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Hunger

«It was in the time I wandered and starved in Kristiania, that strange city that none may leave without being marked by it ….»

1890
2017-04-2608:58 Marianne Gjelseth

We follow the anonymous, first-person narrator of Hunger (1890) for almost a year as he struggles to break through as a writer. The physical effects of hunger affect his behaviour, his thoughts and his perceptions of reality, acting as a spur to his creativity.

The main character is portrayed as someone with no close personal relationships, and his approaches to the lovely young Ylajali end in disappointment. The story is set in Kristiania around 1890.

Hunger was Knut Hamsun’s breakthrough novel, and it remains today one of the central texts of literary modernism. Along with Growth of the Soil, it is the best-selling of Hamsun’s novels.

«The certainty that I was being honest rose to my head, filling me with the wonderful feeling of being a man of character, a beacon of light in a grubby sea of people awash with wrack.»

«Pretty? She was gorgeous, she was wickedly sweet! Eyes like shantung, arms of amber! Just one look from her was as seductive as a kiss, and when she called to me her voice shot through me like a jet of wine, straight to my heart.»

Front cover, first edition of Sult (Hunger). Photo: The Hamsun Centre.