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Hunger (1890)

by Knut Hamsun

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,0951082,178 (4.05)1 / 277
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Originally published in 1890, this classic of modern literature follows an impoverished Norwegian writer through the streets of Christiania (now Olso) 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.A gripping portrait of an artist struggling for integrity, Hunger mirrors the dire straits of Hamsun's own life when he brought this, his then incomplete first novel, to a publisher in 1888.… (more)
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» See also 277 mentions

English (97)  Norwegian (2)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (2)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (Bokmål) (1)  Portuguese (1)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (108)
Showing 1-5 of 97 (next | show all)
Novel ( )
  jmhdassen | May 8, 2021 |
While it is surprisingly modern for a 19th century novel, this story was a bit esoteric for me. The main driver of the plot is a dynamic in which pride and an arbitrary moral code take precedence over basic sustenance: the protagonist would rather die from starvation than suffer the cognitive dissonance of doing something counter to his self image. But the delirium brought on by his hunger led him to commit erratic acts of self-sabotage that made his story frustrating to get through at times. ( )
  jiyoungh | May 3, 2021 |
Set in 1890 when Hamsun wrote it, the writing bears little of the hallmarks of the writing of this era. There is little plot to speak of and few characters. Our protagonist narrator believes himself to wear the noble title of 'writer' as his occupation, but in reality he is at best a hugely unproductive author of unsolicited newspaper articles. As a result he lives mostly with perpetual hunger, often on the brink of starvation, at which point he regularly cannot keep food down even when he's able to buy some. His hunger drives him to bouts of mania and erratic behaviour, but he's clearly not of sound mind anyway. When he has a little money - which is very much the exception rather than the norm - he is quick to find reason to give part or all of it away. He turns down opportunities for food when he's desperately hungry, and avoids pursuing other avenues for employment where he could receive regular pay.

This is a bleak, bleak novel, and certainly not one I could have continued with had it been longer. The depth of the narrator's poverty is difficult to read about at times. All he possesses in life are the clothes he's standing up on, and even some of those he has to pawn. But it is the mix of this extreme poverty with his crazy behaviour that make his story so desperately frustrating to read about, as he passes over small kindnesses that would make huge differences to his situation.

It is not an enjoyable novel, but there is a certain experience to reading it. It's narrated as bouts of despair bouncing into periods of mania; this mental instability can be exhausting to read (although it's not difficult prose).

3.5 stars - I'm glad I read it, but I certainly won't rush back for a re-read. ( )
  AlisonY | Feb 10, 2021 |
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  MRMP | Jan 9, 2021 |
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  MRMP | Jan 9, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 97 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (218 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hamsun, Knutprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Auster, PaulIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Björkman, EdwinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bly, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chong, W. H.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Egerton, GeorgeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kehlmann, DanielNachwortsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lyngstad, SverreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marken, Amy vanAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nesbø, JoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Polet, CoraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Singer, Isaac BashevisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weibel, SiegfriedÜbersetzersecondary 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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Wikipedia in English (1)

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Originally published in 1890, this classic of modern literature follows an impoverished Norwegian writer through the streets of Christiania (now Olso) 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.A gripping portrait of an artist struggling for integrity, Hunger mirrors the dire straits of Hamsun's own life when he brought this, his then incomplete first novel, to a publisher in 1888.

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Norwegian title: Sult
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