On 'Knut Hamsuns oprør'
by Peter Hovmand
Forlaget Patagonien 2013
The early works of Knut Hamsun has had great influence on the development of the modern novel, not only in Scandinavia, but also in Germany and later on in America. Hamsuns way of writing has brought the focus of novels onto the psychological problems of the individual in the modern world. He has done this in a very personal, concentrated style with a great feeling for the poetical structure of storytelling in his novels.
The book takes Hamsuns narrative techniques into account, but the focus of the analysis is the development of the thematics throughout the two novels 'Mysteries' from 1892 and 'Pan' from 1894. In the centre of the thematics of the two novels lies a personal critique of modernity. The shape and structure of this critique is quite different in the two novels, but there are similarities, and the result is almost the same: A catastrophic end for the main character in each novel.
The tragic end of the two main characters is a result of their individual struggle with the challenges of modern society. Nagel from 'Mysteries' is a "freethinker," discussing everything and provoking everyone, all in order to have an influence on people's way of thinking. But he soon gives up this impossible task. The moral values of society seem to be too strongly founded.
Glahn from 'Pan' is more of a dreamer, in love with nature and all its delights. But his turning away from society is also a critique of modernity, focused on the idea of living a peaceful life in nature. Glahn has a strong belief in this idea, but not strong enough, it is more of a dream, and his dream shatters when he is obsessed with a bourgeois woman, Edvarda.
A central part of the foundation of my analysis of Hamsuns two novels lies in Nietzsche's critique of moral. With this in mind it is easier to point out the important moral conflicts of the novels. Even though these conflicts might seem minor at first hand, the prism of Nietzsche makes it easier to understand what the conflicts really mean in a larger perspective.
In 'Mysteries' and 'Pan' Hamsun doesn't come with any easy solutions to the struggle of the main characters, but he takes a deeper look into their minds, and he exhibits their individual struggle in a new, different perspective - which all in all should be enlightening to the modern reader ...
[The book is written in Danish]