Growth of the Soil

Growth of the Soil

Book - 2007
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When it was first published in 1917, Growth of the Soil was immediately recognized as a masterpiece. Ninety years later it remains a transporting literary experience. In the story of Isak, who leaves his village to clear a homestead and raise a family amid the untilled tracts of the Norwegian back country, Knut Hamsun evokes the elemental bond between humans and the land. Newly translated by the acclaimed Hamsun scholar Sverre Lyngstad, Hamsuns novel is a work of preternatural calm, stern beauty, and biblical powerand the crowning achievement of one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.--From publisher description.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, 2007
ISBN: 9780143105107
Branch Call Number: F HAMSU-K
Characteristics: xx, 328 p. ; 20 cm
Additional Contributors: Lyngstad, Sverre


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Oct 31, 2017

This book, published in Norwegian, when Hamsun was at the peak of his powers, earned him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1920. The writing is mostly spare, sometimes poetic. It's the story of two generations of Isak's family, who comes alone from nowhere with almost nothing to create the first homestead in an isolated area above the Arctic Circle. Over 30 or 40 yrs, he finds a housekeeper, whom he later marries, and has children who grow up. A handful of other men move into the area, though none live higher on the mountain than Isak. Life is difficult for all, though each handles it in different ways. Some try to get rich, some focus on relationships. While Hamsun doesn't phrase it this way, gender roles are problematic. Most men arrive alone, then must find women to keep house and help in the fields. Those who cannot find themselves mired in poverty and overwork. Those who can either fight with the women, or fall in love. Some women end up with more children than they can manage, and resort to infanticide. A few people end up emigrating to America in hopes of improving life. While Hamsun writes about events at least a generation or two in his past, his book is deeply researched. My family is mostly Norwegian, and I've read a lot of Norwegian history. Life on the Norwegian frontier was very difficult, though it had its compensations. This 2007 translation, true to the original, remains a difficult read. Recommended reading nonetheless, especially for those with interest in the time and place.

Mar 12, 2014

The "description" of this book (as of 3/12/14) talks about Gettysburg, Pickett's Charge, Little Round Top, etc. Who knew the Norwegians had a Civil War with exactly the same battleground names?!! :-)

Dec 22, 2013

I don't think this summary is in the right record...


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