In the novel Growth of the Soil, what is Knut Hamsun's perception of Nature? Did he think Nature was indifferent and underpresented?

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Natalie Saaris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout his writing career, Hamsun sought to portray the beauty and virtue of nature and tradition, particularly as it was being undermined by industrialization and modernity at the turn of the twentieth century. 

In Growth of the Soil, Hamsun creates the image of an exemplary life lived in nature with his heroic protagonist, Isak. Both Isak and his wife, Inge, flourish in the countryside and find solace for the problems that plagued them in their past. They are hardworking and connected to the soil through their farming. They are simple people living a natural, rural life.

Society stands as a contrast to this peaceful, idyllic natural life, and every intrusion of civilization brings with it corruption. The state attempts to take away Isak's land and Eleseus' attraction to money and activity leads him to leave his family behind. 

Hamsun clearly sees Nature as an antidote to the selfishness, materialism, and alienation of city life. While Nature is wholesome, connecting people to the land and allowing them to be self-sufficient, society is driven by commerce and dependence. The novel clearly responds to the threat to Nature by the modernization of Hamsun's time.

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Growth of the Soil

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