Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 244
Pan is a novel written in Norwegian by author Knut Pedersen (published under the pseudonym, Knut Hamsun). The book tells the story of Lt. Thomas Glahn, who lives alone in a hut in the middle of the wilderness. He lives with his dog, Asop. One day, Glahn meets Edwarda, the daughter of a merchant, while he is visiting the coast and gets caught in a harsh rain. Glahn generally avoids civilization, but is attracted to Edwarda, though she is young and "with no figure to speak of." The novel follows their courtship, which is actually a violent passion. As Edwarda is courted by several other men in town, Glahn finds himself attracted to Eva, also a young girl who does manual labor in the town, and is married to a blacksmith. This upsets Edwarda who confronts him, causing a fight.
Edwarda offers the somewhat supercilious Glahn shelter when his hut is burned down, but he refuses. Ultimately, Glahn's resolution to live a life remote from civilization precludes the development of their relationship. By the story's end, Eva is killed aboard a boat that hits rocks, caused by Glahn's mining rocks at the hillside. Herr Mack ordered her to tar a ship beneath the cliffs, knowing that Glahn planned to blast the hillside.
The novel explores man's close relationship with nature, and causes the reader to question whether it is Glahn's avoidance of civilization which destroys him, or his involvement with civilization and its members.