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Hunger ("Rebel Inc") Paperback – January 1, 2002
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Hunger is the crux of Hamsun's claims to mastery. This is the classic novel of humiliation, even beyond Dostoevsky * * Observer * * One of the most disturbing novels in existence * * Time Out * * An excellent new translation . . . this Hunger deserves to be the standard English version * * Times Literary Supplement * * Hamsun has the qualities that belong to the very great, a complete omniscience on human nature -- Rebecca West Disturbing and difficult as this nightmarish novel is, it is a work of imaginative brilliance that resonates in our own day * * Herald * * Hunger is undoubtedly one of the most important novels of the modern age. At last it has found a translator capable of doing justice to its immense power and complexity: Lyngstad's deserves to become the standard English version -- Duncan McClean --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The Nobel Prize-winning author Knut Hamsun's Hunger, an influential work of twentieth-century modern literature, is now a Canon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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One thing I noticed: the narrator lies to most of the people around him. He also lies to himself -- sets up deceptive illusions to make himself raise the energy to do things. I've read the book only once, but I believe that some of the more fantastic scenes with are just hallucinations. Where the narrator's experience stops and the hallucinations begin is a delicate line. I'll have to read the book again and see if I can puzzle it out.
Another person has posted a review describing the same problem. I ended up having to spend $3 to return the book to Amazon because they only supply a portion of the return shipping, I was very annoyed by this and I highly suggest not buying the mass-market edition if you decide on this translation.
In addition to this, I highly recommend getting a copy translated by Sverre Lyngstad, which just came out in 1996. I browsed through both copies (Sverre & Egerton) and the difference in how the prose is rendered is quite significant. Egerton seems to follow the classic British style of translation where emphasis is placed on exactitude and misses out on some of the nuance and wit that is more apparent in the Sverre translation.
The novel has been hailed as the literary opening of the 20th century.
Hunger is loosely based on the author's own impoverished life before his break-through in 1890.
It is about the adventures of a young man, starving in Christiania (now Oslo). His sense of reality is giving way to a delusionary existence on the darker side of a modern city. His mental and physical decay are recounted in detail.
In the famous opening lines he ambivalently describes Kristiania (Oslo) as " this wondrous city that no one leaves before it has made its marks upon him".
A fantastic novel which I give my warm recommendation!