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Pan by Knut Hamsun

Pan (1894)

by Knut Hamsun

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English (13)  Dutch (2)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (17)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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 |
Magical, melancholic, perhaps Hamsun's finest. ( )
  proustitute | Mar 31, 2013 |
Romantic , idealistic .tragic .deep woods ( )
  x57 | Aug 4, 2011 |
Norwegian author Knut Hamsun has created in "Pan" a whimsical, nostalgically dream-like story of strange, quaint characters set against a gorgeous forest background.
In 1853 Norway, outside the town of Sirilund, a young man named Glahn lives in a small hut with his faithful dog Aesop. He lives in harmony with nature, and his lonely life suits him perfectly until he meets a bewitching young girl named Edvarda.

I just loved, loved the descriptions of Glahn's forest. Much of the first third or so of the book is full of them - gorgeous prose and beautiful lines. I kept picturing the wood as something like a fairy-tale Rivendell from the Lord of the Rings movies.
I loved these descriptions so much, it elevated the book an entire star. Without them, I would have been hard pressed to think of anything I liked about this book.

Lately, entirely by chance, I have been reading a lot of those "unique" type of books. J.G. Ballard, "A Clockwork Orange," etc. And I think that I am coming to see that unique and inventive does not always equal an amazing book - at least not in my opinion, it seems.
Well, this was another of those books. Fresh, original, and certainly unique for the time it was written. Does that mean I have to like it? No. As with Ballard and Burgess, I do respect Hamsun's creativity, but I didn't find myself enjoying this book very much.

I'm all for living off the land and respecting nature, but Glahn's connection with the forest got so deep sometimes that it was strange. He thinks of a rock as his friend, and at one point he concentrates very hard on a random twig fallen on the forest floor. He pities it so much for having broken off of its tree, he starts to get teary eyed. Wow.

If Glahn is strange, his lover Edvarda is more on the creepy, obsessive side. When first introduced, she seems to be quite shy, so it's a shock (to both the reader and to Glahn himself) when she brazenly kisses him in front of all her friends, and announces that she doesn't want to chase anyone else. Sneaking about outside people's houses at night seems to be a specialty of hers, and she does it more than once. The first time, she admits to Glahn that she was watching his house all night, saying "Yes, it was me. I was near you once more. I am so fond of you." How very creepy.
After a brief obsessive sort of relationship, Edvarda appears to cast Glahn aside, but we are never really sure. She is selfish and extremely jealous, as well as very unpredictable. She appears to have fallen for another man, but by the end I wasn't really sure. I don't think even she was.

Glahn's other lover, Eva, is a good contrast to Edvarda. The similarity in their names convinced me that the author wrote the two women to be separate versions of each other. Like their names, Eva is simpler and more "normal" than Edvarda.

*Spoilers in this paragraph* I absolutely hated that Glahn would shoot Aesop! It was SO pointless and cruel, and all just to prove a point to Edvarda! I hated him after that, and seriously considered just marking the book 1 star and leaving it.

All in all, I would probably try Hamsun again even though I disliked this book. I really was very impressed with his enchanting descriptions of the woodlands. Before Hamsun became a successful writer, he led a humble life as a farmer, and you can tell that he knows about the beauty of nature. Lucky for him - it really saved this otherwise disappointing book. ( )
1 vote joririchardson | Mar 15, 2011 |
Edición 2 en 1: Pan y Hambre. Después de “Hambre” viene “Pan”…pero no el pan, sino Pan, el personaje de la mitología griega. Esta historia, aunque breve, me pareció mejor lograda que “hambre”, aunque ambas son buenas piezas literarias. Aquí el tema central es el amor no correspondido entre tres personajes, una mujer que ama y no es amada por un hombre que ama y no es amado por una mujer que no ama. El Final aunque predecible es sorpresivo. La asociación con Pan es debida a que el personaje gusta de vivir en el bosque y seducir a las ninfas. ( )
  darioha | Dec 13, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (48 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hamsun, Knutprimary 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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:56 -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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