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Hunger (1890)

by Knut Hamsun

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,7331242,339 (4.03)1 / 304
Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

A must-read for fans of modernist literature, Hunger is a literary tour de force that was influenced equally by Dostoyevsky and Zola but made new by author Knut Hamsun's unique creative approach. The novel details the descent into near-starvation of a young intellectual and the downward spiral of misadventures he encounters in the course of trying to find food.

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Group TopicMessagesLast Message 
 Book talk: Hunger by Knut Hamsun7 unread / 7DinadansFriend, March 2015

» See also 304 mentions

English (108)  Dutch (4)  German (2)  Swedish (2)  Norwegian (2)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Portuguese (1)  Norwegian (Bokmål) (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (123)
Showing 1-5 of 108 (next | show all)
[Hunger] is about a starving writer who is, you guessed it!, hungry. I loved it. The main character is a young man trying to make it as a writer, but he is so poor and unable to find work that pays, that he is literally starving. Instead of writing, he spends much of his time looking for shelter and sustenance, or walking around trying to take his mind off of his hunger. In between, he works on his writing and sometimes comes up small sums of money, either for his work or by accident. He's obviously educated and I wonder why he had no support system at all. It's also clear that some of the people he interacts with have no idea just how close he is to starving to death.

Not much happens in this book. The main character interacts with a few people, but largely the book takes place inside his head and stomach. In some ways, when I reflect back on it, I have a hard time putting my finger on why I liked it so much. I think it's because it was honest, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and because the main character is both maddening and admirable. ( )
  japaul22 | Feb 16, 2024 |
What a rollercoaster! Reading this book took a lot out of me. Not because it's hard to read, but because the main character's (unnamed) constant changes in mood. He'll be riding on clouds at first, then he's acting as if he's the scourge of the earth. You really get caught up in it, and that all points back to the author's ability. The ending was a little abiguous to me, though. I don't like leaving my characters to an uncertain future. ( )
  stargazerfish0 | Jan 13, 2024 |
  RachelGMB | Dec 27, 2023 |
  archivomorero | Aug 20, 2023 |
Really liked the last third of the book. So much so I'm going to try to read some other stuff by him. Read it in the first place because of acknowledgements in a book by Patrick deWitt. I wasn't feeling too well while reading the rest so could have colored my opinion. ( )
  Mcdede | Jul 19, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 108 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (193 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
Leith, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lyngstad, SverreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marken, Amy vanAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Munch, EdvardCover artistsecondary 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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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 ....
I made the most despairing efforts to find a word black enough to characterize this darkness; a word so horribly black that it would darken my lips if I named it.
Everything influenced and distracted me; everything I saw made a fresh impression on me. Flies and tiny mosquitoes stick fast to the paper and disturb me. I blow at them to get rid of them—blow harder and harder; to no purpose, the little pests throw themselves on their backs, make themselves heavy, and fight against me until their slender legs bend. They are not to be moved from the spot; they find something to hook on to, set their heels against a comma or an unevenness in the paper, or stand immovably still until they themselves think fit to go their way.
The only thing that troubled me a little, in spite of the nausea that the thought of food inspired in me, was hunger. I commenced to be sensible of a shameless appetite again; a ravenous lust of food, which grew steadily worse and worse.  It gnawed unmercifully in my breast; carrying on a silent, mysterious work in there. It was as if a score of diminutive gnome-like insects set their heads in one side and gnawed for a little, then laid their heads on the other side and gnawed a little more, then lay quite still for a moment’s space, and then began afresh, boring noiselessly in, and without any haste, and left empty spaces everywhere after them as they went on...
The poor intelligent man is a far nicer observer than the rich intelligent man. The poor man looks about him at every step he takes, listens suspiciously to every word he hears from the people he meets, every step he takes affords in this way a task for his thoughts and feelings—an occupation. He is quick of hearing, and sensitive; he is an experienced man, his soul bears the sears of the fire...
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

A must-read for fans of modernist literature, Hunger is a literary tour de force that was influenced equally by Dostoyevsky and Zola but made new by author Knut Hamsun's unique creative approach. The novel details the descent into near-starvation of a young intellectual and the downward spiral of misadventures he encounters in the course of trying to find food.


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Norwegian title: Sult
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