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Hunger by Knut Hamsun
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Hunger (original 1890; edition 2012)

by Knut Hamsun

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2,910771,982 (4.08)1 / 171
Member:MarSle
Title:Hunger
Authors:Knut Hamsun
Info:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2012), Paperback, 130 pages
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Hunger by Knut Hamsun (1890)

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English (68)  Norwegian (2)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  Portuguese (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (76)
Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
‘Andreas Tangen’ is the fictitious name our nameless protagonist gives to the Officer on Duty the night he finds himself cold, wet, famished, keyless (not to say clueless, and consequently without even a room to go home to) and nearing delirium. His solution? To seek room and board in the city jail whence he can contemplate the rain falling on the outside.


I only recently (July 17) read and reviewed Jack London’s Martin Eden. Knut Hamsun’s semiautobiographical Hunger could well serve as a companion piece to London’s equally semiautobiographical novel. And neither would be out of place sitting alongside Dostoyevsky’s Notes from (the) Underground.


“‘I will read it,’ he (the editor of a city paper in Christiania) said, taking it. ‘Of course everything you write will cost you labor; the only trouble with your work perhaps is excitability. If you could only be a little more composed! There is too much fever all the time. Anyway, I’ll read it.’ Then he turned to his desk work” (p. 95).


Our anonymous protagonist’s “excitability” is quite understandable given his uncertain living conditions and constant state of hunger. And Robert Bly has done an excellent job of translating (I assume) and injecting (I don't assume) that same excitability into Hamsun’s Norwegian prose. For anyone who’s ever been homeless and felt prolonged hunger pangs for the sake of his art (or through the sheer absence of work), Hamsun’s words and Bly’s translation of those words may ring truer than any of us would care to remember. The only thing worse? I can still recall Luis Alberto Urrea’s description (in The Devil’s Highway) of what occurs when people emerge in the Arizona desert after having walked up from Mexico (or from points even further south) … and are out of water. (What happens to the human animal as it passes through the several stages of extreme dehydration is something you may be tempted to read about, but never want to actually witness.)


In any case, our protagonist’s problem is the title of this book — and it never disappears. With hunger, comes a slow insanity. It’s not easy to read about, but both Hamsun and Bly do a superb job of portraying it in all of its insidious glory. This is indeed a case of afflictio gratia artis (suffering for the sake of art).


RRB
09/10/14
Brooklyn, NY

( )
  RussellBittner | Dec 12, 2014 |
ვისაც ფიქრი და სიტყვების თამაშ უყვარს კარგია​ ( )
  buqu | Nov 12, 2014 |
The frenetic story of a young man down on his luck, starving, near homeless, freezing, manic. This is Raskolnikov minus malice, by all accounts a vital stepping stone in the development of modern literature.

I just didn't love it.

Now if I had read this around the same age I was when I read Crime and Punishment, I probably would have loved it, but maybe the romance without finance is a nuisance, to quote a line by Tiny Grimes. The writing is good, compelling even, and the narrator demands both sympathy and revulsion at times, and his exploits both tragic and harrowing.

I just didn't love it.
( )
  wjmcomposer | Nov 5, 2014 |
The frenetic story of a young man down on his luck, starving, near homeless, freezing, manic. This is Raskolnikov minus malice, by all accounts a vital stepping stone in the development of modern literature.

I just didn't love it.

Now if I had read this around the same age I was when I read Crime and Punishment, I probably would have loved it, but maybe the romance without finance is a nuisance, to quote a line by Tiny Grimes. The writing is good, compelling even, and the narrator demands both sympathy and revulsion at times, and his exploits both tragic and harrowing.

I just didn't love it.
( )
  wjmcomposer | Nov 5, 2014 |
The ending was a disappointment. ( )
  ChewDigest | Sep 12, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (66 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Knut Hamsunprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Auster, PaulIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lyngstad, SverreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marken, Amy vanAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Polet, CoraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Worster, W. W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Hunger ( [2001]IMDb)
Sult (1966IMDb)
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It was in those days when I wandered about hungry in Kristiania, that strange city which no one leaves before it has set his mark upon him. . .
Det var i den tid jeg gikk omkring og sultet i Kristiania, denne forunderlige by som ingen forlater før han har fått merker av den ....
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Norwegian title: Sult
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0486431681, Paperback)

This powerful, autobiographical novel by a Nobel Prize-winning author made literary history when it was first published in 1890. A modern classic about a penniless, unemployed young writer, the book paints an unforgettable portrait of a man driven to the edge of self-destruction by forces beyond his control.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:42 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

"Originally published in 1890, this classic of modern literature follows an impoverished Norwegian writer through the streets of Christiania (now Oslo) as he struggles on the edge of starvation. Existing on what little money he makes from selling the occasional article to the local paper, and down to pawning the clothes on his back, the young writer slowly loses control of his reason and begins to slip increasingly into bouts of madness, paranoia, and despair."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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