Enigma: Life of Knut Hamsun

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9780091671303: Enigma: Life of Knut Hamsun

The beginning of Robert Ferguson's introduction is arresting. 'If they've heard of him at all, people tend to know two things about Knut Hamsun: that he wrote Hunger, and that he met Hitler. Those who know a little more know that in Hunger, Mysteries and Pan, he produced novels that have had a decisive effect on European and American literature of the twentieth century. Ernest Hemingway tried to write like him; so did Henry Miller, who called him 'the Dickens of my generation'; 'never has the Nobel Prize been awarded to one worthier of it.' Thomas Mann wrote in 1929. Hermann Hesse called him 'my favourite author'. Russian writers like Andre Bely and Boris Pasternak read him keenly in their youth, and Andre Gide thought him arguable superior to Dostoevsky. They all read him - Kafka, Brecht, Gorky, Wells, Musil. Rebecca West described him as the possessor of 'qualities that belong to the very great - the completest omniscience about human nature'. And Isaac Bashevis Singer stated that Hamsun was quite simply 'the father of the modern school of literature in his every aspect - his subjectiveness, his fragmentariness, his use of flashbacks, his lyricism'. Singer, in his foreword to Hunger, goes on to say that 'The whole modern school of fiction in the twentieth century stems from Hamsun.' Yet in discussions of the history of modern literature, Hamsun's name is rarely mentioned. His reputation, which probably reached its height around 1929 with the world celebrations of his seventieth birthday, was in ruins by the end of the Second World War. Alone among the major European writers, he had supported Hitler. Brazenly alone, he had hailed he rise and bemoaned the fall of the epitome of spiritual tyranny in recent history.'

What a subject, and in this, the first biography, Robert Ferguson brilliantly gets the measure of this awkward, paradoxical writer, or, as he calls him 'a multiple paradox, a living riddle; a human question-mark'.

'Enigma is scholarly, very readable, warm, intelligent, shrewd, refreshingly unpretentious, invaluable, essential. A magnificent achievement.' Martin Seymour-Smith, Washington Post

'Enigma is simply a pleasure to read. When Ferguson writes of the demonic muse that haunted Hamsun throughout his life, we glimpse something profound about the creative act of writing, and we come very close to the exalted emotion that every writer feels - or hopes to feel. Indeed, the highest praise that can be bestowed on Ferguson's work is to declare that Enigma is one of the most moving, inspiring and exciting books on the subject of writing that I have ever encountered.' Jonathan Kirsch, Los Angeles Times

'Robert Ferguson's is the first full length English biography of Knut Hamsun and no one could ahve done a more expert job.' John Carey, Sunday Times

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About the Author:

Robert Ferguson was born in Blackpool in 1948. After completing Norwegian studies at University College in London, he took up a state scholarship in Norway in1983, and has since then lived in Oslo.Ferguson is an award-winning dramatist and has translated and adapted several of Ibsen's plays for the BBC. Apart from Henrik Ibsen: A New Biography he is also the author of two other highly acclaimed biographies, Enigma: The Life of Knut Hamsun and Henry Miller: A Life.

From Library Journal:

In the 1920s, Nobel Prize winner Knut Hamsun was perhaps the most influential author in Europe; Gide, Gorky, Kafka, and Hemingway were among his admirers. Though famous for his acute psychological insight, and one of the first to use interior monologue and stream-of-consciousness techniques, he is known above all as an extraordinarily complex and paradoxical man: an ardent Norwegian patriot who became an active supporter of Nazism. Ferguson argues that it was Hamsun's pathological dislike of the English rather than love of Germany that led him to betray his country. This biography, which draws on a wealth of material, manages to make the "enigma" of Hamsun comprehensible, particularly to the English-speaking public that has never known him well. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries. Ulla Sweedler, Univ. of California Lib., San Diego
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Ferguson, Robert
ISBN 10: 0091671302 ISBN 13: 9780091671303
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Book Description Hardback. Book Condition: Fair. A readable copy of the book which may include some defects such as highlighting and notes. Cover and pages may be creased and show discolouration. Bookseller Inventory # GOR007005721

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Ferguson, Robert:
Published by London: Hutchinson, (1987)
ISBN 10: 0091671302 ISBN 13: 9780091671303
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Book Description London: Hutchinson, 1987. Book Condition: Sehr gut. 488 S. Umschlag leicht berieben, sonst gutes Exemplar. - Knut Hamsun is one of the founders of modern European literature. His influence can be seen in the work of writers as diverse as Herman Hesse, Ernest Hemingway and Katherine Mansfield, while Isaac Bashevis Singer said of him that he was 'the father of the modern school of literature in his every aspect', and that 'the whole modern school of fiction in the twentieth century stems from Hamsun.' Yet despite his importance very little is known about Hamsun outside his native Norway. In an extraordinary writing career spanning some seventy of his ninety-three years, Hamsun produced a wide variety of work, poetry, plays, short story collections and travel sketches as well as his renowned novels such as Hunger, Mysteries, Pan and The Growth of the Soil. Hamsun spent much of his early life in impoverished circumstances, supplementing his meagre income as a writer by working as pig-minder, shoe-maker, peddlar, builder and even Sunday School teacher. In this first serious study of Hamsun to be published outside Norway, Robert Ferguson has successfully captured the restless and enigmatic spirit of Hamsun as author and man to produce a major biography of one of this century's most important and neglected writers. His vision of Hamsun's political failings is clearsighted, and his insights into the writer's work and character likely to provide a major reassessment. (Klappentext). ISBN 9780091671303 Wir versenden am Tag der Bestellung von Montag bis Freitag. Sprache: Deutsch Gewicht in Gramm: 550 Fadengehefteter Originalpappband mit Schutzumschlag. Bookseller Inventory # 965406

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