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Sult by Knut Hamsun ********************************************************** We are pleased to offer thousands of books for the Kindle, including thousands of hard-to-find literature and classic fiction books. Click on our Editor Name (eBook-Ventures) next to the book title above to view all of the titles that are currently available. ************************************* Sult by Knut Hamsun ********************************************************** We are pleased to offer thousands of books for the Kindle, including thousands of hard-to-find literature and classic fiction books. Click on our Editor Name (eBook-Ventures) next to the book title above to view all of the titles that are currently available. **********************************************************

21 review for Sult

  1. 4 out of 5

    s.penkevich

    I often catch myself staring, rather lovingly in fact, at my bookshelves. Each shelf is swelling nearly to the point of overflowing with books, each authors collection seemingly positioned at random - yet, somehow, the location of each work holds some secret form of order that is beyond even me. I'll caress each spine with my eyes, occasionally running a finger down it to feel a spark of retrospection and for a moment recall the times when I held a particular book during the course of absorbing I often catch myself staring, rather lovingly in fact, at my bookshelves. Each shelf is swelling nearly to the point of overflowing with books, each authors collection seemingly positioned at random - yet, somehow, the location of each work holds some secret form of order that is beyond even me. I'll caress each spine with my eyes, occasionally running a finger down it to feel a spark of retrospection and for a moment recall the times when I held a particular book during the course of absorbing it. I can often relate any major event in my life to the particular novel I was reading at the time, and vice versa, making my bookshelf an eternal, tangled web of my past. Perhaps this is why I never got into the electronic readers. I can understand their versatility and convenience, but there is a strange power felt while just holding a nice edition of a novel in your hands, especially after time has passed and you pick it back up just to feel its weight in your palms. Plus, I greatly enjoy scavenging through used book stores for old hardcovers and often traverse several stores before reading a novel I know I'll love just to be sure I have the edition that best suits me. One day I hope to have my own personal library; in my mind it looks much like the one from Beauty and the Beast a la Disney, but less cartoonish. Maybe it is an obsession, but literature fills a special place in my heart. It should, seeing as I owe a large sum of money back for furthering my education of it. On the topic of obsession comes Hamsun's first novel, Hunger, published in 1890. As my eyes scanned each novel I had read in 2011, they stopped here and acknowledged this as my personal favorite novel I had read this past year. This book is a monumental achievement of psychological literature as it is a powerful examination of human consciousness. Hunger is a novel of a starving artist, meant in the most literal sense possible, who puts up with extreme hardship and hunger, suffering all for the pure sake of putting pen to paper. The reader is immersed in the nameless narrators consciousness, following him down the chilly streets of Christiana as he barely hangs on by a thread in pursuit of the next burst of genius to sell for small change in order to continue on. The reader is trapped in this unraveling mind, floating on his rantings and ravings that Hamsun details with eloquent precision, and watches as his moods shift and swing to and fro like a hinged door in a hellish hurricane. I read this novel in a matter of two days, it is one that simply cannot be put down. I would set it aside and feel its pull begging me to transport myself back into the narrator and suffer his trials and tribulations with him. Although I read it perched on the side of a pool, my feet in the clear water and basking in the exquisit Michigan summer sun, I could not feel at ease as Hamsun projected the mania onto me. I felt much as the narrator felt, being drawn inside of him. He writes: The dark had captured my brain and gave me not an instant of peace. What if I myself became dissolved into the dark, turned into it? The novel moves in several parts, each taking place a few weeks after the previous and pitting the narrator in his most extreme moments of desperation. It will become quickly apparent that this narrator is no fool however, and is in fact quite brilliant. This brilliant mind weaves pages of lustrous prose and cutting insight to the world, and people, around him, yet we see him loose control and throw into a fit of anger and delirium and experience the occasional aberration of reality. It proposed the dilema, has he gone mad from hunger, or is he hungry because he has gone mad? Hamsun offers evidence to either side, yet leaves it up to you to draw conclusions. Hamsun intentionally conceives him out of contradictions, much like his hero Johan Nagel of his excellent sophomore novel Mysteries, showing him as brash but tender, kind yet callous, pathetic yet brave. He often comes into money but gives it all away to someone else while overcome with manic passions and seems to care little about his own lamentable conditions as if it were all some sort of game to him. He prays and speaks to God, trusting in his design, yet doubts his existence at the same time. This attention to the psychology of a frenzied, contradictory lead role has brought many comparions of Hamsun to Fyodor Dostoyevsky and his character Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment. This is an apt comparison, although I felt Hamsun's narrator and the Underground man from Notes From Underground were more kindred spirits. This book could practically be a prequel to that novel of Dostoyevsky's. This novel is one of Hamsun's most personal, as it draws heavily from his own life experiences. As Robert Bly's afterword describes, Hamsun spent most of his young life working hard labor for menial pay, and became very much an introvert from the lack of his peers whom he could converse about 'higher ideas' with. He spend much of this time hungry and exceedingly poor, and would go into fits of writing lofty incantations, yet, in the yellow morning, would see these pages as nothing but stanzas of gibberish and tear them up and toss the scraps into the street (if you caught the lifting of Ginsberg there, one thousand cool points are awarded to you. That's my favorite part). Perhaps Hamsun felt he was loosing grip on reality, much like his narrator. I read an essay of Hamsun once that said he was a wanderer, often moving to new places to get inspiration for novels and write in seclusion, and that he was highly popular with the female folk. The narrator seems an extension of Hamsun in this regard, as it is hinted that he is not a native of Chrisiana and has all across the map, and that even in his wretched state of malnutrition causing his ragged clothes to hang off him and his hair to fall out, he is still able to attract the affections of a local lady. Hunger is not a novel you will ever forget. It sprouts deep roots within your heart and mind and will follow your thoughts wherever you go. If you are a first-time reader of the great Nobel laureate Knut Hamsun, this is a perfect introduction. Although I don't like to give such a one-sided depiction of a novel, this is one that I cannot find anything negative for to say. Upon completion, I declared that some day I will teach this novel, it is that good and there is enough material for countless discussions. This was my favorite novel that I read in 2011, and I hope you read it. It would be a damn shame not to. 5/5 How can you resist that mustache?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Discombobulated…frenzied…distracted…rambling…and oh so BRILLIANT. Knut Hamsun's fevered, stream of consciousness classic is something special. Unwaveringly "in the now," this novel's every word felt as if it had fallen from the narrator's mind, unfiltered, unrestrained, and unreflected upon. Wow, was this something. The unnamed narrator, with his exaggerated and unjustified notions of his own superiority reminded me a lot of Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment, while the disjointed style and u Discombobulated…frenzied…distracted…rambling…and oh so BRILLIANT. Knut Hamsun's fevered, stream of consciousness classic is something special. Unwaveringly "in the now," this novel's every word felt as if it had fallen from the narrator's mind, unfiltered, unrestrained, and unreflected upon. Wow, was this something. The unnamed narrator, with his exaggerated and unjustified notions of his own superiority reminded me a lot of Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment, while the disjointed style and unreliable perspective was a subtle cross between Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. Despite its commonalities with other great works, Hunger, through its unrelenting, unapologetic look at a life, unraveling due to poverty and physical decay, is a singular work all its own. I was enthralled. In brief, the story follows the wanderings of a starving writer as he navigates the streets the City of Kristiania (aka Oslo, Norway). He is destitute and his body (and mental faculties) are failing from lack of food. Yet, despite having no employment, no lodging (much of the time), no food (most of the time), and absolutely no money, our protagonist feels himself vastly superior to all those with whom he mingles. His intellect and his skills as a writer earmark him for greatness, and it is only the whims of fate and the enmity of God that have held him back from his rightful place. Thus, a talented, but overly self-entitled man struggles with his lack of success and his want of the necessities of life as he slowly descends into malnutrition-induced madness. The above doesn't even scratch the surface of this story, but it gives you a decent (hopefully) roadmap of the tale to follow. And what a tale it is. Not a fictional biography or a period piece, but an amazingly authentic (or so it felt) psychological portrait of the suffering artist. The story of genius, twisted by delusion and crippled by hunger and depravation. It is also a tale of massive, unrestrained Ego, because, like Raskolnikov before him, most of what befalls our main character is the result of his own irrational refusal to acknowledge his lack of superiority. For example, at one point, when hunger has started to transform his visage into something heretofore unrecognized, our protagonist responds to his predicament as follows: The devil only knew why you had to be turned into a veritable freak just because of hunger! I experienced rage once more, its final flare-up, a spasm…Here I was, with a head on my shoulders without its equal in the whole country, and with a pair of fists, by golly, that could grind the town porter to fine dust, and yet I was turning into a freak from hunger, right here in the city of Kristiania! Yet the idea of begging, or even asking, for help is anathema to him. He needs no help, he will accept no charity. Well, I hope that ego tastes yummy, my good man, because that self importance is going to be a costly meal. Even when his circumstances become so dire that he begins to lie, cheat and steal to obtain nourishment and lodging, our man still manages to hold himself out as something singular for not having perpetrated worse actions. Rotten Patches were beginning to appear in my inner being, black spongy growths that were spreading more and more. And God sat in his heaven keeping a watchful eye on me, making sure that my destruction took place according to all the rules of the game, slowly and steadily, with no letup. But in the pit of hell the devils were raising their hackles in fury because it was taking me such a long time to commit a cardinal sin, an unforgivable sin for which God in his righteousness had to cast me down. God plotting against him, Satan awed by his retraint in the face of such trials, and the world too stupid to recognize his worth. This psychological profile is fascinating stuff. As maudlin and depressing as the subject matter sounds, Hamsun, to his enormous credit, keeps the story from ever succumbing to bleakness. Part of this is because our narrator remains optimistic and convinced that his plight will resolve itself to his advantage, and part of this is because our narrator will not admit to weakness even inside his own head. Thus we get casual statements like,My hunger was getting rather bad, I felt faint and threw up a bit here and there on the sly. Full stop…open mouth…bulge eyes. When I read that I was stunned. For the hunger-caused deterioration to have reached the point where our narrator was constantly vomiting, and for him to describe it in such a matter of fact tone, completely free of color commentary. That struck me and actually increased the impact of the protagonist's situation on me. Well done, Mr. Hamsun. Surprisingly, the story also has many moments of genuine humor. Our main character is so maddened by his privation that he sees conspiracies and persecutions wherever he goes, many of which are explained in hyperbole that comes across as very amusing. Only the combined effort of the world and the heavenly host are able to effectively work to thwart our man's achieving recognition (and money) for his work. Have I mentioned Raskolnikov yet? I really enjoyed myself reading this. It's not a light read. It requires effort from the reader to maintain connection to the narrative, that jumps from one thought to the next like an amorous rabbit on ginseng, but it's worth it. A wonderfully prosed, engrossing anatomy of a talented, but reality-impaired individual spinning out of control as a result of the debilitating hunger and the concomitant mental and physical deterioration that accompanies it. The introduction to the Penguin edition I read stated that this book is considered the birth of 20th century literature (despite being published in 1890). I can see why. Finally, I want to give a big, heartfelt thank you to The wise and most noble, Sir Penkevich, without whom I probably would not have come across this amazing story. I owe you one. 4.0 to 4.5 stars. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lynne King

    Last night the “fog” finally left me as effortlessly as it had arrived seven months ago. My mourning period was now officially over, although the good memories would be firmly entrenched forever in my mind, as well as the sad ones. I shed my widow’s weeds. Also the tears surprisingly enough poured for the first time in ages. I certainly do not have a weak character. I had been in the doldrums and was not progressing, nor “turning the page”. Knut showed me via “Hunger” (Norwegian: “Sult”) that on Last night the “fog” finally left me as effortlessly as it had arrived seven months ago. My mourning period was now officially over, although the good memories would be firmly entrenched forever in my mind, as well as the sad ones. I shed my widow’s weeds. Also the tears surprisingly enough poured for the first time in ages. I certainly do not have a weak character. I had been in the doldrums and was not progressing, nor “turning the page”. Knut showed me via “Hunger” (Norwegian: “Sult”) that one has to continue with life regardless; forget hunger, forget the dark shadows, the periods of feeling sorry for oneself, just survive, continue on regardless whatever happens, for life has given you another chance and another adventure to pursue. So grab it and forge with speed into the sunlight. I’m sure as I look down the valley to the backdrop of my beloved Pyrenean mountain range and the Pic d’Ani that they would agree wholeheartedly with me, as would my husband John. I do believe in serendipity, as well as destiny and I do believe that I was meant to read this book. I had read Steve’s and Rakhi’s reviews a while back but to me they were purely excellent reviews as so many are on Goodreads. But then suddenly another review appeared and it affected me for some singular reason. Perhaps I had to read it? Upon reading the first paragraph, I was hooked and ready for this wonderful literary journey: It was during the time I wondered about and starved in Christiania; Christiania, singular city, from which no man departs without carrying away the traces of his sojourn there. And did that indeed prove to be the case. This book is such a mixed bag of philosophical and multi-faceted reveries, vagaries and ideas. Our unnamed narrator (why would an author want to leave a narrator without a name? I’ve never understood that) runs the gamut of every conceivable emotion: Anger, aversion, courage, dejection, desire, despair, fear, hate, hope, love, sadness. (M.B. Arnold 1996) The average individual with a good job will never know about hunger. Imagine going without food for two or three days because there’s no money to purchase even a loaf of bread and finally drinking water, which causes the individual to retch. Imagine, even when on your uppers as in the case of our author, you are so convinced of your literary aspirations that you persevere regardless, even though you have nowhere to live, as there’s no money to pay the rent; finally losing the one pencil you own and so thus being unable to write an article for “Commodore”, the narrator’s lifeline for survival. Imagine feeling desire and lust for a woman when your clothes are in rags but nevertheless wanting to pursue it through to the utter end. Imagine feeling so frustrated with yourself that you succumb to anger and hold inner conflicting arguments and discussions and even wonder if you are becoming insane. Imagine crawling back to a lodging house, even though the thought humiliates you, when the pregnant landlady has already thrown you out for not paying your rent. Imagine lying so that people will still think that you are working and finally, imagine being so convinced of your own writing ability that you continue and continue but when finally… Well that is for you the reader to find out. There are so many excellent sections in here in which to quote but if I did that I would indeed be quoting the entire book. However, I have to add the following: There is an amazing section when “Commodore”, who has accepted articles/essays from the narrator in the past, who upon seeing the latter staggering due to lack of food, gives him half-a sovereign. He’s certainly clever and that’s for sure as he knows that a good article will eventually be forthcoming from our narrator. The humility of our narrator upon this act: I was left standing on the pavement, gazing after him. I wept quietly and silently. “I never saw the like!” I said to myself. “He gave me half-a-sovereign.” I walked back and placed myself where he had stood, imitated all his movements, held the half-sovereign up to my moistened eyes, inspected it on both side, and began to swear – to swear at the top of my voice, that there was no manner of doubt that what I held in my hand was a half-sovereign. When I came across “Ylajali”, I assumed in ignorance this was the name of the woman who the narrator was facing and for whom he felt such desire: I stand and gaze into her eyes, and hit, on the spur of the moment, on a name which I have never heard before — a name with a gliding, nervous sound — Ylajali! I was fascinated by this name. It appeared to be so exotic but with a Yiddish ring to it. I researched into it and found: The name is not only a symbolic substitute for the desired woman. It is also a symbol of desire itself – considered in the Lacanian sense of a drive sustained by lack, sliding from element to element in the chain of symbolic substitutes, and which can never be fulfilled without losing its character of being desire: Y-la-ja-li Although “Hunger” proved to be a sensation upon publication, many individuals objected to him. Firstly Knut Hamsun was an unknown quantity and was: a true scion of the best old peasant stock. Through the impressions of his childhood and early youth he became affiliated with the volatile race of Nordland, a people as alien from the heavier inland peasant as if they lived on different continents. The fishermen who play with death for the wealth of the sea and depend for their livelihood on the caprices of nature do not easily harden into traditional moulds. Childish and improvident, witty and sentimental, often fond of the melodramatic, simple and yet shrewd, superstitious but brave beyond all praise, the native of Nordland is a type unlike every other Norwegian. Wherever he may roam, he will yearn for the wonderland of his youth…as from the nature of Nordland with its alternations of melting loveliness and stark gloom that he drew his poetic inspiration. During his second stay in America, between 1886 and 1888, he worked as a navvy and for nine months as a tramconductor in Chicago. He was known for his habit of reading Aristotle and Euripides between stops. He was very poor and weathered the deep winter of Chicago by wearing newspaper under his clothes; his colleagues liked to touch him to make him crackle.. Our author was a true wanderer throughout his life and perhaps probably due to this, he learned humility and all those other good aspects that make up our lives as human beings. I really admire this author and am so delighted that I’ve read this remarkable book. For me there’s something special about Norwegian authors that manages to touch my psyche. Is it the weather that brings such incredible richness to these Norwegian works? I really don’t know. Purely one of the wonders of our life on this remarkable planet, Earth, I guess. And finally, my special thanks to Will for helping me out of the “fog”.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kalliope

    I did not feel anything while reading this novel. Well, this is not strictly true. What I mean is that I felt no pity, no compassion, no sorrow, no empathy, while following the struggles, the penuries, the poverty, the deprivation, the hunger, of the nameless protagonist. My feelings were not of the humanitarian type, but of the literary. I was astonished at the literary proposal Hamsun had written in what was still the nineteenth century. The ‘flâneur’ existence of the narrator made me think of B I did not feel anything while reading this novel. Well, this is not strictly true. What I mean is that I felt no pity, no compassion, no sorrow, no empathy, while following the struggles, the penuries, the poverty, the deprivation, the hunger, of the nameless protagonist. My feelings were not of the humanitarian type, but of the literary. I was astonished at the literary proposal Hamsun had written in what was still the nineteenth century. The ‘flâneur’ existence of the narrator made me think of Baudelaire, but this is no gentleman who idly strolls an urban landscape. Hamsun’s man is certainly urban; he is a writer, a journalist really. But he is prey to an anxiety and to his own excruciating self-examination. His poverty places him on the opposite side of dandy. But he is very modern too; just another epitome of modernity. The author’s ability to develop this character in all his plight without making me feel any commiseration for the stroller, astounded me. Very different writing from a nineteenth century naturalist depiction of poverty to provoke the reader's or viewer's emotions. Rather, I felt admiration for this man who is in a continuous and desperate need of nourishment, manages, however, to keep his spirits up and who, when encountering any little surprise or sparkle, is even capable of feeling exhilaration quickly forgetting that he is in dire straits. The absence of social analysis or criticism, and the character’s moral dignity distances him from any portrayal as a victim. There is humour too, and this has the effect of letting tension dissolve - but only at intervals, before it builds up again. And as this anonymous person also has inclination to web lies around his existence, to no purpose, just to avoid anyone getting too close to him – whether this is another fictional character, or the reader--, he remains elusive. No, I could not feel pity for him. The hunger he feels seems part of his nature, for even when he manages to swallow some food, his body cannot take it and he vomits it and expels it out of his system. Feeling hungry is not something that happens to him, but is his mode of existence. That is, until he gets tired of this, and leaves. And I am left in literary perplexity. ******* I used the edition translated by Sverre Lyngstad. He has also included an essay on the Translation issues as well as a comparative table of terms in this edition. This is the one I would recommend.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dolors

    What is it that differentiates dignity from stubbornness? Moral rectitude from pride? Attitude. Intention. Motivation. Knut Hamsun’s autobiographical novella explores the tenuous line that separates the iron will from the almost obsession of an aspiring writer who refuses to give way to the silent pressure of a dehumanized society that insists on nullifying his efforts to earn his living through his writing. The protagonist is a nameless narrator who seldom raises sympathy from an estranged reader What is it that differentiates dignity from stubbornness? Moral rectitude from pride? Attitude. Intention. Motivation. Knut Hamsun’s autobiographical novella explores the tenuous line that separates the iron will from the almost obsession of an aspiring writer who refuses to give way to the silent pressure of a dehumanized society that insists on nullifying his efforts to earn his living through his writing. The protagonist is a nameless narrator who seldom raises sympathy from an estranged reader because he seems to be the source of all his misery and keeps on refusing help that is not merited by what he considers honest means – in his standards, composing high quality articles. Such apparently scrupulous moral values collide violently with the fastidious nature of this dubious individual. He is vengeful, arrogant and self-righteous; a narcissist, a masochist who grovels in self-pity one moment and is inexplicably ecstatic the next, spurred by his unappreciated worthiness as an artist of the word. Is it delusion or outstanding genius that rules his erratic actions? Presented in four fragmented chapters, the dramatic spectrum of Knut’s setting contrasts with the acerbic humor displayed by the unattractive narrator, and there is a cyclical pattern in the manifestations of both shown always in the same order: jocularity that go hand in hand with relative economic stability at the beginning of each section and a galloping downfall towards uttermost penury that almost ends by the protagonist’s death from prolonged periods of starvation to close each part. Kristiana, the Norwegian city, opens and closes the story and remains the impassible spectator of the tribulations of this individual and the silent prosecutor of his fate, echoing authors like Rodenbach, Camus or Kafka who depicted alienation amidst an indifferent society using the modernistic hues of symbolism, surrealism and existentialist doctrines. At the end of the last chapter, the reader has followed the histrionic ups and downs of a man who has stopped being ashamed of his poverty, a man who has suffered a subtle but ongoing transformation and defeated his physical needs, his craving for acceptance and social recognition. He always arrives late, the clock mocks him, but he tries and tries and tries again, almost in Sisyphean effort. Extreme hunger hasn’t killed him, cold and permanent dampness hasn’t frozen his spirit, repeated rejection hasn’t diminished his self-esteem. Contrarily, the extremity of his degradation has given free rein to his creative drive, and the hunger to write, the lust to compose is what has kept him alive, what has finally set him free. I stare at the cover illustration of my edition, Edvard Munch’s “Anxiety”, and ponder about the real horrors of existence. It might be better to embrace loneliness as one of the predominant states in human nature than to sell one’s soul for the superficial acceptance of the faceless multitude that silently marches off towards the comfortable palace of invisibility. But, is it?

  6. 4 out of 5

    Seemita

    A review of this book from my pen is akin to injustice. After all, what do I know of hunger? Something that loses its meaning with a hop to the kitchen? A need that vanishes with the stair-climbing to the canteen? A routine that knocks every four hours, only to be dispatched back to its den with a pouring of necessary and unnecessary stuff? A fuel that is available at an arm’s length? A six-lettered word that assumes greater importance in symbolic garb than its bare attire? I have been fortunate. A review of this book from my pen is akin to injustice. After all, what do I know of hunger? Something that loses its meaning with a hop to the kitchen? A need that vanishes with the stair-climbing to the canteen? A routine that knocks every four hours, only to be dispatched back to its den with a pouring of necessary and unnecessary stuff? A fuel that is available at an arm’s length? A six-lettered word that assumes greater importance in symbolic garb than its bare attire? I have been fortunate. This beast has not imprisoned me beyond few days. But on those very few days, I have met him. On those few, religious days when I have been compelled to meet him, I have met him. On those unannounced stranded days when a morsel had been a long meeting away, I have met him. In the eyes; stark and dark. And he runs havoc. He gnaws with his sharp paws and he shrieks in his piercing voice, he snaps my nervous tranquilities and he slaps my organ’s functionalities, he throws vile liquids up my throat and he shovels my ideals out of the window. Probably that is why, I could fathom the emotions running hysterically amok within the unnamed protagonist of this novel, who had only one enemy: hunger. A writer, who likes diving into the inky seas of politics, drama, poetry and recitation on the bed of teeming, blank pages, finds his resources maliciously blackened under the noxious cloud of prolonged hunger. He chews on stale bread and squeezes into abandoned spaces but the beast finds him there. He bites into meatless bones and clutches his stomach under pungent blankets but the beast turns up again. To appease the beast, he devours coarse pieces of wood, mouths half of his shirt’s pockets and licks his own blood but the beast pounds on his doors again, and again, and again; without rest, without pause, in harrowing ferocity, in towering intimidation. It is as if a score of diminutive gnome-like insects set their heads on one side and gnawed for a little, then laid their heads on the other side and gnawed a little more, then lay quite still for a moment’s space, and then began afresh, boring noiselessly in, and without any haste, and left empty spaces everywhere after them as they went on. However, despite this unbearable burden of abject poverty and indeterminate survival, he releases episodes into his life that brings one of the foremost teachings of my father, rushing to my mind. My baba, as I address him, maintained that one can live without food for days, without peace for hours and without air for minutes but one cannot live without dignity and self-respect for even a second. Having subjected it to numerous tests with nil fallacy, I am assured of the accuracy of this lesson and hence, the sight of our protagonist preserving his self-respect at the cost of handing his inhumanly underfed body, a sentence of further abjuration, left a restorative smile on my face. He keeps his skin of honesty wrapped tight to his resilient heart, despite the shrinking and eventual shedding of external clothing in lieu of a token crumb to humour the raging beast. And almost logically but irregularly, the beast accepts taming when the halo from that resilient heart assumes indomitable magnificence, blind-folding it in layers of goodness, humour, affection, companionship and praise for the creator. The breadth of this work expands in multidimensional plains of psychology and multifarious schemas of sociology, effecting an amalgamation of astounding inferences that can be picked at every small juncture of the alleys running in human psyche; I cannot credit Hamsun enough for his surgical precision in uncovering the human mind and segregating his nervous dynamics, keeping the black and white in their birth colors, diluting none and awarding credit for the role each one plays. Hamsun was considered to be often skewed towards an asocial vision, alienating tendencies and isolated ways of life. But perhaps it is essential to understand the asocial knot to thread the social yarn; much like the shadows retreating behind opaque patches for the sunshine to melt and clear the vision. I do not wish the fate of our protagonist to anyone. But if you stumble upon one, exhibit some chivalry, sensitivity and measured humour – the proven sedatives for the beast.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    813. Sult = Hunger, Knut Hamsun Hunger (Norwegian: Sult) is a novel by the Norwegian author Knut Hamsun published in 1890. Parts of it had been published anonymously in the Danish magazine "Ny Jord" in 1888. The novel has been hailed as the literary opening of the 20th century and an outstanding example of modern, psychology-driven literature. Hunger portrays the irrationality of the human mind in an intriguing and sometimes humorous manner. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و هشتم دسامبر سال 2010 میلا 813. Sult = Hunger, Knut Hamsun Hunger (Norwegian: Sult) is a novel by the Norwegian author Knut Hamsun published in 1890. Parts of it had been published anonymously in the Danish magazine "Ny Jord" in 1888. The novel has been hailed as the literary opening of the 20th century and an outstanding example of modern, psychology-driven literature. Hunger portrays the irrationality of the human mind in an intriguing and sometimes humorous manner. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و هشتم دسامبر سال 2010 میلادی عنوان: گرسنه ؛ نویسنده: کنوت هامسون؛ (نگاه) ادبیات، عنوانهای ترجمه‌ های فارسی: «گرسنگی»؛ یا «گرسنه»؛ مترجمها: غلامعلی سیار، سیدحبیب گوهری‌راد، و احمد گلشیری نویسنده همین کتاب، بیست و دو ساله بود، که وطن خویش «نروژ» را ترک گفت، و به آمریکای شمالی رفت. او از سال 1883 میلادی به بعد، نویسندگی را حرفه خویش برگزید، و به تدریج آثارش را منتشر کرد. انتشار رمان روانکاوانه و نیمه خود زندگینامه ی: «گرسنه»؛ در سال 1890 میلادی، شهرت «هامسون» را به اوج رساند. برخی «فرانتس کافکا» را در نوشتن داستان کوتاه: «هنرمند گرسنه»، متأثر از همین رمان میدانند. در سال 1920 میلادی «هامسون» برنده ی جایزه نوبل در ادبیات شد، که البته نگارش رمان حماسی: «میوه‌ های زمین»، نقش زیادی برای دریافت آن جایزه داشت، ایشان در سال 1952 میلادی، در سن 93 سالگی، زندگی را بدرود گفتند. «توماس مان» ایشان را از نسل: «فئودور داستایوسکی» و «نیچه» میدانستند. «هامسون» در ادبیات روانکاوانه، همراه با تکنیکهای جریان ناخودآگاه، و تک گویی درونی، که بعدها در آثار: «جیمز جویس»، «مارسل پروست»، و «ویرجینیا وولف»، ظاهر شدند، پیشگام بوده است. ا. شربیانی

  8. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    Started reading the original Norwegian edition today. I'm fluent in Swedish but don't really know Norwegian, though I have read maybe half a dozen Norwegian books. Comparing with English, it's rather like reading something in broad Scots dialect that's been written down phonetically. Iain Banks fans will be able to relate. So far, it's pretty good, but I'm only 15 pages into it. ***************************************************** I come down the main staircase of the hotel. At reception, Zenit, Started reading the original Norwegian edition today. I'm fluent in Swedish but don't really know Norwegian, though I have read maybe half a dozen Norwegian books. Comparing with English, it's rather like reading something in broad Scots dialect that's been written down phonetically. Iain Banks fans will be able to relate. So far, it's pretty good, but I'm only 15 pages into it. ***************************************************** I come down the main staircase of the hotel. At reception, Zenit, the lovely Indian-Swedish girl, is on duty again. I pause and talk with her. My train isn't until the afternoon. Will it be alright if I sit in the restaurant until it's time to leave? She says it's fine. I feel grateful, she is always very kind. She says that she and her boyfriend are looking for a skiing trip. Maybe they will go to Grenoble. I say I have been there, but only in the summer. It's a nice town. I don't understand why I am telling her this. She wants to know what the skiing is like. She says she won't keep me, I was on my way to get breakfast. She's clearly giving me the brush-off. It hasn't happened before. At breakfast, the waitress asks what I want. I only take the continental buffet. I think at first that all the bread has gone, but then I find some under a cloth. The toaster hardly even warms it up. As usual, the dial is turned to minimum. I don't dare change the setting, so I run the bread twice; it's still underdone. I sit down and eat it, together with a small bowl of muesli. The view from the window is beautiful, and I watch the tide flowing out in the bay. An elderly couple is walking along the beach, together with their dog. The dog is wearing a red coat. It scampers round them in the wet sand. I go back to my room and pack up my things, then come back down to reception. Zenit gives me the bill, and I hand her my Visa card. I fold up the bill and put it away. Then I notice that it is the hotel's copy. She doesn't want to embarrass me, so she keeps my copy instead without saying anything. I go back to the restaurant with my bags. I think I will take out my laptop and work until lunchtime. I have things I should be doing, but I log on to GoodReads instead. I'm spending far too much time there. No one has commented on my review of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. It wasn't really very funny. The mail I sent to the woman who recommended the Hamsun book has bounced. She has disconnected her account. I hardly knew her, but I feel disquieted by this. I am too restless to work, so I decide to post a review of Christer Kihlman's Dyre Prins. As soon as I have done so, I wonder whether it was a good idea. Maybe I shouldn't have said that I had been moved by the scene with the prostitute. People may think that I patronise prostitutes too. I tell myself that this is ridiculous, but I keep thinking about it. It seems even worse though to edit the review. I suddenly notice that it is nearly one o'clock. They are evidently not going to open the restaurant for lunch. I should have understood that. I consider going into Newquay and finding a place to eat, but it's too complicated. During the off season, nearly everything will be closed. I write a few mails and chat with some GoodReads friends. Then I go back to reception for the third time. Zenit is still there. She looks surprised, and asks if I have missed my train. I suddenly feel anxious. Maybe I got the time wrong? But no, it is not due for another three quarters of an hour. I ask if she can call a taxi. She does so. I say goodbye and go out to wait for it. The taxi driver explains why there are no RyanAir flights at the moment. The Newquay airport authorities refused to give the airline a guarantee that the repairs would be finished within three weeks, so RyanAir withdrew flights until the beginning of March. Now they are threatening to sue, since the airport was clearly at fault. I am grateful to the driver for explaining this, and give him a large tip. He doesn't understand why I have done it, but seems happy. On the train, I take out Hamsun again. I try to read, but I am unable to concentrate. The difference between Swedish and Norwegian is larger than I had remembered, and I often have to guess words. Sometimes there is a whole sentence that makes no sense. I would like to write a witty GoodReads review, but I can't come up with any ideas. I decide that I will just describe what happened to me today. ***************************************************** Thank God! I've now changed trains, and this new one has food. The cheese, bacon and pickle sandwich I purchased from Café Express was a bit disgusting, but I wolfed it down, together with a mango smoothy. £4.70 well spent. Hm, Hamsun is, as everyone said, rather good, and it's pleasant to see that my Norwegian is coming back by leaps and bounds. Why was I feeling so negative earlier? ***************************************************** Not really knowing Norwegian, the way I read the book is to imagine it being read aloud, then listen to it as though it were heavily accented Swedish. This is now working very well. In fact, almost too well... the virtually audible first-person account is quite painful, and I can't read more than a few pages without needing to take a pause. But I feel I'm getting the genuine Hamsun experience, at any rate. ***************************************************** I am still wondering why I don't find it at all funny. Jessica T, whose opinion I respect, assures me that she finds black humor here. There are things that I see I could find amusing under slightly different circumstances, but I just don't experience them that way. Everything seems unutterably grim and painful. I was so relieved when the narrator got ten kronor for his newspaper piece! Either my Norwegian still hasn't come back enough (possible), or I am, for some reason, too close to the subject matter. There was indeed a period of two or three days when I was a student, and had somehow contrived through bad planning to run out of both food and money. It was unpleasant and somewhat Hamsunesque, but it didn't last very long, and happened more than 30 years ago. So I wouldn't have thought I'd still be scarred by this experience. Strange! ***************************************************** Finally got back to this book after an extended vacation reading other stuff... now about two-thirds of the way through. OK, I agree with Jessica: it is quite funny. I think the tone has changed somewhat since the first part. Though my altered perspective may be due to the fact that my eye/ear is now pretty much attuned to the language, which it wasn't at the start. Will have to go back to the beginning when I've finished, and see if I view it differently. ***************************************************** Finished. It's a pretty scary book. He spares himself, and the reader, nothing... try as I would, I couldn't detach myself from him, his humiliation and descent into madness. He is completely at the mercy of the world. Most of the time he's hungry and desperate, and that's pretty much all he's feeling. But when he gets drunk, that takes him over too, and during the episode with "Ylajali" he's equally overcome by her. I realized that, when I was about 15 and seriously into chess, I had in fact met someone rather a lot like him. He sometimes visited my chess club; he was the son of an English aristocrat, but was only interested in playing chess, and had been disinherited. He was in his late 20s, was painfully thin, and always wore exactly the same clothes, jeans and a check shirt. I thought he was kind of glamorous, because he'd played in international events (he hadn't done at all well). He said he couldn't concentrate properly in a chess club, because it was too noisy, and asked if I'd like to come back to his place. He told me he'd play without watching the board, and would kill me. I was intrigued. I turned up at the address he'd given me. He had a single room in a nasty part of town. The place was filthy and almost bare, except for an unmade bed, a table, and a chair or two. I vividly remember a half-empty bottle of milk standing in one corner; it was thick with mold, and looked as though it had been there at least a month. We played a game; he gave me the white pieces, as well as not looking at the board. I had read up a variation in the King's Indian Defense, and it became clear that he didn't know the theory at all. I won easily, but felt disappointed. I'd rather have been amazed by his erratic talent. I googled him just now, and find nothing at all after 1974, about a year or so after I played him. I fear the worst. But Knut Hamsun clearly survived, and went on to win the Nobel Prize. It's hard to see how, given that Hunger is supposed to be mostly based on true events, and it's even harder to see how he became a huge supporter of the Nazis. Life is very strange.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rakhi Dalal

    This powerful work of writing by Knut Hamsun, clearly lets you think what the state of ‘hunger’ can do to a human being. Yes, by ‘hunger’, the author does really refer to the state of starvation in the absence of food. This idea of ‘hunger’, which looks like just another figure when it makes its appearance in one’s view in the form of some statistics, something which the well-to do people cannot even imagine about, is the essential sketch of this extremely thought provoking work by Hamsun. Tellin This powerful work of writing by Knut Hamsun, clearly lets you think what the state of ‘hunger’ can do to a human being. Yes, by ‘hunger’, the author does really refer to the state of starvation in the absence of food. This idea of ‘hunger’, which looks like just another figure when it makes its appearance in one’s view in the form of some statistics, something which the well-to do people cannot even imagine about, is the essential sketch of this extremely thought provoking work by Hamsun. Telling us about a young writer, who isn’t making much in terms of money, the author exceptionally explains what ‘hunger’ can do even to the mind of a well educated person. The struggle of the young writer, while going on without bread for days at a stretch, is displayed here in a bone chilling manner. Sometimes, it drives the poor soul into delirium. He plunges into imagining things and events, talking to himself, inventing new words or furiously trying to work over a new idea for a story or a piece of writing so as to be able to sell it to a newspaper to earn some crones. Sometimes, when overpowered by hunger, he also tries to frighten people and to mock them. This gives him an outlet and a momentarily refuge from the agonizing pain inside. Though he soon recovers his senses and reproaches himself for doing such things. He keeps looking for a job but doesn’t succeed. One by one he pawns every thing that belongs to him to get some crones for food till at last, he is just left with a blanket and the clothes that he wears everyday. His struggle makes something inside you break. You feel a sense of anger growing inside for not being able to help that feeble, slowly decaying person. More so when he is wet from sleeping on a bench and extremely cold. But what really fills you with anxiety is that the poor man, though almost broke, plunging into the state of hunger every now and then and never once sleeping on a full stomach, still exhibits a strong moral character. He, perhaps because of pride, doesn’t tell anyone about his state of condition. Once, when he is given some exchange money accidentally by a shopkeeper, the weight of those coins in his pocket keep weighing upon his conscience. Till at last, he gives that money to a cake seller voluntarily and goes penniless again. It makes you more anxious. What was he trying to prove? Can anyone imagine parting from the last meagre sum of money when one is already hungry for some 3-4 days and literally dying of starvation? Would I ever do the same if I ever was in same condition? Sitting comfortably in my chair, surrounded by material things which provide a sense of security, I will perhaps answer ‘yes’. But what, if otherwise? It is too dreadful even to imagine that. Here the author succeeded in shaking me hard and let me to think what this feeling of ‘hunger’ could do to poor, illiterate persons? People who haven’t got the faculty of thinking and whose conscience doesn’t bother them? Wouldn’t it make thieves, murderers and vilest creatures out of them? Thinking such led me to ponder upon another form of ‘hunger’, a ‘hunger’ of acknowledgement, of empathy, of the feeling of being understood and loved and cared for. What if this necessity to be understood by someone, to be able to talk to someone and to express one’s innermost feelings is suppressed by the pressure of earning a living, by the load of expectations of people around, by the every day’s struggle to assert an existence in the world? What all can happen then? Perhaps, it can lead to a state of insanity or perhaps the person, intoxicated by the fever of these pressures; succumb to one moment’s whim hence by turning into a vile character. Aren’t a large number of crimes that we witness, somehow a result of this ‘hunger’? Towards the end, even our virtuous hero, succumb to unbearable hunger and harasses the same cake seller for some cakes, which he could eat and thus satisfy his hunger. His salvation comes in the end when he gets a job at a ship which is about to sail soon. Does the author gives hope toward the end or does he place a big question mark before us? I would let you to ponder upon that. But it is definitely not one easy read. It engrossed me into reading it in single sitting and didn't let me even budge or take my eyes off awhile. Its style reminded me of Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” and hence made a lasting impression upon me. Highly recommended!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mariel

    I have a confession to make. Well, it's not really a confession if I've alluded to it in the past. I'm cheap. I spend freely, I mean, and it doesn't take much convincing for me to go ahead and make some purchase (especially if it's a book) when I really shouldn't. Don't ever take me shopping in hopes that I'll convince you not to make that purchase, either. So I downloaded the free kindle version of this. I have too many books and I do that shit anyway. I think there's something wrong with the k I have a confession to make. Well, it's not really a confession if I've alluded to it in the past. I'm cheap. I spend freely, I mean, and it doesn't take much convincing for me to go ahead and make some purchase (especially if it's a book) when I really shouldn't. Don't ever take me shopping in hopes that I'll convince you not to make that purchase, either. So I downloaded the free kindle version of this. I have too many books and I do that shit anyway. I think there's something wrong with the kindle version. I don't care about the errors (I don't notice a lot of grammatical errors anyway. "Blank author breaks all of the cardinal rules of writing you say? There are cardinal rules? I didn't notice!" and stuff like that). I mean there's a weird bit of dialogue towards the end that summarizes the whole book in one sentence. It seemed really out of place. I read there is some long standing heated debate between these guys that hang out in bars and coffee places and talk about books. "No, I like translation number one the best!" The second guy prefers number two and the third guy prefers number three. I don't know which this is. It seemed really, really out of place (the more that I think about it the reallys add up). Hunger is pretty perfect no matter what else you do to it. The following sentence should have gone back to the beginning like a never ending time loop. Maybe I'm not a shark who must keep on swimming in the sub-frozen subhuman subterranean depths lest I realize I've eaten every opportunity ever put on a plate before me. Don't speak up, speak down to the side, to the cracks in the next sidewalk and the next sidewalk until everything good is gone. It's not too late and I didn't just fuck up everything. Oh wait, I did. Hunger is the gnawing belly of the brain. Hunger and never growing pains. That guy will help me! That guy won't help. I just remembered... I left that miracle salvation in the other coat pocket. It's not really a confession if I've said it before. I talk to myself all of the time too. If Hell is made up of rings it is because it's circular. I've seen some times in life, and on goodreads (that's not life?), this argument that some such author was a misogynist or some such other author was a racist or hate Jews because they were a product of their times. Stamped out and rolled out on the conveyor belt, all with their set mental conditions timed to go off and implode at collective times? Don't ask them to step out of time and fancy feet with you. Shake them by the shoulders. How could you? Didn't you read? Didn't you know there was more than that? Haven't they met some such bigots walking tall or hiding in the grass on their own strolls? I grew up listening to my grandfather's meant to be amusingly colorful tales from military reform school about "rolling queers". I cried and cried. That person is fodder for years of therapy. It was by no means the only thing about him that he was a racist (he was quite Bill Cosbyish at times, despite mouth frothing loathing the man). I had other family members with their own shades of some shitty human excuse to feel better than other people based on something no one could help, have met other people doing the same. Isn't it always? I generally think that people should read more books to cure this. That couldn't have been Knut Hamsun's problem. He wrote Hunger. He could not have had any problem walking in someone else's shoes with all of those pebbles they can never seem to shake out of the gaping holes. Well, I don't think he did anything other than support the Nazis? One certainly didn't have to hate Jews to do some Princess Leia's home planet crying out at once mass murder. Hey, they did it for their career advancement. Hunger isn't a tribute to Goebbels (it was written in 1890?). I don't know what it is a tribute to except thinking that there's room between all of the colliding thoughts that trap someone in their fucking awful routines. Sumo wrestler sandwich. I'm not hungry. I look at it as the other side of the wormy part of the brain that thinks it's the best thing out there. (Eugenics is STILL the rage. People think that genetically selecting their babies to not be girls or to be pretty is an okay thing to do. Product of what times???) You could clean out the worms, eat them, vomit them and do something better than "Some of my best friends are black!" Confessions, confessions. If you're gonna shake someone to see what comes lose. It's the hope of getting some sense. I don't feel like writing off with "product of their times". Hunger doesn't write off. It walks and it hops trains (doesn't pay for the ticket).

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rowena

    Very reminiscent of a couple of books I have already read, including Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London." Very dire account of a starving writer trying to find work and food at the same time. Especially interesting to me was the fact that the protagonist still valued maintaining his dignity over everything else. His interior dialogue was definitely reminiscent of Job speaking to God in the Old Testament. I liked the archaic style the book was written in. Case in point was the word "zound Very reminiscent of a couple of books I have already read, including Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London." Very dire account of a starving writer trying to find work and food at the same time. Especially interesting to me was the fact that the protagonist still valued maintaining his dignity over everything else. His interior dialogue was definitely reminiscent of Job speaking to God in the Old Testament. I liked the archaic style the book was written in. Case in point was the word "zounds" which I wish could find its way back into common English usage :) This is a book which is worthy of a re-read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Henry Martin

    Hunger is, in my opinion, the most important work of "psychological realism" of all times. When I first read it, I fell in love with Hamsun's style, but it was the second and the third reading that pushed me over the edge, slipping into the realm of mind, walking the streets with Hamsun, shivering in the cold and hurting from the hunger. Hunger both for food and for a human touch, living outside the society both due to his situation and by choice to strive for the pure and unconditional self-dis Hunger is, in my opinion, the most important work of "psychological realism" of all times. When I first read it, I fell in love with Hamsun's style, but it was the second and the third reading that pushed me over the edge, slipping into the realm of mind, walking the streets with Hamsun, shivering in the cold and hurting from the hunger. Hunger both for food and for a human touch, living outside the society both due to his situation and by choice to strive for the pure and unconditional self-discovery. Love, hate, shame and joy, the emotions portrayed in this work are so vivid that will leave their mark on you well after the last page is read and the book is closed, calling you to pick it up from the shelve and read it again. It was Hunger what gave me the courage to write in first-person, exploring the depths of mind, regardless of the external action the character may be involved in, and for this, I will forever be grateful. A must read for anyone who enjoys fine literature and is not afraid to go deep into the mind of the protagonist. A mind struggling to create, while seeing beauty and grandiose ideas in the most common of things.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ian "Marvin" Graye

    Hunger Eats the Soul This is not so much the story of the rise and fall of a young man (published in 1890), as one of his relentless physical and spiritual decline. He never seems to have risen in the first place, and his fall seems to be unimpeded, even though momentarily it seemed that love might redeem him. In the absence of consummation, hope or redemption, the novel eschews any dramatic tension that an Aristotelian three act structure might offer, and simply plummets downwards. Early, the prota Hunger Eats the Soul This is not so much the story of the rise and fall of a young man (published in 1890), as one of his relentless physical and spiritual decline. He never seems to have risen in the first place, and his fall seems to be unimpeded, even though momentarily it seemed that love might redeem him. In the absence of consummation, hope or redemption, the novel eschews any dramatic tension that an Aristotelian three act structure might offer, and simply plummets downwards. Early, the protagonist announces: "Elated with a sense of fulfillment and puffed up with joy, I feel on top of the world." Later he is possessed by "a most violent frenzy" (1), "bursting with impotent hatred and carried away with rage". He turns his back on God and "The Sign of the Cross" and complains, "Did you frame my heart in your sleep?" What is the Objective? Set in an Oslo rebadged as Kristiania (from 1877 to 1925), it seems to be a warning that hunger, deprivation, suffering and hopelessness can occur in the heart of Christendom, that everybody is responsible for their own well-being, that there are no safety nets. Only the poignancy of the message derives not so much from a sympathy for what would become known as Social Democracy or the Welfare State, but a worldview that would later emerge in the philosophy of Ayn Rand, Objectivism. At one point, the protagonist mistakenly dates a job application "1848" (possibly a reversal of 1884?), the Spring of Nations or Year of Revolutions for many European nations (but not Norway). Are we meant to infer that any juvenile support of Socialism will be punished? So, as per Ayn Rand, you are responsible for feeding yourself, and if you fail to, you have only yourself to blame, even in a nominally Christian society. Perhaps, God helps only those who help themselves. Or in the words of Euripides: "Try first thyself, and after call in God; For to the worker God himself lends aid." Only here God doesn’t lend aid. Instead: "God had stuck his finger down into the network of my nerves and gently, quite casually, brought a little confusion among the threads." "A Very Important Point in My Allegory" At least, the protagonist (also the first person narrator) doesn’t die. While much of the story is in the present tense, for immediacy, it is told in retrospect, so we know he survives his ordeal, only apart from the fact that he embarks on a voyage or escape from damnation, we don’t know what becomes of him or how or why (except perhaps that one day he returned to Kristiania, "where the windows shone so brightly in every home," secure in God’s love). There is no uplifting moral within the fabric of the novel, only a one-dimensional lesson in aversion. Ultimately, even if the language is strikingly modern and beautiful, it’s a very grim fairy tale. Footnote: (1) I swear that even after several edits of this review, I didn't notice that I had typed "a most violent frenzy" as "a moist violet frenzy".

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rod

    I'm pretty lucky, I guess; I've been middle-class all my life, never had to worry about where my next meal was coming from or if there would be a next meal. I've never known starvation, despite saying stuff like "I'm starving!" when it's a half-hour past lunchtime and I haven't eaten yet. So why do I identify with the undernourished protagonist of Hunger so strongly? Perhaps it's because I'm an introvert; like the protagonist, I sometimes have internal conversations with myself in the third pers I'm pretty lucky, I guess; I've been middle-class all my life, never had to worry about where my next meal was coming from or if there would be a next meal. I've never known starvation, despite saying stuff like "I'm starving!" when it's a half-hour past lunchtime and I haven't eaten yet. So why do I identify with the undernourished protagonist of Hunger so strongly? Perhaps it's because I'm an introvert; like the protagonist, I sometimes have internal conversations with myself in the third person, or refer to myself (internally) as "we," or say "Let's go" to myself when there's no one else around. I also tend to superstitiously keep an antennae out for signs from the universe when making inconsequential decisions ("Hmm, Nature's Own bread or Pepperidge Farm? Hey, that kid just dropped a container of pepper. Pepperidge Farm it is!"). And sometimes I shake my fist (figuratively speaking) at God or the Universe or the Fates or whoever it is throwing me curveballs in life and probably having a good ol' time watching the results. Alright, so these are personality quirks, minor neuroses, subconscious whatevers that really don't do me any harm because my conscious mind is able to say "That's ridiculous" and move on. Hunger's protagonist, I think, for whatever reason, lacks that filter. He is so in tune with his own subconscious that he allows his subconscious to essentially do the driving. His rational, conscious mind watches himself from the outside as his subconscious makes him do things that he knows knows are ridiculous or harmful, but he can't help himself. He is his own audience surrogate; the observer and the observed. It is the lucid conscious mind that communicates with us, sidling up next to us, crossing its arms and shaking its head, good-naturedly lamenting, "Get a load of this guy, will you? What in the world is he thinking? What'll he do next?" We're both just here to watch the show, me and him, and the subconscious is the star. It is this convivial tone that keeps this book from being a descent into the dark murkiness of a tortured soul. Despite the Time Out quote on the cover of my edition that states, "One of the most disturbing novels in existence," it is not unremittingly bleak, as I was expecting. The tone is surprisingly lighthearted and humorous. The narrator certainly lives a grim existence, but he never feels sorry for himself, so neither do we. The fact that Hamsun never allows him to merely languish in self-pity is the source of it's great power. If this desperate, blighted man still has hope, then that certainly offers some hope to the rest of us.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Hend

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I can now eat without feeling guilty anymore :) What is really fascinating in this novel is how the protagonist try to maintain his dignity until the last breath, Although at some times his disparate need to eat make him lose dignity,gradually and cursing his fate and looking down at himself and feeling inferior because of the fact he is poor and that he can do nothing to change it….. It explores the depths of the human soul against the bitterness of hunger which could push someone to the borders of I can now eat without feeling guilty anymore :) What is really fascinating in this novel is how the protagonist try to maintain his dignity until the last breath, Although at some times his disparate need to eat make him lose dignity,gradually and cursing his fate and looking down at himself and feeling inferior because of the fact he is poor and that he can do nothing to change it….. It explores the depths of the human soul against the bitterness of hunger which could push someone to the borders of madness and delirium, and death and doubt in God...... This novel is very confusing for me...... The interior dialogue between one part of his psyche and the other..... So many fantasies ,passion and psychological conflict…… make it so strange… but unique at the same time….. the question this novel raise for me.is what is the root of all evil? What make a person good or evil? Here in this novel, the protagonist was feeling guilty stealing money,when he was about to die from hunger,and didn’t find his peace until he get rid of that money.....…. He wasn’t intending to steal but ,he was having bitter regret for doing it…. Even his need to survive on the least basic level,didn’t consilodate him… his devastating and miserable situation ,didn’t give him an excuse to leave his morals and principles….. He found his peace in doing what he feel is right….. Are humans good or evil by nature? It is not the environment he is living in, the bad situation,not his spiritual believes,there are a lot of atheist who have principles and values in their life… What is it then that make a person good or bad even in the worst situations….? The last scene the narrator is leaving the City of Kristiania,may be he wanted to say that ,he could find a better luck in another city,and that it is not his fault..... And the problem is that the people there is less merciful…and he cant deal with them anymore…

  16. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight’s contest is a tag team wrestling match between, in the blue corner, reigning champions The Backstabbing Haystacks, and in the red corner the fearsome Intestines R Us – ladeeeeeeeez and gentlemen let me introduce you to the members of the teams, in the Backstabbing Haystacks we have from Norway the unnamed protagonist of Knut Hamsen’s much-praised novel of terminal anomie Hunger, so I give you Mr Anonymous Hunger (applause, hoots, burgers thrown into the ring); and Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight’s contest is a tag team wrestling match between, in the blue corner, reigning champions The Backstabbing Haystacks, and in the red corner the fearsome Intestines R Us – ladeeeeeeeez and gentlemen let me introduce you to the members of the teams, in the Backstabbing Haystacks we have from Norway the unnamed protagonist of Knut Hamsen’s much-praised novel of terminal anomie Hunger, so I give you Mr Anonymous Hunger (applause, hoots, burgers thrown into the ring); and his team-mate the also unnamed protagonist from Jose Saramago’s also much-praised examination of the fragility of human society, Blindness – I give you from Portugal, near Spain, Doctor Dark (applause, sunglasses thrown into ring). Now Intestines R Us in the Red corner, we have Bruno, the damaged loner from Michel Houellebecq’s searing account of modern sexual disgust Les Particules élémentaires (mild applause, condoms thrown into the ring) and his very popular team-mate Ivan Denisovich who needs no further introduction (big cheers, copies of Stalin’s complete works thrown into the ring). Referee : Blah blah blah – okay, boys, get stuck in. Bell : Tingaling ! The guy from Hunger and Bruno from Les Particules élémentaires step into the ring. The guy from Hunger immediately collapses and moans feebly. Bruno looks at him with disgust. He picks up an arm and drops it. It flops back onto the canvas. Crowd : Murder him ! Bruno : C'est une plaisanterie cruelle. Cet homme est à moitié mort. Et suis ainsi je, les amis. Guy from Hunger : Uhhhh. Uhhh. Crowd : Baisez cette merde – kill him! (Pamphlets pointing out the shortcomings of modern literature and the bankrupt imagination of Western intellectuals are thrown into the ring. Meanwhile the other tag team members outside the ring appear to have died.)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    A troubling mix of Dostoyevsky (especially Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment) and George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London. Describing a time of poverty and starvation from an unnamed narrator who is some kind of intellectual, a writer or journalist, Hamsun explores the hunger of not just his physical needs but of his spiritual and psychological angst as he is rejected (or intentionally self-exiled) by society. Hamsun’s protagonist goes through a hell of self-doubt and existential enn A troubling mix of Dostoyevsky (especially Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment) and George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London. Describing a time of poverty and starvation from an unnamed narrator who is some kind of intellectual, a writer or journalist, Hamsun explores the hunger of not just his physical needs but of his spiritual and psychological angst as he is rejected (or intentionally self-exiled) by society. Hamsun’s protagonist goes through a hell of self-doubt and existential ennui. Yet this lacks the over-the-top descriptive force of the Russian and instead focuses on an introspective examination of his inner workings and musings. Besides Crime and Punishment I also thought of Notes from Underground. My greatest mistake with this work was to learn more about Hamsun while reading. Turns out this Norwegian was a proponent of National Socialism and was openly favorable towards Hitler and his policies and was thus later ostracized by his countrymen and this position led me towards consternation. While reading this short novel first published in 1890, I was searching for clues as to the same thought process that would half a century later like Nazis. Still an important work of modern literature and worth reading.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    He sure would like a meal, yes, but more so, why won’t anybody listen? What the hell is wrong with everyone? None of them are truly getting it. They don’t understand the urgency! Look at them in their warm clothes and their comfortable houses. Why do their eyes laugh at him? Is there nothing left but mockery? I wonder how he came to be in such circumstances. What led to this downward spiral? Even if I could ask him, could he even explain it? None of us can pinpoint the moment when it all started He sure would like a meal, yes, but more so, why won’t anybody listen? What the hell is wrong with everyone? None of them are truly getting it. They don’t understand the urgency! Look at them in their warm clothes and their comfortable houses. Why do their eyes laugh at him? Is there nothing left but mockery? I wonder how he came to be in such circumstances. What led to this downward spiral? Even if I could ask him, could he even explain it? None of us can pinpoint the moment when it all started going south for us, can we? By the time we notice, it’s too late. Perhaps he was thriving once, confident, even maybe happy. But, maybe not. Maybe he was always fragile, too sensitive and just a little bit skewed. Was this madness always lurking? Those of us driven to the edge probably always had the capability of it all along, right? Or, not. Maybe things really can be wonderful and all it takes is some bad luck to start muddling the brain and before you know it everybody is slightly out of focus and faraway and days fall away quickly like little dreams and things become cold and small and there’s nothing left but darkness. Maybe we are all one bad day away from being lost. Or maybe when we become so emptied of nourishment and comfort and hope that we revert back to our simplest animalistic form, never to return. Or maybe the joke is on us. He turned up his nose at food, refused money. What was that about? Such senseless choices. Because he was already too far gone? Or did he know what he was doing all along? Maybe I better go eat something…

  19. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    Introduction Suggestions for Further Reading Translator's Note --Hunger Explanatory Notes Textual Notes

  20. 4 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    By Jove! This novel is beautifully depressing! It is beautiful because of the way it is written: magical stream-of-consciousness style with the meager plot and with no misplaced or excess words at all! It is depressing because of the theme: hunger. It is not hunger for love or something. It is the hunger that most Filipinos know: hunger for food. The novel, originally written in German and first published in 1890, revolves around a struggling writer in Christiana (now Oslo). Herr Hamsun did not n By Jove! This novel is beautifully depressing! It is beautiful because of the way it is written: magical stream-of-consciousness style with the meager plot and with no misplaced or excess words at all! It is depressing because of the theme: hunger. It is not hunger for love or something. It is the hunger that most Filipinos know: hunger for food. The novel, originally written in German and first published in 1890, revolves around a struggling writer in Christiana (now Oslo). Herr Hamsun did not name the writer but during his first apprehension as a street vagrant, he falsely give his name as Tangen. The story tells us about his bouts of hunger. The story started with him owing rent for his room. His application to become a bookkeeper was turned down because he dated his letter wrongly (because he was hallucinating due to hunger). In haste, he wrote an article and submitted it to the newspaper editor. While waiting, he was kicked out by his landlady. His article got published for few shillings but was enough to feed him for just few days. He slept in the park, cemetery, train station, etc until his next article gets published. That cycle was repeated a number of times until the end when he opted to leave Christiana for an unknown destination. The minor characters are interesting and Tangen's interactions with them bring out the beauty of Tangen's true character: that despite being poor, Tangen has a heart of gold. I am not saying that he is Gandhi-like as there were scenes that shows he is not: those because of hunger, he chewed off the wooden post of his former apartment, bit his finger or in that ultimate shocker when he tried to eat pieces of raw meat clinging on the scrap bone he begged from the abattoir. At one time, he even questioned and cursed God for his miserable life. However, when he has money, no matter how meager, he makes sure that he gives some to people who asked for help. He even had the time for love. A rich lady got interested on him as she thought that he was only not too careful about his appearance but not as poor as what he is in reality. However, Tangen maybe poor in terms of money but he is rich in talent and creativity and in the end we know that wherever he will go, he would have a rich life ahead of him. That hope is what made made this a worthwhile read. This novel is said to be semi-autobiographical. Knut Hamsun also stayed in Oslo and later migrated to the US. He went back to Oslo as poor as when he first left it. However, Knut Hamsun (born in Norway) is now considered as one of the best European modernist authors and his stream-of-consciousness style was later adapted and popularized by Henry James, William Faulkner and Virginia Woolf. How is that for an original style?

  21. 4 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    “I was on the verge of crying with grief at still being alive.” It’s sometimes hard to separate the work from the author, of course; the list of examples is long and troubling, including Wagner’s and Heidegger’s Nazi sympathies, and oh, an increasing number of male writers we now see as misogynist. I read Knut Hamsun’s Hunger first when I was 20, not knowing anything about him, and I was moved by this story of a starving artist driven to madness. I saw it then as I do now as connected to Dostoev “I was on the verge of crying with grief at still being alive.” It’s sometimes hard to separate the work from the author, of course; the list of examples is long and troubling, including Wagner’s and Heidegger’s Nazi sympathies, and oh, an increasing number of male writers we now see as misogynist. I read Knut Hamsun’s Hunger first when I was 20, not knowing anything about him, and I was moved by this story of a starving artist driven to madness. I saw it then as I do now as connected to Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov, Kafka’s “The Hunger Artist,” and Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London. What does it mean to be poor and hungry, without a social safety net? Hamsun writes a story of psychological collapse, though the hallucinations he experiences from lack of food and water, that can also be seen as much as a physiological study of hunger. “I was conscious all the time that I was following mad whims without being able to do anything about it. . . Despite my alienation from myself at that moment, and even though I was nothing but a battleground for invisible forces, I was aware of every detail of what was going on around me.” It is a sad and troubling story. As with Raskolnikov, there are people who reach out to him, including an also poor woman who falls in love with him (though for reasons in both cases that are by no means obvious). Reportedly based on Hamsun’s own early experiences as a writer with poverty, hunger, and madness, the novel was his first, published in 1890 and was not typical of his later work at all; Hamsun was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1920, but it was probably more works such as his popular romantic/nature novel, Growth of the Soil. Like him or not, Hunger is a kind of poetic portrait of darkness: “I see stars before my eyes, and my thoughts are swept up into a hurricane of light.” “And the great spirit of darkness spread a shroud over me. . . everything was silent--everything. But upon the heights soughed the everlasting song, the voice of the air, the distant, toneless humming which is never silent.” So okay, I say this is a pretty good book, one of the central “sad boy” books of the modern period, from Dostoevsky through Camus. (Ennui, despair, existentialism, hurrah!). Hamsun, I grew to learn, was known to be an abusive husband and father, a fascist, anti-Semite, racist (after a visit to the US, he was particularly vicious about blacks). Yet I thought I would after several decades reread the book, to see how it held up, hearing some critical reassessment that sought to say the book was great, while acknowledging all this disturbing stuff about him. But okay: After I wrote my initial review I saw this that I copy from David’s review: In a Norwegian op-ed in 1945, Mr. Hamsun wrote of Adolf Hitler, “He was a warrior, a warrior for mankind, and a prophet of the gospel of justice for all nations.” (Sounds like Fox State News or Pence on Trump, David! Not in 1938, even, but 1945?!) Also from David: “Seven hundred Norwegian Jews were eradicated in the latter stages of WWII. “ {No words).One last detail from David:After accepting the Nobel Prize in Literature, Knut Hamsun immediately gifted the trophy to his friend and admirer, Joseph Goebbels.(Ouch. A clear signal of a vicious anti-Semite)And yet, the novel, in depicting an artist on the edge of starvation is compelling and frightening: Paranoia, despair, madness. In 1890, it was a new kind of novel, and powerful, and I’ll say it is pretty powerful still. Not quite the level of Dostoevsky, Kafka or Camus, but he’s in the conversation, part of the wave of depictions of sad, lost modern men.“My head was emptying and emptying, and in the end it sat light and void on my shoulders. I perceived this gaping emptiness in my head with my whole body, I felt hollowed out from top to toe.”“The dark monsters out there would suck me up when night came on, and they would carry me far across the sea and through strange lands where no humans lived.” flag 36 likes · Like  · see review View all 8 comments Mar 17, 2018 Edward rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition Shelves: 2018, literary-fiction, nobel-winners Hunger is a powerful psychological exploration of the cycles of poverty, as well as being simply an entertaining read. The writing style feels almost contemporary. It is perceptive, narrated in a lively voice, and the use of stream of consciousness was ahead of its time. My criticism is as follows: I found it difficult to extract much that is universal to the experience of poverty and hunger, because Hamsun’s protagonist is really such an oddball, and much of his suffering is self-inflicted. Tho Hunger is a powerful psychological exploration of the cycles of poverty, as well as being simply an entertaining read. The writing style feels almost contemporary. It is perceptive, narrated in a lively voice, and the use of stream of consciousness was ahead of its time. My criticism is as follows: I found it difficult to extract much that is universal to the experience of poverty and hunger, because Hamsun’s protagonist is really such an oddball, and much of his suffering is self-inflicted. Though he does live by certain admirable values, they are usually severely misguided, and his grip on reality is tenuous. Though these traits make for an entertaining story, I did feel that they detracted from the seriousness of his experience. There are many episodes in the book that highlight the tensions of poverty: the loss of social standing, and the sacrifice of dignity that comes with accepting charity, for example. These are perceptive, but are often undermined by the incongruous actions of the protagonist. It is difficult as a reader to sympathise with him. The humour to some extent also serves to romanticise and even trivialise the experience. We really don’t get to feel the desperation and torment that someone in this position must certainly feel. At times, it is almost a parody.But I think this romanticised view of poverty is also part of this novel’s charm. Not everything needs to be serious, and I don’t mean to overstate the novel's shortcomings, as I probably have, above. I really did enjoy reading Hunger. It is perhaps a result of its own influence that the novel, for me, has lost some of its power. I felt that I had already experienced something similar in the later novels of Orwell, Solzhenitsyn, Céline, and Beckett. flag 31 likes · Like  · see review View all 9 comments Apr 01, 2012 Kris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition Recommended to Kris by: s.penkevich Shelves: norway, 1001, classics, five-stars, fiction Wow. That was powerful. I have to write a lot of reviews this weekend - this will be one of them.I find it ironic that I read this while the RNC circus is going on in FL. I wish I could force everyone there to read this book and live it. just for a short while. flag 31 likes · Like  · see review View all 30 comments Jul 07, 2019 Hugh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition Shelves: read-2019, translations, classics It is easy to see why Hamsun, and this book in particular, is seen as so influential, despite his later support for the Nazis, which is difficult for a modern reader to ignore. His account of a struggling writer attempting to survive in Oslo (Christiania) by selling occasional articles to a newspaper seems very modern for a book first published in 1890. Much of the time he quite literally has no money, so he is at constant risk of becoming homeless and is subject to frequent and dramatic mood sw It is easy to see why Hamsun, and this book in particular, is seen as so influential, despite his later support for the Nazis, which is difficult for a modern reader to ignore. His account of a struggling writer attempting to survive in Oslo (Christiania) by selling occasional articles to a newspaper seems very modern for a book first published in 1890. Much of the time he quite literally has no money, so he is at constant risk of becoming homeless and is subject to frequent and dramatic mood swings verging on madness. So the hunger of the title is real, and at least partly reflects Hamsun's own younger self. He compounds his predicament with pride - whenever he does have money he overpays his debts and loses it very quickly, and he is too proud to submit work which may be popular but has no intellectual value.An impressive book, but never a comfortable read. flag 31 likes · Like  · see review View all 4 comments Feb 15, 2017 Chris_P rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition Shelves: classics-and-modern-classics I am tempted to write that it's a book about the adventures of a destitute man wandering the streets of Christiania, but that wouldn't do. See, there is a pleasantness implied in the word "adventures". An unspoken promise of a happy end behind every setback, no matter how difficult. But no, there is nothing pleasant in destitution. No promise that tomorrow there'll be a happy turn of events. Only hope. A hope which, more often than not, simply dies unfulfilled as another day goes by without so m I am tempted to write that it's a book about the adventures of a destitute man wandering the streets of Christiania, but that wouldn't do. See, there is a pleasantness implied in the word "adventures". An unspoken promise of a happy end behind every setback, no matter how difficult. But no, there is nothing pleasant in destitution. No promise that tomorrow there'll be a happy turn of events. Only hope. A hope which, more often than not, simply dies unfulfilled as another day goes by without so much as a hint of a change. Hamsun doesn't sugarcoat the situation. His unnamed hero, in spite of his ever-present hunger, struggles to maintain his pride and not let his constant degradation take its toll on him. He fights to preserve his last inch of dignity on which he keeps clinging as if it's more important, more vital than food itself. And in so many ways, it is. A painfully realistic story, told in a manner that leaves no room for rationalizations. A book that's hard to put down, but also hard to swallow since the comfort of your home may seem like it's about to crash upon you as you read it. The protagonist is not a beggar, nor is he some uneducated sloth who brought his fate upon him. He is simply the victim of circumstances. Despite what some people think, there is no real fairness in the world and sometimes the "look for job->find a job->be worthy->make a living" pattern simply is not the case.No matter how much technology may advance or how many centuries may pass, there is one thing that will remain the same forever and that is poverty. As long as money defines the life standards of human beings, books like Hunger will never seem dated. flag 29 likes · Like  · see review Dec 14, 2016 Steven Godin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition Shelves: classic-fiction, scandinavia-iceland The bewildering protagonist of Hamsun's 1890 novel is living and failing dismally in an unforgiving place, Kristiania (Oslo), that strange city no one escapes from until it has left its mark. As a writer, he tries to write, but no one really wants to pay him except the occasional kindly newspaper editor, so he has fallen into destitution and is half starved to death. The novel, psychologically processes the exploration of the human spirit, and follows our wanderer as he simply travels around the The bewildering protagonist of Hamsun's 1890 novel is living and failing dismally in an unforgiving place, Kristiania (Oslo), that strange city no one escapes from until it has left its mark. As a writer, he tries to write, but no one really wants to pay him except the occasional kindly newspaper editor, so he has fallen into destitution and is half starved to death. The novel, psychologically processes the exploration of the human spirit, and follows our wanderer as he simply travels around the city trying to survive. He is in a heightened, almost hysterical state, intensely alert to the suffering of those around him as well as nearly demolished by his own predicament. He is quite childlike in a way, because he refuses to adopt the ordinary disguises. So he disconcerts women with the force and honesty of his protestations of love, or works away feverishly on vast rambling articles presenting his philosophy, which no editor published. I found it funny in places, dark in others, and sometimes poignant. All the time you have a sense that he's being exceptionally honest, because he has nothing to lose. Hamsun was expressing a sense of acute isolation, both his protagonist's and his own self. This is undoubtedly a seminal book, one of the most important novels ever written, however, I have read other Hamsun novels and felt they were written better, this felt a little less imposing, but still, it's of those books that simply has to read. flag 30 likes · Like  · see review View 2 comments Dec 04, 2017 Betsy Robinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition Recommended to Betsy by: Lynne King Almost from page one of this Nobel Prize-winning novel, first published in 1890, I had to remind myself that I'm (1) sane, (2) have always been financially responsible, and (3) am not homeless. This story of a destitute writer is my worst writer's nightmare, and probably the worst nightmare of many people who work in the arts. I've known so many unsuccessful, desperate, bitter artiste-victims and Hamsun's depiction of the first-person protagonist is flawless. He vacillates from arrogance and gra Almost from page one of this Nobel Prize-winning novel, first published in 1890, I had to remind myself that I'm (1) sane, (2) have always been financially responsible, and (3) am not homeless. This story of a destitute writer is my worst writer's nightmare, and probably the worst nightmare of many people who work in the arts. I've known so many unsuccessful, desperate, bitter artiste-victims and Hamsun's depiction of the first-person protagonist is flawless. He vacillates from arrogance and grandiosity to self-loathing and worthlessness. The portrayal of hunger—how it erodes the mind so we quickly slide into a paranoiac or euphoric fog of fantasy—made reading this agony. But also it gave me a sense of how universal this (ego) hunger is. Sometimes I imagine myself as less than a speck on a huge blue rock spinning in space. It puts things into truer perspective for me. But the fact that in 1890 Knut Hamsun wrote this book that is so vivid that I found myself dizzy, ravenous, and slightly disoriented while reading it in 2017 . . . I don't even know how to express how that rattles me. Nothing has changed. But a man long dead is still affecting those who exist: I and others who recognize ourselves in this horrific huge, little novel. flag 28 likes · Like  · see review View 2 comments May 12, 2013 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition A Kafka theme told in a Dostoevsky voice.This novel reminds me again how thankful I am that I've never had to go to bed hungry once in my life. In the whole of human history, what small percentage of people are able to make that claim? flag 27 likes · Like  · see review Jul 13, 2012 Paul rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition Shelves: scandinavian-novels This is a classic, that I had been looking forward to reading. I thoroughly enjoyed Victoria, one of Hamsun's other novels. Alleged to be the first 20th century novel, employing stream of consciousness; compared to Dostoevsky (the protagonist has been compared to Raskolnikov). It is an account of a starving writer/journalist set in Kristiana (Oslo) at the end of the 19th century. It is pretty much a book of one idea; the aspiring writer who suffers for his art to the point of almost starving to This is a classic, that I had been looking forward to reading. I thoroughly enjoyed Victoria, one of Hamsun's other novels. Alleged to be the first 20th century novel, employing stream of consciousness; compared to Dostoevsky (the protagonist has been compared to Raskolnikov). It is an account of a starving writer/journalist set in Kristiana (Oslo) at the end of the 19th century. It is pretty much a book of one idea; the aspiring writer who suffers for his art to the point of almost starving to death. This affects his mental health and his relationships with those around him. Hunger has been raved about and the reviews on here indicate its popularity and influence.However this did absolutely nothing for me and the main character was just too unlikeable and self-absorbed and spent most of the novel whinging about his situation. He wasn't really an unreliable narrator; an irritating one, certainly. The tortured soul suffering for his calling doesn't impress me in this case as most of the suffering was self inflicted. Humour, madness and absurdity usually do for me and I can think of many novels where they have; but not this one. I don't usually mind novels without a plot, but there usually needs to be something to replace it. Hunger, when it is self inflicted, is not particularly edifying or profound. flag 26 likes · Like  · see review View all 7 comments Aug 13, 2007 Matthew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition A wiser man than me (read: Chris Rock) once said, "If a homeless person has a funny sign, he hasn't been homeless that long. A real homeless person is too hungry to be funny." But what happens when you've just become homeless, when you tell yourself you'll spend just one or two nights outside, before your clothes have become tattered, and before hunger has completely set in? Knut Hamsun's first novel, Hunger, published in 1890, reads like a play-by-play of one man's descent into poverty and insa A wiser man than me (read: Chris Rock) once said, "If a homeless person has a funny sign, he hasn't been homeless that long. A real homeless person is too hungry to be funny." But what happens when you've just become homeless, when you tell yourself you'll spend just one or two nights outside, before your clothes have become tattered, and before hunger has completely set in? Knut Hamsun's first novel, Hunger, published in 1890, reads like a play-by-play of one man's descent into poverty and insanity. Hamsun had grown frustrated at the plot- and character-driven novels of his time, so it's no surprise that there is little pushing this narrative forward (aside from the constant hunger) and that it's populated by forgettable characters that often blur together. Hunger is Hamsun's attempt at a stream-of-consciousness technique that would later be made famous by Joyce, Faulkner, and Woolf; we are trapped in his narrator's head as he is shunned by everyone he knows, as he wanders the deserted city at night, as he hallucinates. It sounds depressing, and it is, but Hamsun's narrator is a likeable - even funny - guy. He's prone to impossible daydreams, fantasies, and sudden surges of compassion, and the entire time, he realizes he's going mad, even accepts it, embraces it, enjoys it. A lot can (and has) been said about the novel's Existentialism and Modernism (with a capital "E" and "M"), but let's not forget that the story works on a human level, too. The image that has stuck with me is this: our hero, trying to make himself presentable, rubbing saliva onto his black pants so that they'll appear shinier. "It was in those days when I wandered about hungry in Kristiania, that strange city which no one leaves before it has set its mark upon him..." flag 25 likes · Like  · see review View all 4 comments « previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 … next »

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