Any poet knows that a poem is born at the heart of a mood of greater or lesser intensity. A faint sound rises up inside, colours appear before one’s eyes, there is a sense of something moving inside. ("Letter to a German translator", 1908)
Hamsun’s ideas on literature are most clearly articulated in the article "From The Unknown Life of the Mind" (1890), and in the lectures on modern literature delivered in 1891. He is particularly critical of Ibsen’s characters, whom he dismisses as "sawdust dramatised". Hamsun wants more attention paid to the interior life of the characters, and less to inherited traits and environmental influences.
These ideas were given artistic form in Hunger (1890). Elsewhere in his writing Hamsun discusses literary themes, as in his portraits of Strindberg and Bjørnson. He also writes about his own literary processes, for example in the "Letter to a German Translator" (1908). In On Overgrown Paths (1949), the nameless narrator offers several meditations on the artistic process surrounding the creation of the book.