Dreamers (1921) Hardcover – 10 Sep 2010
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"I read these novels with the gently expanding recognition due only to the
great writers." -- Doris Lessing
"One of the great writers of this century... Hamsun's novels have the
simplicity of total self-possession." -- 'Sunday Times'
"The whole modern school of fiction in the twentieth century stems from
Hamsun." -- Isaac Bashevis Singer
"A rare understanding of human nature comes through, expressed in
a measured, elegiac and lyrical prose."
-- 'Sunday Telegraph' --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From the Back Cover
The midnight sun illumines more than fishing and fjords in this remote, northern Norwegian village. In fact, half-baked schemes and hilarity abound. Big Ove Rolandsen, telegraph operator, mad scientist, and local Casanova, trades wits, fists, and kisses with a host of quirky neighbors. He serenades the curate's wife and fights a drunken giant, but taking on Trader Mack, the town's fish-glue magnate, is a more difficult matter. Knut Hamsun, author of the acclaimed Hunger and winner of the 1920 Nobel Prize for Literature, renders the dreams and dramas of these townsfolk with a delightfully light touch. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Much of the comedy lies in Rolandsen's tomfoolery and flirtation, but other engaging if somewhat stereotypical characters including a zealous priest and a clumsy housewife bolster this farce. Most remarkable though is Hamsun's acute understanding of the psychology of human behaviour. The interplay between characters is deftly crafted, whilst Rolandsen's internal questioning and analysis of his place in the world is wholly natural. This sensitivity to the ticking of the psyche marks Hamsun as a truly modern forerunner to such authors as Joyce and Woolf.
As in much of Hamsun's work the theme of man's symbiotic union with nature is key. With a narrative starting in spring and reaching through the summer, the growth of plants and development of human feelings go hand in hand. Nordland is a fecund place, where freshly caught herring sparkle and wafts of smoked juniper flavour the air. This sketch of nature in her prime coupled with the author's comic touch is bound to lift even the gloomiest of souls.
Dreamers may not have the psychological gnawing angst of Hamsun's Hunger (1890) or the epic nature of Growth of the Soil (1917), but the lightness and joy radiating from this slight novel are a pleasure indeed.
The book on one level recounts the events during one brief summer in a Norwegian village far in the north of the country. However, what I get from it is Hamsun's concern to express how transient and changeable our feelings are and the difficulty in expressing this authentically in a society that wants individuals to suppress this by being 'polite' and 'respectable'.
A charming book that resonates for me long after its brief 126 page duration.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In this novel, a young but ambitious telegraph operator who is a womanizing drunk as well as a clever inventor seeks capital to make his dreams of better, cheaper fish-glue with dye as a byproduct. Along the way one meets the fiancee he can't get rid of, a curate with a hell-fire-brimstone manner and a wife who is spoiled and childish, lay-helpers with hidden hatreds ... a whole village of believable characters acting in very human ways.
This is not a deep, philosophical novel but through the characters' actions there is a sense of hopefulness that overpowers the foibles.
Dreamers is lighter novel than Hamsun usually writes. It's basically a comic work. We have almost-murders, almost-affairs, almost-dirty dealings, but nothing ever brings the book down into the realm of "heavy" literature. It almost feels like a Shakespearean comedy such as Much Ado About Nothing. Nobody gets hurt in the end. At bottom, most of the characters here have a core of goodness that never lets the plot degenerate into tragedy.
This was a good light read. For an example of more intense works by Hamsun, I would check out "Hunger" and "Pan", the latter novel showing how the same elements we find in "Dreamers" can be melded into something more primal and powerful. I would also recommend Shakespeare's comedies such as "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Love's Labor's Lost". Also, check out "Harvest" by Jean Giono for a similar take on a pastoral subject with more intensity.