So the small town too has its big names, its solid houses with the fine sons and daughters, its immutability and its authority. And the small town is fascinated by its big names and follows their doings with interest, and in so doing the inhabitants are actually ensuring their own welfare, they live in the shelter of power and thrive on it, and that’s the way it should be. (The Women at the Pump, 1920)
The small town is a recurring feature in Hamsun’s writing. It is a central part of Mysteries (1892), The Women at the Pump (1920) and The Ring is Closed (1936).
The description of the small town is often negative, as when it is compared to an ant heap in The Women at the Pump.
A variation on the small-town is the trading-post, which features in Hamsun’s novels set in Nordland. Smaller than a town and more overtly patriarchal in structure, the trading-post has the transparency of the small town as well as its layered organisation.