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The Modernist

Around 1890 a change occurs in literature. It becomes more subjective, more concerned with the life of the mind than with social questions. The belief in rationalism and progress comes in for criticism. Language becomes more allusive and experimental.

After his encounter with the modern world of America Hamsun is moved to create a new psychological literature that will reflect the restless complexity of the human mind. He rejects realistic literature, with its social and political concerns. In Hamsun’s eyes writers like Henrik Ibsen are superficial in their descriptions of what people are like. In Mysteries (1892) Ibsen’s writing is characterized as “the dramatization of sawdust”.

Hamsun’s promotion of the disconnected, of the logic of dreams and the nuances of the human mind influence the way in which portrays people in his writing. Hunger (1890) is regarded as one of the first modernist texts to appear in literature.