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Hunger by Knut Hamsun
By: (1859-1952)

Hunger (Norwegian: Sult) is a novel by the Norwegian author and Nobel Prize winner Knut Hamsun and was published in its final form in 1890. The novel has been hailed as the literary opening of the 20th century and an outstanding example of modern, psychology-driven literature. It hails the irrationality of the human mind in an intriguing and sometimes humorous novel. Written after Hamsun's return from an ill-fated tour of America, Hunger is loosely based on the author's own impoverished life before his breakthrough in 1890. Set in late 19th century Kristiania, the novel recounts the adventures of a starving young man whose sense of reality is giving way to a delusionary existence on the darker side of a modern metropolis. While he vainly tries to maintain an outer shell of respectability, his mental and physical decay are recounted in detail. His ordeal, enhanced by his inability or unwillingness to pursue a professional career, which he deems unfit for someone of his abilities, is pictured in a series of encounters which Hamsun himself described as 'a series of analyses.' In many ways, the protagonist of the novel displays traits reminiscent of Raskolnikov, whose creator, Fyodor Dostoevsky, was one of Hamsun's main influences. The influence of naturalist authors such as Emile Zola is apparent in the novel, as is his rejection of the realist tradition.

First Page:



Translated from the Norwegian by GEORGE EGERTON

With an introduction by Edwin Bjorkman

Knut Hamsun

Since the death of Ibsen and Strindberg, Hamsun is undoubtedly the foremost creative writer of the Scandinavian countries. Those approaching most nearly to his position are probably Selma Lagerlöf in Sweden and Henrik Pontoppidan in Denmark. Both these, however, seem to have less than he of that width of outlook, validity of interpretation and authority of tone that made the greater masters what they were.

His reputation is not confined to his own country or the two Scandinavian sister nations. It spread long ago over the rest of Europe, taking deepest roots in Russia, where several editions of his collected works have already appeared, and where he is spoken of as the equal of Tolstoy and Dostoyevski. The enthusiasm of this approval is a characteristic symptom that throws interesting light on Russia as well as on Hamsun.

Hearing of it, one might expect him to prove a man of the masses, full of keen social consciousness... Continue reading book >>

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Reviews (Rated: 5 Stars - 1 review)

October 4, 2013
The reading is absolutely wonderful!I enjoyed it immensely!

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