The novel describes how Isak and Inger build the farm Sellanraa in the middle of the rugged Nordland landscape, where humans and animals live their lives in harmony with nature. And yet with its threshing machines and telegraph lines and its income from the mining business the farm is dependent on modern society.
On its appearance Growth of the Soil earns the praise of every political camp as a message of peace and self-sufficiency in a time characterized by war and tension. The novel is seen as a national epic, with Hamsun taking the role of literary leader figure. Today the novel is read with a view to its ambivalent view of modern society and the whole notion of progress.