Mysteries (1892) is the story of Johan Nilsen Nagel, a mysterious stranger who suddenly turns up in a small Norwegian town one summer-and just as suddenly disappears. Nagel is a complete outsider, a sort of modern Christ treated in a spirit of near parody. He condemns the politics and thought of the age, brings comfort to the insulted and injured and gains the love of two women suggestive of the biblical Mary and Martha. But there is a sinister side of him: in his vest he carries a vial of Prussic acid. The novel creates a powerful sense of Nagel's stream of thought, as he increasingly withdraws into the torture chamber of his own subconscious psyche.
Mysteries is closer to me than any other book I have read. (Henry Miller)
Never has the Nobel Prize been awarded to one worthier of it. (Thomas Mann)
It is as immediate as last night's dream or nightmare. (The New York Times)
Author Bio: Knut Hamsun (1858-1952) was born to a farming family and spent much of his early life impoverished and unknown, before finding success with his novel, Hunger (1890). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1920.
Sverre Lyngstad, born in Norway, translated the Penguin Classics editions of Hamsun's Hunger and Pain.