Knut Hamsun Long Fiction Analysis
Knut Hamsun the novelist can be viewed as an outsider who writes about outsiders. Originating in a family that by any standard must be considered poor, Hamsun was keenly aware of the difference between himself and those who possessed power and prestige in society. Power and its opposite, powerlessness, are therefore important themes in his work.
Several of Hamsun’s early novels, such as Hunger and Pan, are narrated in the first person, and their first-person protagonists have character traits and experiences that appear to have been modeled on Hamsun’s own. The later novels are without exception narrated in the third person, but that does not mean that the autobiographical content is less. In addition, one can always trust the narrators in the later works to represent Hamsun’s own views, while unreliability is a feature of some of the early narrators.
The author’s interest in the character of the outsider manifests itself in the careful attention paid to individual psychology in the early novels, as well as in Hamsun’s interest in the exceptional individual’s relation to society and social forces, especially those of social change, which is found in the later works. The early Hamsun hero, who is often an artist or an artistlike figure, attempts to overcome his powerlessness either through his ability to inspire love in a woman of higher social standing or through his art, or both. The typical hero of the later...
(The entire section is 3991 words.)
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