A new and different spirit is abroad in our country, it isn’t just the farm worker who spends more time than before with his hands in his pockets, it’s everyone, the whole population. The craftsman, the causal labourer, the housemaid, they’ve all assumed an insolent indifference towards promises, agreements and obligations that was unknown and unthinkable in the old days. ("A Word to Us", 1910)
For Hamsun, modern times was synonymous with industrialisation and the rise of the city, at the expense of agriculture and farming.
Many of the values of modern times that he most disliked were associated with America, the culture of speed and superficiality. The essay "Festina lente" (1928) describes these negative values, with the quiet and harmony of the oriental world offered as the ideal.
Sceptical as he was about modern times, Hamsun was also personally fascinated by technological advances. He was among the first to make use of modern methods on the farm at Nørholm, and was the first person in the Eide region to buy a motor car. He did not have a driving license; his wife Marie did the driving, with Hamsun beside her, exhorting her to ever greater speed.