- Paperback: 472 pages
- Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Paperback Edition edition (May 1, 1988)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0374520933
- ISBN-13: 978-0374520939
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,988,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Enigma: The life of Knut Paperback – May 1, 1988
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they call this book ENIGMA people. figure it out. they call it that because knut hamsun was an extremely intresting person composed of complex contradictions. and this book also gives a synopsis of every major work hamsun ever produced. something like that could very well be termed invaluable, couldnt it? it also is packed full of anecdotes from hamsuns life. but then again, what did you expect?
did you know that he was a nazi sympathiser? did you know that he found a fingernail in a graveyard when he was a child and was consequently tormented by a ghost for some time?
oh yeah, if you were worried about whether its "well written" or not, i can assure you that it is. but maybe ive presumed too much.
If you are looking to at last discover the evidence to claim unequivocally that Hamsun was or was not a Nazi, don't bother looking here. On the other hand, if you are looking to gain insight into who the man actually was and what he actually believed (for better or worse), Enigma is well worth a read. Hamsun was a character as fragmented as the ones he wrote about, and Ferguson does an admirable job bringing all the different sides of him to life through narratives, articles, letters, and pictures.
Like I said Hamsun was a screwy guy. There was a woman who Hamsun claimed was stalking him and sending nasty letters about him to many of his acquaintances. The police watched and followed her for months and found no evidence of any of this. I have to believe that Hamsun orchestrated the whole thing, even sending out the letters himself. He did however live many places and had some interesting observances. On America he says Americans think "the meaning of a work of art is reduced to its cash value" and "instead of founding an intellectual elite, America has established a mulatto stud farm". His observavtions on Muslims while passing through Turkey were "the Koran has created an attitude towards life which cannot be debated or discussed". Overall this was a decent biography of Hamsun.