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Pan : from Lieutenant Thomas Glahn's papers…
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Pan : from Lieutenant Thomas Glahn's papers (1894)

by Knut Hamsun, James Walter McFarlane

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (15)  Dutch (2)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Hamsun is an interesting writer: I adore Hunger, and I thought Growth of the Soil was a solid work well deserving of the accolades it received, but Victoria, on the other hand, was completely forgettable. One thing these books prove is that Hamsun has range as an author, and isn't one of those writers that can only capture a single type of character.

This proven ability is what makes Pan such a confusing work to me, since the two narrative voices in the book are supposed to be distinct but read almost identically. They're so close that it makes you wonder if (warning: spoiler) Glahn wasn't faking his own death with the letter that comprises the last 20 pages of Pan. It's in general hard to get a handle on this short work, as the text quickly makes clear that Glahn isn't mentally stable, and therefore is likely far from a reliable narrator. He sees things, including the god Pan in the forest, he finds himself stranded in fog and ends up in the exact opposite place he intended, sometimes he feels things that aren't there, he flies into a rage for little reason, and he seems to oscillate between some level of social competence (even claiming great insight into the human mind) and total inability to understand what's going on in social situations. The Doctor is worried about him, and for good reason. This makes it continually unclear what amount of Glahn's experiences are rooted in reality and what are figments of his mind or reimagined instances of the real thing, all we know for certain comes from the closing letter of the book, which makes clear that at least a good chunk of what Glahn has told us is a lie.

This isn't the best use of an unreliable narrator I've ever seen (that's Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun), but it is used to illustrate some interesting things. For instance, Pan makes clear that love doesn't cure all, as the love (infatuation) of Glahn seems to accelerate the loss of his mental stability. The blindness caused by his infatuation turns him into a veritable monster at some points, driving him to become a murderer, not only of an innocent person but his loyal dog as well. Pan is a short book, but in a small number of pages Hamsun manages to have Glahn circle the drain a whole bunch of times.

Unfortunately I'd say Pan is one of the lesser Hamsun books I've read, better than Victoria but less than Growth of the Soil and Hunger. ( )
  BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
Magical, melancholic, perhaps Hamsun's finest. ( )
  proustitute | Jul 17, 2014 |
Magical, melancholic, perhaps Hamsun's finest. ( )
  proustitute | Jul 17, 2014 |
As if you needed to revisit it, friends, yet here it is: Hamsun's excruciatingly true-to-life depiction of the exaltation and despair of young love. In his later years, the novelist Anthony Burgess had a pat blurb for certain novels he liked. Of them he would say: "Almost unbearably moving!" That blurb applies perfectly to Pan. This novella is so emotionally affecting! It is so on the money! The reader goes through the entire exhausting emotional cycle here. From initial lusting, to growing interest, to first titallations of physical contact, to record-breaking Olympic coitus, to a sense of routine and boredom, to the first bickerings of leave taking, to heartbreak, heartbreak, heartbreak and yearning that only makes one's suffering worse. The novella is mercifully short--120 pages. I simply can't imagine 300 pages of this. It's brilliance lies in how it neatly crystallizes the entire range of emotions experienced in erotic love affairs. The magnificent heights of lovemaking, the impossible megalomania of it all, to the lowest lows. That it's set in northern Norway and narrated by a man who lives in a bucolic setting with his hunting dog, all that's interesting too. The man, Lt. Glahn, records his trips into the woods to hunt. There's beautiful description of the Norwegian countryside that reminded me of Per Petterson and Hallidór Laxness, though the latter was an Icelander. Glahn's love object is a silly fickle girl-child called Edvarda. My God, the hatred! The vindictiveness they mete out to each other! Finally, the book is about how such "love" changes us forever. It's a life event for which there is no closure. We become, all of us, the walking wounded. Quite a story. Highly recommended. ( )
  William345 | Jun 11, 2014 |
Romantic , idealistic .tragic .deep woods ( )
  x57 | Aug 4, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (48 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hamsun, Knutprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
McFarlane, James Waltermain authorall editionsconfirmed
Lehtonen, JoelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marken, Amy vanAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schuijlenburg, HermineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seeberg, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Törnqvist-Verschuur… MarguériteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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These last few days I have thought and thought of the Nordland summer's endless day.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141180676, Paperback)

First published in 1894, Knut Hamsun's Pan is former lieutenant Thomas Glahn's retrospective narrative of his life and adventures in the Norwegian woods. A man of fascinating complexity, Glahn is in some respects a modern successor to a long line of "superfluous" men in western literature, an heir to Goethe's Werther and the protagonists of Turgenev and Dostoyevsky.

But this portrait of a man rejecting the claims of bourgeois society for a Rousseauian embrace of Nature and Eros, explores the veiled mysteries of the unconscious by means of thoroughly modern techniques. Pan's quasi-musical modulations of pace and rhythm, its haunting use of leitmotifs which contract and distend time, its startling versions of myth and legend, and its ecstatic evocations of nature in its various phases and moods, all attest to the novel's Modernist innovations.

Pan provides a lyrical, yet disturbing analysis of love and the recesses of the psyche. This superb new translation restores the power and virtuosity of Hamsun's original and includes an informative introduction.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:59 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A lone hunter accompanied only by his faithful dog, Aesop, Thomas Glahn roams Norway's northernmost wilds. Living out of a rude hut at the edge of a vast forest, Glahn pursues his solitary existence, hunting and fishing, until the strange girl Edvarda comes into his life. In his 1894 breakthrough novel, Pan, Knut Hamsun provides a lyrical, yet disturbing analysis of love and the dark recesses of the human psyche. Sverre Lyngstad's superb new translation restores the power and virtuosity of Hamsun's original and includes an illuminating introduction and explanatory notes.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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