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Digging into the Past #1: Knut Hamsun

August 27, 2012

I have to go all the way back to last September (almost 12 months ago now) to share my thoughts on this, the first book of a new series for me: Digging Into the Past. This short series will include a paragraph on each of the novels or short story collections I have read in the past year while being away from this blog (oh please, do forgive me). So, without further adieu…

Hunger, by Knut Hamsun

Hunger, by Knut Hamsun
Trans. Robert Bly

I didn’t realize what was happening in this novel until I neared the end, but it is a piece of work that I have thought back upon several times since then. What one witnesses in this tightly written work is the destruction of a man – a dignified man – by the experience of hopeful and then hopeless unemployment and homelessness. It is a tragic tale. Compellingly written. Perhaps one of the great works of the early modernist period (but I’m not expert, and can’t really say that I’m all that familiar with the early modernist period). What I can tell you is that this work demands a high degree of comprehension – the evidence of the man’s disintegration is provided, but the dots aren’t connected for you – and will produce in you the highest degree of compassion for the homeless and the unemployed. And then it will haunt you, and, if you are like me, direct you to other works by this highly imaginative author.

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