Table of Contents
Growth of the Soil
Look Back on Happiness
Under the Autumn Star
Set in late 19th century Kristiania, the novel recounts the adventures of a starving young man whose sense of reality is giving way to a delusionary existence on the darker side of a modern metropolis. While he vainly tries to maintain an outer shell of respectability, his mental and physical decay are recounted in detail. His ordeal, enhanced by his inability or unwillingness to pursue a professional career, which he deems unfit for someone of his abilities, is pictured in a series of encounters which Hamsun himself described as 'a series of analyses.'
Lieutenant Thomas Glahn, a hunter and ex-military man, lives alone in a hut in the forest with his faithful dog Aesop. Upon meeting Edvarda, the daughter of a merchant in a nearby town, they are both strongly attracted to each other, but neither understands the other's love. Overwhelmed by the society of people where Edvarda lives, Glahn has a series of tragedies befall on him before he leaves forever.
Growth of the Soil -
It is the life story of a man in the wilds, the genesis and gradual development of a homestead, the unit of humanity, in the unfilled, uncleared tracts that still remain in the Norwegian Highlands. It is an epic of earth; the history of a microcosm. Its dominant note is one of patient strength and simplicity; the mainstay of its working is the tacit, stern, yet loving alliance between Nature and the Man who faces her himself, trusting to himself and her for the physical means of life, and the spiritual contentment with life which she must grant if he be worthy. . .The story is epic in its magnitude, in its calm, steady progress and unhurrying rhythm, in its vast and intimate humanity. The author looks upon his characters with a great, all-tolerant sympathy, aloof yet kindly, as a god.'
Knut Hamsun was a leading Norwegian author, born in Lom under the name of Knut Pedersen.
He first received acclaim for his 1890 novel Sult, translated as Hunger. The work, which is semi-autobiographical, described a young writer's descent into near madness as a result of hunger and poverty. In many ways, the novel presages the writings of Franz Kafka and other twentieth-century novelists, who explored the madness of the contemporary human condition.
Other important works by Hamsun include Pan  and The Growth of the Soil , for which he received the Nobel Prize in literature in 1920.