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Hedy Reviews “Hunger”

By Library Staff

“Hunger” is one of our Global Gathering Norway discussion books.  For the Global Gatherings, we invite scholars to be our discussion facilitators because often these foreign classics can be quite challenging and we can use all the help we can get.   “Hunger” is no exception with its atypical plot (or lack thereof) and disconcerting characters.  Hamsun, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature wanted to write not just for Norwegians but for a universal human being.  Hamsun’s anti- hero is an outsider at odds with society and in revolt against God.  He carries on an interior monologue throughout the book and experiences more than one level or state of hunger–mental and emotional as well as physical.  He’s paranoid and generous to a fault (so much so that the reader is sure to groan with frustration when he gives his last Kroner away totally unnecessarily when he himself needs them so desperately.  It’s a grueling read in that way, but yet it is compelling.  If you like Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”, you will probably like “Hunger”.

The cover is a wonderful painting by Edvard Munch entitled “Anxiety” which fits so perfectly.

The Library recently purchased the 1965 movie “Hunger” (“Svalt”) DVD FOREIGN HUNGER which was beautifully filmed in black and white with a cast made up of  a number of Scandinavians.  I really enjoyed the added featurette of a conversation between the author Paul Auster and Knut Hamsun’s granddaughter.

FIC HAMS  Hamsun, Knut, translated from the Norwegian by Sverre Lyngstad, 1998.  “Hunger”, 1890, 206 pages