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Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun
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Growth of the Soil (1917)

by Knut Hamsun

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,337388,855 (4.14)128
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English (32)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (38)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
This book started out as a wonderful tale of 2 misfits but ended up as a boring story that got mired down in endless dreary details. ( )
  Amante | Jul 29, 2016 |
a tiller of the ground, body and soul; a worker on the land without respite.'
By sally tarbox on 2 April 2013
Format: Paperback
For the first couple of pages I didn't think I could get into this style of writing: Hamsun looking on, writing in at times an almost Biblical style, remaining impartial and not voicing his characters' emotions. And yet I quickly realised he was achieving great literature through this simple style, and the people still become vividly and movingly alive.
We begin with Isak's first steps to create a home in the Norwegian wilds:
'The wilderness was inhabited and unrecognizable, a blessing had come upon it, life had arisen there from a long dream, human creatures lived there, children played about the houses. And the forest stretched away, big and kindly, right up to the blue heights.'
He finds a woman, initially a simple soul, whom life gradually makes more complex.
Gradually other settlers move in - the idle, the industrious, the promiscuous; and the self-seeking Oline
'Never in life would she give in and never her match for turning and twisting heaven and earth to a medley of seeming kindness and malice, poison and senseless words.'
One of the most enigmatic characters is Geissler, originally introduced as a decent official with whom Isak has dealings; he helps him at other times and made me wonder if Hamsun was equating him to a divinity ?
'I'm something, I'm the fog as it were, here and there, floating around, sometimes coming like rain on dry ground... There's my son, the lightening'
A beautiful celebration of the rural life:
'Nothing growing there? All things growing there; men and beasts and fruit of the soil. Isak sowing his corn. The evening sunlight falls on the corn that flashes out in an arc from his hand and falls like a dropping of gold to the ground. Here comes Sivert to the harrowing...Forest and field look on. All is majesty and power - a sequence and purpose of things.' ( )
  starbox | Jul 10, 2016 |
Very different from his novel Hunger, here Hamsun has written a sweeping story of one man's accomplishments as a homesteader in northern Norway near the border with Sweden.

Isak, a young and very strong man, with no fear of work, goes looking for a good place to settle. He walks and walks, looking for a place that has everything he needs: water, haying grounds, pasture, areas to farm, timber.

When he finally finds it, he settles in. There is a coastal town a full day's walk away (20 miles? 10 miles?). He puts out word that he needs a woman's help--and lo and behold, Inger comes. She too has no fear of work, and she has a harelip--teased for much of her life, she finds a good man in Isak.

They work, they have several children, Inger is imprisoned for 6 years. Others come and settle the area between their farm Sellanra and the town.

A fascinating story of rural northern Norway in the 2nd half of the 19th century. ( )
  Dreesie | Apr 12, 2016 |
The book describes Norwegian pioneers settling an area of Norway. It is very well written and very moving. ( )
  M_Clark | Mar 12, 2016 |
In the mid-19th century, Isak walks far into the Norwegian wilderness looking for a good piece of land. When he finds it, he builds a hut, clears the trees, and farms the soil. Over the years he is joined by Inger, who becomes his wife, has several children, and builds one of the most impressive farms in the area with his own labor. The story follows the family as more people settle in the area, new technology comes to the farm, the children grow up, and Isak and Inger grow old. While others try to make money quickly and easily and put their own comfort ahead of the needs of their farms, Isak remains dedicated to the traditional values of working the land throughout his life.

I really liked this novel and its nostalgia for a simpler time. I also liked seeing how life gradually changed over time. Isak and Inger are complex characters, but they don’t say much, so it’s left up to the reader to discover them. Their relationship doesn’t look very much like a modern relationship, but I enjoyed watching them interact with each other throughout their lives. This book reminded me of O.E. Rolvaag’s Giants in the Earth and how much I enjoyed that book. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hamsun, Knutprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Angermann, S.Übersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lyngstad, SverreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meyboom, MargarethaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sandmeier, J.Übersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Den långa, långa stigen över myrarna och in i skogarna, vam har trampat den?
The long, long road over the moors and up into the forest--who trod into being first of all?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0394717813, Mass Market Paperback)

The story of an elemental existence in rural Norway.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:03 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The epic novel of man and nature that won its author the Nobel Prize in Literature-the first new English translation since the novel's original publication ninety years ago.

» see all 4 descriptions

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