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Hunger ("Rebel Inc") Paperback – 1 May 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Paperback, 1 May 1998
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Product details

  • Paperback: 193 pages
  • Publisher: Rebel inc.; New edition edition (May 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0862416256
  • ISBN-13: 978-0862416256
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,310,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

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

"One of the most disturbing novels in existence" (Time Out)

"An excellent new translation . . . this Hunger deserves to be the standard English version" (Times Literary Supplement)

"Hamsun has the qualities that belong to the very great, a complete omniscience on human nature" (Rebecca West)

"Disturbing and difficult as this nightmarish novel is, it is a work of imaginative brilliance that resonates in our own day" (Herald)

"Hunger is undoubtedly one of the most important novels of the modern age. At last it has found a translator capable of doing justice to its immense power and complexity: Lyngstad's deserves to become the standard English version" (Duncan McClean) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

With an introduction by Jo Nesbø and an Afterword by Paul Auster --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Given that hunger was written in the late 1880's, it is certainly reasonable to call it a fore-runner of the artistic movement that came to be called modernism. Knut Hamsun's novel abandons notions of plot. It would have the reader believe that there is no structure in that for example the novel is divided into 4 parts with no chapters to structure is as a whole. It moves away from nineteenth century realism and focuses on the inner life or psychology of its main character and narrator. In doing so there is of course no third person omniscient narrator. This must have been disconcerting for readers when the novel was first published.

Hamsun's sets his novel in what used to be the capital of Norway, namely Kristiania. We follow the story, which is almost like a memoir, of the almost nameless first person narrator as he wanders about the city mainly hungry and in a state of penury. I say almost nameless narrator because later in the novel he does offer a name to a number of people he meets - he calls himself Andrea Tangen. However, we are never sure whether to take him at his word and believe that he gives a correct name. Every now and again our narrator makes a living by writing articles for a newspaper. He inspires to be a writer. In his wanderings he encounters a number of people and situations almost as if to suggest that these encounters are propositions to test his moral scruples. On his wanderings he eventually meets and becomes partly preoccupied with a young girl whom he calls Ylajali.

It is said that Hamsun's novel had an influence on modernist writers such as James Joyce. The hallmarks are clearly there in the novel that would allow one to make such a claim. For example, as stated above, there is little or no plot and structure.
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