God is forgotten, the mighty dollar has taken his place and the mechanic cannot ease the troubled soul. The road is closed. Under circumstances such as these America only increases speed. America will not stop for anything, it wants to get on, go on, forge a way ahead. Should America turn back? Absolutely not! It simply increases the pace a hundredfold, acts the hurricane and whips life up to a white heat. In Europe nowadays we have the word Americanism, the old days had festina lente. ("Festina lente", 1928)
Hamsun lived in America twice, from 1882 to 1884, and from 1886 to 1888.
In 1889 he published The Cultural Life of Modern America, a book in which he mocked its national politics, its language, its sensationalist press, its analphabetism, literature, art, theatre and its women.
Some 40 years later he again uses America as the basis of criticism, but in the article "Festina lente" (1928) the criticism is directed not only at America but at a general tendency in the spiritual life of the West.
Hamsun’s notion of the tempo and rhythm of modern times was in high degree influenced by his years in America. He offers the example of Oriental values as its opposite. Americanism is synonymous with a modernity directed towards the future, while the East is synonymous with a positive, reactionary mode of being.