A deceptively simple tale written in Norway in the early 1900s. The main character Rolandsen is a typical Hamsun protagonist - quixotic, prone to sudden passions and changes of heart, infuriating and compelling.
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.
A great companion piece to 'Victoria' this is another short Hamsun novel revolving around love. Unlike 'Victoria' however this is light-hearted, very funny, and ultimately has a happy ending. Great translation, very readable and well worth seeking out if you are interested in Knut Hamsun. In fact it would make a great starting place if you haven't read his classic books (Hunger, Mysteries, Pan and Victoria).
Having never read any Hamsun before I was really taken by this little novel. Easily readable in a day, it focuses on a few characters in a village far in the north. There are some lovely characters: the new and overly pious curate; his wife, a formerly well-to-do lady with no concept of how to run a house; Enoch, the devout little man; the proud housekeeper; Mack, the successful entrepeneur keen to keep up his reputation. Mostly however, 'Dreamers' follows the telegraph office worker, Ove Rolandsen, a man of meagre means who dreams of making his fortune and knows how to spin romantic dreams for all the women around him. This is a charming little book, often funny and full of human frailties and the things people do to keep up appearances or realise their ambitions. Highly recommended.
Dreamers (1904) by Nobel prize-winner Knut Hamsun is a light comedy set in an isolated Norwegian fishing community. Essentially it is the tale of Ove Rolandsen, a mercurial telegraph-operator, striving to better his lot. Drunken yet serious, bellicose yet sensitive, Rolandsen is a man of towering contradiction. A lovable rogue with a passion for women and song, his rakish and seemingly impulsive behaviour threaten to be his undoing. However, his timely invention of a revolutionary fish-glue might just save his reputation and win him the love he so ardently desires.
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.