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Growth of the Soil (Penguin Classics) Paperback – September 25, 2007
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From The New Yorker
Copyright © 2007 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker
-H. G. Wells
"The whole modern school of fiction in the twentieth century stems from Hamsun."
-Isaac Bashevis Singer
Top Customer Reviews
Finally, Inger arrives. She is disfigured, a cast-off, ridiculed in the village for her appearance. Isak is happy with her if she is able to work - and she can. Thus one man becomes a couple, thus a life begins.
Soon, there are children. The farm grows. Buildings are added, animals are born. What was once a wilderness becomes tendered, tamed. Isak stubbornly works at the soil, harnessing its potential, cajoling food and life from the ground.
Growth of the Soil is not a novel based on plot. No, instead we experience the steady growth of Isak's farm, christened Sellanraa. Attached to this growth is Isak's family, as well as the surrounding area. What begins as a wilderness ends as a moderately prosperous community on the cusp of becoming a town.
We are presented most obviously with an allegory of man's rise from nothing into civilisation. We begin with a lone man and his wife, we end with writing, with culture, with mistakes and with money. A good chunk of the novel at the beginning is virtually devoid of dialogue - most of the end is rife with it. Similarly, money does not play a part until midway, and then it becomes a major focus for everyone except Isak.
There are villains, but only if we consider villains as being people who do not directly follow Isak's way of life. His son, Eleseus, after tasting the refined morsels of town life, becomes useless around the farm.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Only near the end could I tell through Giessler's small rant, that the main theme was not only about the fruits of relentless hard work, both in... Read more
My wife has been heckling me to read Growth of the Soil for 40 years. I finally gave in, and as with so many other things, I should have listened to her to begin with. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Tony Covatta
I must confess that I bought this book because I was drawn to the title and the cover, ( yes, I sometimes judge a book by its cover and amazingly and luckily, most of them have... Read morePublished 7 months ago by whj
One of the other reviews used something like "written with Olympian disdain"...which isn't far of the mark. And yet - the reader comes to know and inhabit the characters. Read morePublished 7 months ago by John Wilson
This novel is the saga of a pair of peasants, he an uneducated, illiterate man, she born with a harelip, as they struggle to make a living in a remote area on a farm the husband... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Classics Lover
Incredibly rich in human portrayal, in great simplicity, it almost seems as if nothing is happening, just the day to day life of peole that live from the soil , very basic life,... Read morePublished 10 months ago by philippebisson
This book is an amazing testament to the way things used (ought..?) to be. In this mythical world Hamsun has created a lone man comes to wild land with a PURPOSE. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Lupiyardo Poomiha
I loved the story of Isak, a simple man who founded a life for himself with nothing more than his determination to fulfill his most basic primal needs in nothing but the Norwegian... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Bean Slap
What can I say? This is my favorite book. Partial to the Norwegian rural landscape as I am, it was the storyline that left me stunned that its characters are fictitious. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Natasha E Swords