Pan by Knut Pedersen is a love story about Thomas Glahn, a lone hunter who lives in the wilderness with his only companion, a dog called Aesop. The story is set in Norway. Glahn, who is also the narrator in the story, survives through fishing and hunting. He is not a social person and prefers staying in the wilderness. The author states that he has an animal-like resemblance and wears leather. The author delves into the human psyche and reveals the different types of thoughts people have about others.
Glahn’s personality and way of life attracts many women. Perdersen shows the terrible romantic experiences that he had. For instance, the narrator mentions how he once threw a girl’s shoe into the ocean. However, his life changes once he meets Edvarda. The young girl comes from a nearby town and her father is a merchant.
Glahn and Edvarda end up having a romantic relationship. However, Glahn constantly chases after Edvarda especially in social settings. She ignores his advances in public but reveals her feelings to him in private. The book primarily focuses on the various dynamics in Edvarda and Glahn’s relationship.
Pan has a rather complex narrative structure. It is a first-person novel in which the main part of the story is told by the narrator-protagonist, Glahn, two years after the events that are being narrated took place. The main part is followed by an epilogue, also in the first person, in which the story of Glahn’s death is told by an unnamed hunting companion.
The main story takes place in northern Norway during the summer months of the year 1855. Glahn, a lieutenant who has obtained leave from his commission, is living a rather primitive life as a hunter and fisherman in a forest cabin near the trading post Sirilund. He is tired of civilization, he says, and has left behind the norms of cultured society, being unable to get along well with cultivated people. In narrating his story, Glahn tells both about the external events of his life out in the wilderness and about his reflections on existence, and it is clear that he is trying to become an artist.
During visits to the trading post, Glahn becomes acquainted with Edvarda, the daughter of the trader Mack. Being attracted to her both because of her social position and for her own sake, he tries to win her, but Edvarda is emotionally unpredictable, and a love-hate relationship, in which they take turns torturing each other, develops. Glahn also enters into a sexual relationship with Eva, who, despite her marriage to the local blacksmith, is the mistress of Edvarda’s father, Mack, whom Glahn displaces. Attempting to play the role of the Greek god Pan, Glahn also seduces a young goatherd named Henriette.
Much of the story deals with the battle between Glahn and Mack over Eva, as well as with Glahn’s attempts to get rid of two rivals in his relationship to Edvarda—the local doctor and a Finnish baron who is conducting scientific research in the area. Glahn, while present at a party and slightly inebriated, deliberately offends the baron by spitting into his ear. He also offends the doctor by treating him like a dog, whistling to him and coaxing him to jump over his gun as if it were a stick. Neither the doctor nor the baron is willing to lower himself to Glahn’s level, but Mack, who has been accustomed to holding unchallenged power in the area, is not afraid of facing him. Shrewd and manipulative, Mack decides to show Glahn that he is the more intelligent of the two by forcing him to abandon a project. Glahn has been planning to blast some rock out of a seaside cliff as a final salute to the baron, who is leaving by ship, but Mack orders Eva to tar a boat below the cliff, thinking that Glahn will not risk hurting her. Glahn, however, has less regard for Eva’s life than for his own pride, and the result is that Eva dies in the explosion.
(The entire section contains 1760 words.)
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