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Hunger Paperback – 31 Aug 2006

36 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books (31 Aug. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760780870
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841958194
  • ASIN: 1841958190
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Hunger is the crux of Hamsun’s claims to mastery. This is the classic novel of humiliation, even beyond Dostoevsky." -- Observer

"Hunger was published in 1890 and its power has not faded." -- London Review Of Books

"One of the most disturbing novels in existence" -- Time Out

From the Back Cover

Knut Hamsun's Hunger has come to be regarded as one of the major modernist novels, anticipating and influencing much fiction that was to follow, from Joyce and Kafka to Camus and Kelman.

Hunger is a compelling trip into the mind of a young writer who is driven by starvation to constantly fluctuating extremes of euphoria and despair. It is a study of the psychological hinterlands - the very edges of experience - where few writers have the courage to tread. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Robert Burdock on 8 July 2008
Format: Paperback
Intense! Moving! Unforgettable! - a few resonant 'power words' which could help me to describe Mr. Knut Hamsun's Hunger to some extent, but they do little to fully encapsulate my innermost feelings about this novel. Quite simply Hunger, is one of the most powerful books I've ever read, in any genre; whether fictional or factual, and given that I've read countless biographical accounts relating to some of history's most harrowing events, this is quite a statement to make, but it is one that I wholly stand by.

Stunning in its delivery, Hunger is one of the few books that has the ability to truly touch your soul. What makes the novel so intense is not the storyline; for the most part the story is devoid of plot. Rather the sense of sympathy and desperation one feels for the main character (a struggling writer on a psychological roller-coaster ride, stricken by poverty, who always seems as though he is about to draw his final breath), is, for me, the novel's crowning glory. This mechanism of `survival doubt' is superlatively engineered into the story by Mr. Hansum. There are times, usually at the start of a new `chapter' when the writer's survival seems assured (he himself proclaims many times that his latest work will be the one that end his dificulties). Inevitably however, the character's situation diminishes, and the reader's confidence can do nothing but diminish along with it, until, through some fortune turn of events, the main player draws himself back, if usually only temporarily, from the `abyss'.

As intense as Hunger is (and it really is intense at times, with the writer's moods elevating and lowering as often as the paragraphs change), I also found the novel to be quite humourous in parts.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By H. Eaton VINE VOICE on 3 Jan. 2007
Format: Paperback
This is an amazing book which drags you into the murky world of the narrator and forces you to feel his anguish, despair and humiliation as he struggles to find enough to eat to keep himself alive. The emotions provoked by the book are so strong that at times I found myself confused about where I was so thoroughly did I feel transported to the Christiania inhabited by the author.

The writing is so vivid that it is impossible not to be completely drawn in. On a number of occasions the narrator takes what he perceives to be 'moral decisions' which left me furious with him - he would rather starve than betray his conscience - and I actually found myself trying to reason with him. At times I had to put the book down so infuriated was I with his actions - I think I was going through the anguish of hunger with him and when he had a chance to get food and passed it up, it was more than I could bear!

At other times I was captivated by the humour and eccentricity of the book ... the narrator's mood swings, delusions and interactions with others make for very entertaining passages.

I highly recommend this book - it is both disturbing and memorable and I know it will stay with me for a long time.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Esther Nebenzahl on 20 Dec. 2001
Format: Paperback
Published in 1890, "Hunger" represents a breakthrough from traditional romantic European writing. Influenced by Dostoievsky and Nietszche, and anticipating Kafka, Joyce, and Camus, Hamsun creates a novel with intense personal (partially autobiographical) narration (using first and third person), developing on the theme of alienation and artistic obsession. It represents Hamsun's masterpiece in his first literary production stage, in which social/political issues are of no concern, only the individual and his stream of consciousness.
It is a plot less novel, the setting is Christiana (now Oslo), and the main character is a starving, homeless young journalist, with a mercurial personality. His reactions have no middle term, he moves from extreme joy to acute depression, from arrogance to humility, on the verge of irrationality. It clearly reflects the author's early poverty, his pathological passion with aesthetical beauty, and an enormous driving force to perfect his concept that "language must resound with all the harmonies of music." "Hunger" anticipates Freud and Jung in their understanding of human nature, and creates a new literally hero, the alienated mind.
Of Norwegian nationality, Knut Hmsun won the Nobel Price for Literature in 1920. In real life he was ostracized by his countrymen and the literary community as a result of his radical individualism, and political/social views. Yes, Hamsun was a convicted Nazi, friend of Hitler and Goebbels, an advocate of the "pure" race (Jews should be expelled from Europe, Blacks should be returned to Africa), and he applauded German invasion of Norway. Needless to say, when WWII was over, he dearly paid the price: Imprisonment, confiscation, and poverty.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Little Miss Average on 23 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback
I am so glad I picked this book up. It manages to be very intense, despite the fact that nothing really happens. The main struggle is in the internal world of the narrator, as he simply tries to cope and survive day to day. The psychological ups and down are very well written - his mood seemingly changes with the wind, and can flip and flop within a page of text. The characterisation is quite simply superb. He is sympathetically portrayed, and incredibly flawed, and is a victim of circumstance, but also perpetuates the cycle. It's such a human struggle I just couldn't put it down.

The key to this novel is the empathy you feel for the narrator. When his pride stops him accepting food you want to scream at him, when things don't go his way you hope for him, when he gets into a scrape you want to be there for him. In literature, if ever you encounter a character you want to scoop from the page and save from the world (or in this case themselves) you have something really special in your hands.

If by now it sounds like a depressing read: homelessness, poverty, loneliness, starvation, and hopelessness are all rather bleak reading - but the intensity of it is thrown into light relief by some comical episodes, stemming from his prideful delusions, mood swings and interactions (bickering with others in the street, and especially with himself).

I have given Hunger 5 stars because it has everything I look for in a great book. I have remembered it long after reading it, I genuinely cared about the fate of the main protagonist, and I have absolutely no qualms about recommending this book.
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