenwolf as the story of a man whose nature is dual, even after reading the book. This further confirms that covers with wolves are not only pointless but also quite harmful to Hesse’s potential readers. A series of symbols related to the novel, on the other hand, would perhaps be a better option. As an illustrator, I believe that the reader should be presented with as much visual information as possible so that they recognise something familiar and rely on that piece of information when forming their initial opinion about the book. This is how it is supposed to work: Learning gets easier when an individual links new concepts to what they already know. Professor David R. Shanks, who researches human learning and memory, argues (1995) that the learning process relies heavily on associations; this implies that there is hardly any significant aspect of one's life that is not influenced by what one has learned in the past. According to the theory of associative learning, ideas and experiences can be mutually reinforced. Essentially, this means that the brain is not designed to recall information in isolation; rather, it builds associative memories by linking elements together and creating a web of different connections (Associative Learning: Definition, Theory & Examples, 2015). As a result, the acquisition of new knowledge without associating things together can hardly be called anything other than an exercise in futility. For instance, in 2015, Nigel Richards from New Zealand memorised the entire French dictionary and won the French Scrabble championship. He was unable to speak French, though, because he had learned the words without any context. In view of this, it is extremely important to give clues to the reader so that their first impression of the book's cover has at least something in common with its content. For example, if the reader is interested in alchemy, they might construe the combination of white, black, yellow, and red as an allusion to the Great Work; they might also conclude that Steppenwolf is a story of self-discovery, which indeed it is. Or if they see a chessboard, they might think that the novel describes some kind of game or simply contains a crucial scene in which someone plays chess—that would be a correct assumption as well. The problem with this method is that it cannot guarantee absolute success, as one and the same thing can evoke a variety of associations in representatives of different cultures. Since symbols are a human invention and do not occur in nature, their meanings must either be taught or explained by associations; associations, in turn, are often culturally conditioned (Douglas, 1973). For example, Turkish festive bouquets (Fig. 5) strongly resemble the funeral wreaths (Fig. 6) that can be seen in any Ukrainian, Belarusian, or Russian cemetery. Due to this, many Eastern Slavs feel uneasy when they notice such bouquets at Turkish celebratory events.

Fig 5. Alsup, Turkish Wedding Flowers (2009)
Fig 6. Ritual, Wreaths on a Grave (no date)
On the other hand, theoretically, any object is no more misleading than the image of a wolf if put on the cover of Steppenwolf. Wolf images do seem to be the safest option only because they have been used for decades; yet the wolf as a symbol leaves much room for interpretation, even too much. This animal is a common motif in the mythologies of many peoples, which makes it less likely that the consumer will interpret it unambiguously. Even if simple symbols like the wolf do emerge from archetypes shared by all humanity and are part of our collective unconscious, as Jung believes (1947), they cannot be interpreted in a single way. Once again, the wolf is a simple symbol—an animal, a single object, and not a complex entity composed of several elements, such as, say, the Spanish coat of arms (Fig. 7).
Fig 7. Coat of Arms of Spain (1981)
Fig 7. Coat of Arms of Spain (1981)
I reckon that the simplest symbols offer more potential meanings than the complex ones. To illustrate this point, let us talk about geometric shapes: Geometric shapes are the most basic symbols that still carry meaning, or more accurately, multiple meanings. Humans tend to experience certain emotions when looking at them; even when the contextual information is absent, the emotional value of this geometry is still there. It is quite likely that these primitive signals have been refined over the course of evolution to allow effective identification of stimuli that have a direct impact on our well-being. The simplest example of this phenomenon would be that people normally interpret angular shapes as threatening and curved ones as pleasant (Larson et al., 2012). Even though shapes "convey" emotions, it is virtually impossible to get a large group of people to agree on what this or that shape particularly signifies—there will always be multiple interpretations. While people can recognise the emotional connotations of shapes, colours, sounds, textures, and many other things, it is still impossible to say exactly what concepts they would represent if they were deliberately used as symbols. For instance, the circle can stand for totality, unity, wholeness, the Self, eternity, perfection, all cyclical movements, and numerous other things (Tresidder, 2011). The coat of arms of Spain, in contrast, has quite a precise meaning, as it consists of specific heraldic symbols and the arms of the mediaeval kingdoms that formed that country. Given this, it makes sense to limit the number of possible meanings and associations by depicting something that has a stronger connection to the novel and leaves less room for interpretation—something more complex, like a series of symbols and not just one.
There are actually plenty of symbols inside the book that can be used instead of the wolf. The first and most obvious one is the mirror—after all, the narrative revolves around the topic of self-exploration. Haller’s eclectic experience in the Magic Theatre resembles a walk through a maze of fun-house mirrors: the protagonist gets to know himself better with the help of the grotesque imagery generated by the unconscious. The mysterious treatise is also a looking glass of sorts, as it reveals to Harry what he did not know about his own nature and talks directly to him. Hermine, too, plays the role of a mirror (Artiss, 1971); she helps Haller to develop the capacity for immediate experiences and articulate his feelings. It is also possible that Hermine is one of Haller's numerous selves. If this is true, then the hero’s attempt to kill her out of jealousy is the result of him succumbing to the temptation of falling in love with himself (Webb, 1971). Given this, it is reasonable to depict Hermine as having a hand-held mirror in place of the head in an illustration for the fifth chapter; throughout that chapter, it becomes evident that Harry and Hermine have much in common. Considering the nature of the book, there should be more than one illustration with mirrors. For example, in this illustration for chapter two (Fig. 8), the monochromatic Harry looks in the mirror and sees a multi-colored reflection of himself; the mirror is the treatise stating that Haller is much more than part man, part wolf. Speaking of the cover, theoretically, it makes sense to emboss some of the small details, if there are any, using silver foil so they look like mirror shards. The onion bulb is another very important symbol. As mentioned above, both Jung (821) and Hesse (59) compared man to an onion, which cannot be a coincidence. This analogy is relatively easy to understand, as the bulb, like one’s self, has many layers. However, it is worth mentioning that a realistic picture of an onion will most likely confuse the reader. One should either incorporate the onion into a more complex composition or anthropomorphise it so that the reader can relate to it. Something similar to the imaginative food portraits by Guiseppe Arcimboldo would be a viable alternative (Fig. 9).
Fig 8. Sherri, Steppenwolf. Chapter 2 (2022)
Fig 9. Arcimboldo, Rudolf II of Habsburg as Vertumnus, 1590
Yet another symbol is the araucaria. Although Haller's associations with this plant are rather contradictory, they all relate to the bourgeoisie. To the protagonist, the araucaria represents a measured life, stability, hypocrisy, and narrow-mindedness. One of Haller's most painful problems is that he has a passionate hatred of the middle class, yet he still enjoys the privileges of the bourgeoisie. Even though he is quite a deep person, he would hardly give up all the comforts of life for the sake of spiritual growth. Considering this, a picture of the araucaria and Haller growing together into a single creature would be quite an accurate illustration for the third chapter (Fig. 10). Or rather, such a picture would visualise the hero’s inner conflict. In spring 2022, I conducted an interview with Liubov Bykova, a Germanist who specialises in Hermann Hesse and is currently researching the influence of Indian and Chinese philosophies on his work. She suggested that the yin-yang symbol, or perhaps a slightly stylised version of it, would be a better alternative to the werewolf cliché; to illustrate her point, she showed me this picture (Fig. 11). Although such a solution may seem overly simplistic in terms of graphic design, it possesses great informative potential. Essentially, the yin-yang symbol can be used as a visual representation of the psyche striving to maintain a balance between opposing qualities while seeking individuation. At the same time, yin and yang leave almost as much room for interpretation as the circle. Apart from this, Bykova suggested depicting a mirror maze on the cover, which is also relevant to the story of Harry the Steppenwolf.

Fig 10. Sherri, Steppenwolf. Chapter 3 (2022)
Fig 11. Paul, Earth / Space Yin Yang, 2018
The Colour of Steppenwolf, or Alchemical Symbolism
in Hesse’s Work
Hesse's fascination with the past was one of many manifestations of Romanticism's influence on him. His fondness for mediaeval Latin literature, the Italian novella, and hagiography quickly sparked an interest in the Middle Ages (Mileck, 1983). It is a well-known fact that Hermann Hesse was an ardent admirer of Novalis and saw in him the embodiment of pure romanticism (Mileck, 1983); Novalis, for his part, was familiar with alchemy and its conceptual frameworks. This suggests that Hesse, at the very least, knew some basic information about alchemy. The point there is that Haller’s spiritual journey differs, albeit not drastically, from what Jung called "individuation." For instance, Hermine fits the role of the anima in Harry’s development; she tells him that she will make him fall in love with her, but from Jung’s perspective, one does not need to fall in love with one’s anima (Webb, 1971). Still, it is clear enough which archetype Hermine represents; Pablo's role, however, is quite an enigma. Pablo is a mysterious multifaceted character, and his function in the novel has always been a matter of dispute among scholars. He is often regarded as a hybrid archetype, borrowing some qualities from the wise old man, the shadow, and the animus. Some academics, however, describe Pablo as something more definite; for instance, David Artiss (1971: 91) sees him as a guru-figure, whereas Egon Schwarz (1983: 139) and Eugene Stelzig (1988: 216) define him as the shadow archetype. Heidi Rockwood (1994: 54), in turn, suggests that Pablo might be the Mercurius of the alchemical opus, the catalyst. She claims that Harry’s experience in the magic theatre resembles the alchemical process, and there were many ways Hesse could have been familiar with alchemy by the time he wrote Steppenwolf; the scholar does not hereby exclude the probability of Hesse developing his own view of the individuation process. Rockwood compares the inward journey of Emil Sinclair to Haller’s path towards psychological wholeness; she argues that Steppenwolf, unlike Demian, doesn’t follow the standard Jungian individuation pattern (48). Indeed, Pablo does not fit in. He is obviously not the animus archetype because Harry is a male; he is not the shadow because he emerged after Hermine and is not menacing to the protagonist; and lastly, he cannot be the wise old man because Harry first lacked respect for him. His role, however, is similar to the function of Mercurius in the alchemical Opus: Pablo makes things happen and has the power to break Haller's personality into components (Rockwood, 1994). Given the foregoing, it seems reasonable to include alchemy references in Steppenwolf illustrations.

Alchemy references can be unexpectedly helpful in terms of choosing a colour palette. There are four colours associated with the Magnum Opus: black, white, yellow, and red; each of these colours represents one of its four stages and frequently appears in alchemical texts. It is worth noting that alchemists never quite agreed on the exact nature of the process, its sequence, or even the number of stages, but in general, the Work was reduced to four basic operations: separation, analysis, synthesis, and consolidation (Jung, 1953). Carl Jung, for his part, interpreted the alchemical Opus as similar to the analytical psychology of his time. In his archetypal scheme, nigredo is comparable to the shadow, albedo is the anima or animus, citrinitas represents the wise old man, and rubedo is the Self, the unified unconsciousness and consciousness of an individual (Jung, 1968). The parallel between the Jungian concept of individuation and the symbolic meaning of the Great Work is unsurprisingly striking, and that is why, once again, referencing both processes while illustrating Steppenwolf makes perfect sense. To do the Great Work, one needs prima materia, the unknown primordial substance from which everything in the universe is composed; it is the formless substratum of all matter, analogous to chaos, which "carries the projection of the autonomous psychic content" (Jung, 1968: 316). Since the projection emanates from the individual and thus varies from case to case, there are a plethora of definitions for prima materia that frequently contradict each other, and it is difficult to say exactly what it is (Jung, 1968). Nigredo, or "blackening," is the first stage of the said process; it involves the decomposition of prima materia. This process signifies the collapse of the human spirit, meaning that one has to suffer a severe crisis to find one’s true self and rise from the ashes. This idea can be found in the vast majority of Hesse's writings; Demian is the brightest example of Hesse exploiting it as a literary trope. The protagonist's inward journey begins with psychological torture at the hands of a bully, followed by heavy drinking and carousing later in life. Haller's story, in turn, starts with a failed suicide attempt, feelings of despondency, and a longing for death. Albedo, or "whitening," is the second phase. It involves purifying the decomposed prima materia and washing away its "blackness" so that it can break down into two opposing principles and be coagulated into a unity of opposites during the “reddening.” In a metaphorical sense, this process symbolises the purification of the mind and the preparation for further transformations. Citrinitas, or "yellowing" is a stage that gradually fell into oblivion after the 15th century, or, more precisely, merged with the last one, rubedo (Jung, 1953). In a literal sense, citrinitas implies the transmutation of silver into gold, whereas figuratively, it means awakening from a mere reflection of light to a source of light. Jung himself described this stage as the fourth and the final one, that of becoming the light or gold. The Great Work culminates in rubedo, or "reddening," in which the power awakened in citrinitas crystalises. Metaphorically, it epitomises the balance of polar opposites and represents the purified and awakened spirit attaining its highest, purest form. The philosopher’s stone is often depicted as a transparent red substance since the colour red symbolises completion in alchemy.

Speaking of illustrations inside the book, this sounds like a good reason to increase the number of red elements with each subsequent chapter. However, it should never be the dominant colour, not even in the illustration for the last chapter. It is because Haller has not achieved psychological wholeness by the end of the novel; he is yet to do it, and it is barely possible to predict the outcome of his journey. The last lines of the book confirm this statement, “I understood it all. I understood Pablo. I understood Mozart, and somewhere behind me I heard his ghastly laughter. I knew that all the hundred thousand pieces of life’s game were in my pocket . . . I would traverse not once more, but often, the hell of my inner being. One day I would be a better hand at the game. One day I would learn how to laugh. Pablo was waiting for me, and Mozart too” (272).
The ending of Steppenwolf is abrupt. The protagonist did not leave the novel a serene, enlightened sage; rather, he remained the same grouchy, aloof man obsessed with death. Despite this, he moved a few steps closer to acquiring the invaluable skill of not taking himself, others, or even life itself too seriously. From chapter ten onward, the colour white suits him best. In the tenth chapter, a chess player who strangely resembles Pablo confirms the treatise's idea that Haller's soul, as well as everyone else's, is not an indivisible whole but rather consists of multiple parts. He says to Haller, “The mistaken and unhappy notion that a man is an enduring unity is known to you. It is also known to you that a man consists of a multitude of souls, of numerous selves. The separation of the unity of the personality into these numerous pieces passes for madness. Science has invented the name schizomania for it” (218). In this case, the colour white would represent Haller's attempt to reconsider his views on life after being confronted with this knowledge. This colour is often associated with a new beginning, which is also relevant because the novel has an open ending, suggesting that the protagonist may have changed from the inside out after his experiences in the Magic Theatre. The immortals, on the other hand, should probably be portrayed as ghostly red[dish] beings, as they are spiritually complete and not burdened with the conventions and constraints of the real world. What is more, it is worth considering making red the main colour of the cover illustration because it can represent the goal Haller is longing to achieve—to reconcile his wolf and human natures by merging all of his numerous selves into a coherent whole. It would be reasonable to use red as the background colour because, aside from the immortals, there are no other characters that fall under the definition of a pure, homogenous being; this implies that they are less likely to be red and more likely to contrast with the background. Plus, speaking of practical benefits, the colour red can set Steppenwolf apart from other books in the shop by making the cover art more catchy.

Through my research, we can see that depicting a wolf on the cover of Steppenwolf is at the very least pointless. The majority of existing covers either visualise Haller’s misconceptions regarding his personality or leave too much room for interpretation, which can also be misleading. One of the possible solutions to this problem is to create illustrations filled with symbols and allusions so that the potential reader can recognise something familiar and rely on that piece of information when forming their initial opinion about the book. This study found that there are indeed symbols that communicate Hesse’s ideas better than pictures of werewolves. However, a conclusion based on a thought experiment cannot be considered entirely correct unless it is practically proven. Thus, further research, including polling and interaction with potential buyers, is required.

Fig 12. Sherri, Mockup of Steppenwolf Book Cover, (2022)

This picture (Fig. 12) was created as an example of a book cover for Steppenwolf that is not only visually appealing but informative. It combines images from the novel—be they characters or inanimate objects—alchemical symbolism, and allusions to Jungian analysis. This cover design is the culmination of my work, a summary of the novel’s plot. It is as simple as it gets: Harry Haller literally takes a journey inward, and the four colours of the Magnum Opus represent his aspiration to become whole and find inner peace. The chessboard below is supposed to "tell" the reader that this book contains a description of some game. After all, the Magic Theatre is a gaming simulator of some kind, allowing Harry to meet other Harrys, kill people, travel back in time, and so on. The two cars he is trying to squash symbolise both the feeling of being split into two and the danger of seeing life in black and white. This illustration includes cars because the ninth chapter's episode with automobile hunting, as graphic as it is, can represent the first stage of the alchemical opus or, alternatively, an encounter with the shadow.

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