Shallow Soil (1893) is a novel about artists.
It is set in about 1890 in Kristiania, where the writer Irgens is at the centre of a circle of smug and superficial artists. Moral, industrious and honourable, the businessmen Tidemand and Henriksen are in striking contrast to the artists. Poised between these two groups is the schoolteacher, Coldevin, whom Tore Hamsun once described as the author’s mouthpiece.
Shallow Soil seems to have been intended as a contribution to an ongoing debate, typical of the period, and this adversely affects the literary quality of the novel. Yet for some time Hamsun regarded it his finest, referring to is as a ”clenched fist” of a book.