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  • ISBN: 9780141180649
  • ISBN10: 0141180641

Hunger

by Sverre Lyngstad

  • List Price: $16.00
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Penguin USA
  • Publish date: 02/01/1998
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Description: Contemptuous of contemporary novels and what he saw as stereotypical plots and empty characters, Knut Hamsun embarked on "an attempt to describe the strange, peculiar life of the mind, the mysteries of the nerves in a starving body". First published in Norway in 1890, Hunger probes into the depths of consciousness with frightening and gripping power. Like the works of Dostoyevsky, it marks an extraordinary break with Western literary and humanistic traditions.

In a moment-by-moment internal monologue, Hamsun reveals the profound anguish of a struggling writer facing the possibility of death in a world indifferent to his existence. Unable to sell his work, the narrator rails against bourgeois society and its demand for "popular" writing; overwhelmed by adversities, he curses God. A hero alienated from society, plagued by the vicissitudes of fate, and raging against heaven is old as literature itself; it is Hamsun's protagonist's awareness of the absurdity of his situation -- and of the human condition in general -- that makes him a totally modern figure. As Lyngstad writes in the Introduction: "Twenty-five years before Kafka created Gregor Samsa, man as an insect, and more than fifty years before Camus popularized the absurd hero as a modern Sisyphus, Hamsun in Hunger did both".

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