Norway: Mundane Life in a Fishing Village

A man who could have been the greatest author ever to represent Norway, was it not for him admiring the Nazis, was something I did not know about Knut Hamsun, the author of The Ring Is Closed. The book, his last one, was translated into the English 74 years after it was written. Hamsun never renounced the Nazis, and he even wrote a eulogy for Hitler.

I wanted to read something else than Nordic noir, and I have never read Hamsun before, and had no clue what to expect. I did not expect it to be boring, but sadly that is the most colourful word to explain this book. Abel is the son of a lighthouse-keeper, and he moves to the United States. He manages to make money and get married, but after his wife’s death he returns to Norway. Back in his hometown he decides to do nothing with his life, ending up being poor.

I find the setting being intriguing, a small fishing village on the Norwegian coast, a small community that gets its roving son back home. Being Nordic myself I understand the setting and life in the region, as well as what will most likely seem like odd behavior to “outsiders”, but Abel living his life, is simply something you can definitely something you can still see today. A man quietly drifting, not giving anyone a hint of what is going on in his head.

The book is slow-paced and passive. Might be part of its brilliance, but made it mundane and forgettable to me. However, this book is said to be different from Hamsun’s other books. Since it is argued that Hamsun wrote his best books early on in his carrier, and I ended up reading the last one, I will definitely go on reading his first books. If an author has been called the father of modern literature, there has to be more to it than this book! No matter what anyone thinks of Hamsun after he betrayed his country and his admiration of the Nazis, it is not something he wrote about, and his books should be given a fair chance.

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