The Critic of Civilization
From the moment Hamsun first appears on the literary scene around 1890 it is the complex and sensitive inner life of modern people that preoccupies him. The tempo of modern times has an alienating and discordant effect on people. But the young Hamsun wants neither to reform society nor preach truths: his aim is to describe the whisper of the blood, the prayer in the marrow of the bone, the whole unconscious life of the mind.
After 1912 Hamsun’s writing takes on a more social orientation, with a large cast of characters and clearer, epic narrative lines. The themes of modernity are still his preoccupation: restlessness, progress, the new spirit of the age. Traditional ways of life and values are in decline. People sever their roots, flock to the towns and fill their lives with useless learning and tinned food.
Existential and social problems are brought together in Hamsun’s critique of civilisation. Behind the glamorous façade of modern life he searches for a way of life that is both truer and more authentic. But his critique of modern society is ambivalent. Like Hamsun himself, the characters in his novels are also fascinated by the dynamism of modern life.
- Karianne Bjellås Gilje: “Damned scribbling in newspapers”
- Henning H. Wærp: Hamsun and nature
- Ståle Dingstad: Hamsun and politics 1880–1945
- Britt Andersen: Hamsun and the new gender relations
From the Cultural Life of Modern America
Under the Autumn Star
A Wanderer Plays on Muted Strings
The Last Joy
Children of the Age
Growth of the Soil
Language in Danger
The Women at the Pump
Chapter the Last
The Road Leads On
The Ring is Closed