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On Overgrown Paths

1949
 
«On May 26th the chief of police from Arendal came to Nørholm and announced that my wife and I were being placed under house-arrest for a period of 30 days. I had been given no warning of this. As requested, my wife handed over to him my guns. Afterwards I had to write and tell the chief of police that I also had two big handguns used at the last Olympic games in Paris, he could come and fetch them whenever it suited. At the same time I wrote that surely the house-arrest wasn’t meant literally, I had farming tasks to see to all over my farm. Some time afterwards the sheriff arrived from Eide and took away the two handguns.    »

On Overgrown Paths (1949) was written while the 90 year old Hamsun was waiting for the case of his alleged treason to come to court. The book has been called a hybrid, mixing as it does autobiography and fiction.

Narrating in the first person, Hamsun describes events from his arrest in May 1945 up until sentence is passed on him in June 948. He describes encounters with people, his childhood memories, whims, and offers thoughts and reflections on his current situation. Of particular interest is his description of his encounter with Martin from Kløttran, presumed to be a fictional creation, and the last of Hamsun’s wanderer figures.

In its own subtle way, On Overgrown Paths cast considerable doubt over the suggestion that he was suffering from "enduringly weakened mental faculties”.