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Regardless of my own views on Hamsun the man I m sure I m not the only one to be bothered by his Nazi sympathies there is no doubt Hamsun the novelist is up there with the best of them Very rarely would I describe a novel as having a biblical power within it s pages, but Growth of the Soil carried with it something greater than just being a tale of man s elemental bond with the earth Hamsun s vision of peasant life in Norway s backcountry was every bit as good as I expected it to be, but I didn t think it would have ended up eclipsing Pan , a novel I hugely admire He switches from the first person narrative of earlier novels to a stately, almost distant third person perspective which I found extraordinarily effective Even though it s told with great simplicity, Hamsun s eye for detail never faltered, and within only a matter of pages I had the feeling a novel of epic grandeur was on the way With incredibly rich characters that are always deep in thought or flustered with feelings, the truthful perspective of existence and experience resulted in a tour de force level of thoughtful and textured storytelling Isak and Inger were characters I didn t want to leave, I miss them already Growth of the Soil isn t so much about us as it is the story of where we all came from Our ancestors, there prosperous dreams, and the deepest yearning for a warm and loving Homecoming It simply didn t disappoint Fully deserved landing Hamsun with the Nobel Prize in Literature For anyone interested in the day to day lives of early settlers this is a beautifully crafted must read. Get this edition On the front cover is a young man walking on plowed ground Above is the book s modest title, Growth of the Soil, and in smaller case Knut Hamsun s Greatest Novel Open it and you ll see the book s title again, the author s name and the information that it was translated from the Norwegian by W.W Worster From there, at once, as if it is a crime to make pleasure wait, you go straight to its first chapter No introduction Absolutely nothing about who the author is, or his other books, not even about his having won the Nobel Prize for Literature No mention of whatever awards the novel or the author got No blurbs Ah, except the one at the back cover One solitary praise, from another writer, H G Wells He said I do not know how to express the admiration I feel for this wonderful book without seeming to be extravagant I am not usually lavish with my praise, but indeed the book impresses me as among the very greatest novels I have ever read It is wholly beautiful it is saturated with wisdom and humor and tenderness How many times have you heard this, when a fellow tasked to introduce a speaker before a crowd, he ll go Our next speaker needs no introduction I felt the same with this novel It needed nothing before it No preliminaries, no teasers, or encomium It pulls you captive right at its powerful first paragraph, then pins you down helpless, your eyes riveted towards one beautiful page after another, 435 in all, an unending chorus of debilitating prose that would make you weak on your knees.Eyah, Herregud How can it ever be possible that someone could write amazingly like this, using the most humble materials for a story Isak, the hairy, physically ugly, illiterate peasant his wife Inger, the hare lippedwith nice legs the family they raised in the Norwegian wilderness their mundane farm life And yet only a 4.22 GR average rating out of 1,286 ratings and 146 reviews excluding mine Ho, ptro, huttch, hoy huit A few lost souls gave it 2 stars, some 3 Mine was the strongest 5 I had given a book But maybe it was just me Was it because, long ago when I was much younger, I too lived by myself in a wild country for a year , with my pig, chickens and dogs as daily companions Was it perhaps because I also knew how a long hike feels with your shoulders groaning with a heavy load, or see people only occasionally and commune with these simplest of minds eagerly during these rare moments, get down sick and trust only in the rustic air and cool spring water for cure, and see the world as it was created and before man recreated it H m, I don t know I am all but nothing in all humanity and literature is a mystery to me. Then comes the eveningThose who have seen the film Hamsun, starring Max Von Sydow, will recall seeing several scenes with Marie Hamsun finishing a novel with this line at book readings Growth of the Soil, Nobel laureate Knut Hamsun s 1917 novel widely regarded as his masterpiece, is that novel Powerful in its sublime simplicity, Growth is the life and times of Isak, following him as he cuts his legacy from the untamed wilds of Norway I would recommend anyone with an interest in the author to view the film Hamsun, as Sydow delivers a stellar performance as usual, and it depicts an accurate enough portrayal of the Hamsun s later years particularly those involving his outspoken support of Adolf Hitler This taboo cost the author his wealth and social status and still seems to avert modern readers, but, as the old saying goes, hind sight is 20 20 and Hamsun favored Hitlerdue to his anti English sentiments and openly admitted to finding his anti Semitism ridiculous He was also reported to be one of the few people to ever talk down to Hitler, causing Hitler to dismiss him and bury himself away in rage for several days when Hamsun insisted upon releasing Norwegian prisoners of war who were sentenced to death by firing squad Hamsun was a massive literary inspiration to many of his contemporaries, being highly praised by authors such as Hemingway, Hesse and even Bukowski, and his luckily novels do not reflect this unflattering political alignment This novel was however issued in field editions to German soldiers during WWII, which is understandable as the novel exudes a deep love for ones homeland Putting aside all the ugly Nazi business, Hamsun has a brilliant mind and voice and it would be a shame for his novels to be passed over.Growth of the Soil, written 27 years after his other classic and debut novel, and one of my personal favorite books of all time, Hunger displays Hamsun at a muchmatured writing style While Hunger was gritty, raw and frantic, Growth delivers a very controlled and serene prose The typical quirks of Hamsun are still present, and avid readers will find his unmistakable voice booming from the pages It is quite impressive how so little yet so much seems to transpire in this relatively short novel 324pgs in the Penguin Classics edition and the vast length of time that goes by The novel begins with a youthful Isak setting out on his own and by the end he is reflecting upon old age as he begins to embrace the deterioration of his strength and body and leave the future in the hands of his full grown children He masterfully manipulates time, as it passes in spurts sometimes burning quickly through chunks of years or slowly moving through a season, yet the pace and flow never falters as Hamsun seems to evenly disperse his timeline.Characters have always been a strong point for Hamsun Here readers will find a colorful cast of some of the most human characters since Tolstoy Hamsun has a charm of seemingly bringing you into the ever growing Sellenara home of Isak and Inger and allowing you to cozy up by the fire with the family You watch their struggles, successes, sadness and share in the local gossip over the course of generations, giving the novel a feel that will put fans of East of Eden or The Good Earth right at home You feel as if characters such as the comical busybody Oline are real neighborhood kooks that you encounter and not just some name on a page, so when reading about their actions it causes you to laugh and say oh she would say or do that Geissler, the enigmatic manic depressive who turns up from time to time, is the books most memorable character His monologue near the end will echo within you for months to come and contains a message that is still timely today.The real heart of this novel, however, is the land itself The focus primarily remains out in the wilderness and usually stays behind amongst the fields and mountains even when characters travel into town Hamsun seems to poke fun atcivilized trifles as he juxtaposes city and country characters often through the lens of the backlands where a need for an impressive set of clothes and status icons such as a cane seem foolish and juvenile He shows the land as being the true home and heart of a family, as the characters rely upon the land and live off the fruits of their blood and sweat There is magical little moments where the natural world and the human world comingle spiritually where Inger witnesses tiny fish singing to her or when the ducks seem to speak to the son with their voice passing through his soul The poet Wislawa Szymborska wrote Even a simple hi there, when traded with a fish, makes both the fish and you feel quite extraordinaryand these spiritual exchanges between man and the land greeting each other brings out a deep inner beauty of the novel.Knut Hamsun has a power to take such a mundane chain of events and portray it in verbal majesty to rival the overgrown backlands of Norway It is no surprise the Nobel committee honored him with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1920 shortly after this novel achieved great success If you want to take a trip to your roots and revert back to nature, which Hamsun would argue is the way it should be, this is a perfect novel for you It rewards a patient reader, as it slowly reveals its heart if you sit back, relax and let it unfold around you like a morning sunrise This is could be a great introduction to Hamsun, although I would recommed Hunger over this as it isaccessible.And then it was evening, and I need to go to sleep.5 5 Despite the fact that this book won Hamsun a Nobel Prize in Literature, it is often Hamsun s most misunderstood novel Not much seems to happen in the 400 pages of Isak a mysterious, near god like figure building his farm Even when things do happen, Hamsun s writing is surprisingly calm despite the possibility of disaster What I believe it comes down to is this This books is not so much about Isak changing as it is about the modern world encroaching on Isak s life From the strange section in which Isak has to be led through the process of obtaining legal ownership of the land he has tilled for decades, to the son who appears less and less at the family estate, to finally Isak seeing an apparition of the Devil in the forest he has traversed for years, this book is ultimately not a story of a man who changes, but of changes circling a man of a dying breed. A Grand, Sweeping Saga Of Sacrifice And Struggle, This Epic Tale Recaptures The World Of Norwegian Homesteaders At The Turn Of The Th Century It Created An International Sensation Upon First Publication And Led To The Author SNobel Prize In Literature Rich In Symbolism, It Continues To Resonate With Modern Readers Today It started off greatly Great setting, close to nature and a farmer as protagonist Isaac is a tiller of soil and loves his job passionately And continues doing it, refusing better opportunities and while a whole town develops around him, he still continues to look down upon anything industrial There are a couple of powerful scenes scattered around as well such as one where he can t dig out a rock because of his ageing body and is embarrassed or where he must seek the legal ownership of land he thought he had owned for such a long time.Books about lives close to nature are something I like but you need to have a plot in there somewhere It is not that nothing happens in the novel, in fact a lot, too much happens in the novel Humsun seems to have fit a Marathon ground in space of a 1000 meter track, but none of the action derives the message home, whatever the message is There are, for example, two incidences of infanticides done by new mothers and I don t know what the point was that new mothers should not be left alone with babies I mean who else would care for those little, ugly, smelling, foolish things It is same with rest of the novel, a lot of action that didn t prompt much of thinking in me Moreover Isac was too self sure and his confidence always found success Bad seasons didn t distress him, as they would, IMO, any farmer, especially in days when artificial methods of harvesting weren t available and there were so few of thoess bad seasons The only source of problems, besides new mothers and women in general that is, was modernity and society Those are like devilish inspirations which fill minds of people with all sorts of wicked wishes to live in them I could like societies to move closer to nature find a balance,trees andtolerance to animals and stuff, but returning to complete primitivism is totally another thing and that, unfortunately, was centeral theme of novel if you were to be believe Wiki Isac was an Humsun s idea of an ideal man and like all writers wanting to depict their idea of ideal man, Humsun seems to have forgotten that people are diverse There is none of that beauty of his other novel Hungar in here. 3.5 5I d like to say the controversy of the author s political beliefs does not affect my rating in the slightest, but that is almost certainly a lie Saddening as it is, the knowledge made me a littlemindful and a lot less forgiving of the fundamental differences of opinion between the author and myself Ultimately, it was the glorious reception that the book has been met with that made me decide on a lower rating This is not one of those tomes that require my defense.What I enjoyed was the easy pace, the healthy tendrils of culturally rich storyline, the understated poetry of humans fully committed to their landscape What I didn t enjoy was the overt polemicizing, not out of any general dislike for such things but the fact of my many disagreements Sometimes the naturalness of this occurring with certain authors dissuades me from thinking less of their books, but here it is impossible to belittle what I didn t like in order to portray the book in a better light to others.If you know me, you know what s coming, and while I d like to stop bothering myself over poor portrayal of women and other aspects correlating with my personal characteristics, it s not going to happen any time soon However, there s something new added to my usual stew of complaints Hamsun s portrayal of living in anything larger than a single farmstead, and the judgment he passes on those towns, cities, and all its citizens The cornerstone of this novel are the cares and characteristics of one Isak strong, single minded, and wholly subsumed in his desire to make his living on the soil Unlike Independent People, all of his work bears fruit to an extraordinary degree, as does everyone and everything else around him so long as it submits to his way of living Anything that goes against this is wrong, weak, spoiled and unnatural with the blame for such often lying in the midst of many an urbanized center It happens to his wife Inger, it happens to his son Eleseus, over and over again Hamsun builds up these straw efforts to live on something other than rural fortitude and knocks them down again I wouldn t have minded it nearly so much if Hamsun hadn t been so smug about the misfortunes of his characters whenever they deviate from the superhuman farmer mentality I also wouldn t have minded had he at least been consistent about his lauding and condemnations.Geissler It gets my goat when all the life threatening dangers and complex issues of giving birth in rural areas are bundled off into sensationalist accounts of infanticide and demonized women with severely belittled arguments galore, while the insufferably proud and corrupt politician Geissler is turned into a glorified trickster god simply because he makes Isak happy What is Geissler if not the hallmark of urban power, his wealth and fame built off of deceitful machinations, his only reason for cozening himself with Isak being revenge on the town that justly indicted him, all of this portrayed by Hamsun as not just acceptable, but heroic I have to wonder how the story would have gone if Isak had been truly left to living solely off his land how well it would have gone had Geissler yet again abused the rural landowner s lack of real estate knowledge and traded their copper mine for a far paltrier sum that ran out far before the book was through It s also funny to note that while everyone else becomestwisted and malformed the longer they stay in urban centers, Geissler simply wanders unscathed through some sort of mysterious unknown when he s not dropping in to coddle his investment in Isak He s not writing his letters to get Inger a lighter sentence and negotiating with his wife s family for financial assurance out in the rural home so esteemed in the book, that s for sure So where s the something rotting him from within akin to the case of Elesus Nowhere Hamsun can tell.All of this amounts to a single issue Hamsun obviously has a message, and I m not buying it Not everyone has the physical strength and soul consuming interest in building and growing and shiny tools to take the path Isak did and become rich in the process Not everyone has the sheer luck to claim copper ridden land and not be cheated of it due to complete ignorance, or have that luck and ignorance extend to the realities of childbirth and just what physical and psychological traumas can occur due to having a womb, a male home provider who wants sex, and no contraception The rating would have done better had I liked the prose or setting or cultural saturation , or not read the farcomplex and nonjudgmental Independent People beforehand However, if you want to convince me of positives of bucolic living, making a big deal out of certain issues at the expense of others that I hold close to my heart is not the way to do it. 6 Estrelas picas Aquela vereda comprida, comprid ssima que atravessa os p ntanos e a floresta quem a abriu ao percorr la O homem, um ser humano, o primeiro que aqui surgiu Antes da sua chegada, n o havia caminho P g 7 assim come a Os Frutos da Terra , esse homem, esse ser humano Isak Um homem caminha vindo de norte Transporta um saco o primeiro saco que cont m um farnel e alguns apetrechos O homem forte e rude, e tem uma barba de um vermelho ferro e pequenas cicatrizes no rosto e nas m os, testemunhos de velhas feridas obteve as a trabalhar ou em brigas Caminha Quando alcan a um s tio agrad vel, um espa o aberto na floresta, caminha O homem anui, a fim de confirmar que se estabelecer ali e, de facto, o que faz, ali que assenta arraiais A pior parte fora encontrar o s tio mais prop cio, aquela terra de ningu m que, contudo, lhe pertence agora os seus dias preenchem se com trabalho P g 7 8 Isak encontrou a sua terra atrav s de um lap o errante pretende encontrar a sua mulher N o conheces, por acaso uma mulher que me possa ajudar N o Mas posso espalhar a palavra por onde viajar F lo Diz que tenho animais e ningu m que cuide deles P g 9 essa mulher ser Inger, que chegou e nunca partiu O amor transforma os s bios em tolosP g 14 uma companheira com a boca desfigurada, o l bio leporino, desembara ada e diligente, uma b n o.Isak Amund Rydland Filme Markens gr de 1921 de Gunnar Sommerfeldt Isak edifica uma habita o uma cabana de turfa, apertada e quente e a fam lia aumenta primeiro nascem dois rapazes, Eleseus e Sivert, dois filhos muito diferentes no comportamento e na atitude mais tarde duas raparigas, Leopoldina e Rebecca Isak Amund Rydland e Inger Karen Poulsen Filme Markens gr de 1921 de Gunnar Sommerfeldt Knut Hamsun constr i a narrativa de Os Frutos da Terra em duas partes a Parte I e a Parte II, duas hist rias interligadas na Parte I o relato centra se, essencialmente, em Isak, um homem trabalhador e determinado, excepcionalmente virtuoso e individualista, com c digos de honra e conduta irrepreens veis, humilde e honesto, com uma reputa o imaculada, conquista o respeito de todas as pessoas detesta as tarefas burocr ticas, come a por desbravar uma rea in spita e pantanosa, tornando a ar vel, adora a terra, os animais e as rvores, gerindo ambientalmente a floresta, um verdadeiro empreendedor, que investe, sistematicamente, na constru o e amplia o das suas instala es agr colas e pecu rias, que se moderniza, nomeadamente, na aquisi o e utiliza o das novas tecnologias agr colas e florestais, tornando Sellanraa, numa quinta modelo e Isak num homem rico, com notoriedade e sucesso, apesar de n o saber ler e escrever Independentemente das vicissitudes e da extrema dificuldade do trabalho agr cola e florestal, Isak e Inger, enfrentam as adversidades decorrentes dessas tarefas e das contrariedades climat ricas inerentes localiza o da sua quinta no norte da Noruega, sempre com um sorriso nos l bios Na Parte II, Knut Hamsun estrutura a narrativa, basicamente, nas viv ncias de Aksel Strom, propriet rio da quinta Maaneland, na rela o conturbada com a sua criada, Barbro, filha de Brede Olsen, um agricultor falhado que acaba por perder a sua propriedade Breidablik Das in meras personagens secund rias, destaco uma o meirinho Geissler, mais tarde, ex funcion rio local, que se torna num empreendedor, um sonhador inveterado, que mant m com Isak uma m tua rela o de amizade e confian a Ap s a publica o em 1917 de Os Frutos da Terra , no original Markens Gr de , Knut Hamsun galardoado em 1920 com o Pr mio Nobel da Literatura H uma quest o controversa directamente relacionada com Knut Hamsun o facto de ter sido simpatizante nazista e admirador de Adolf Hitler e de Joseph Goebbels, a quem ofereceu a medalha recebida pelo Pr mio Nobel da Literatura Um comportamento pol tico controverso que determina sentimentos ambivalentes em rela o genialidade da sua produ o liter ria Os Frutos da Terra deveria ser um livro de leitura obrigat ria nas Universidades portuguesas, na rea da Gest o, da tica e do Empreendedorismo, no dom nio da Agricultura e da Floresta para os que valorizam a preserva o da fam lia, independentemente, dos percal os amorosos e da felicidade, para os leitores que adoraram Gente Independente.Por fim, dois destaques primeiro, o excepcional trabalho de tradu o do noruegu s do amigo GR Jo o Reis n o f cil traduzir um livro escrito em 1917, com singularidades pr prias na linguagem e nos di logos e, sobretudo, num romance repleto de termos t cnicos ligados agricultura e floresta que evolu ram na sua especificidade e na sua utiliza o s tenho d vida na corti a da b tula segundo, no not vel trabalho editorial da Cavalo de Ferro, a melhor editora portuguesa Os Frutos da Terra um livro deslumbrante, uma hist ria comovente e dram tica, verdadeiramente inesquec vel As much as a reader may want to come before a book with an open mind, there are always at least three barriers to an unadulterated read First and most obviously come the reader s circumstances, his history, his beliefs, his lack of time or his state of mind at any one point of the reading experience The other two are optional and vary depending on the book the cover with all its contents, from the pleasant or poor title, the famous or obscure author, its possible synopsis on the book flap and its aesthetics and the other books the reader has read Vonnegut once wrote that there were but 7 overarching narratives which, with the variation of the settings, characters, and details, made up all literature Any one book on a given topic notably, the never ending list of historical romances, fantasy and sci fi that often seem like botched photocopies of each other will reverberate past reading experience and often call for a comparison with another work Growth of the Soil is, in light of this, a very difficult read to make with a clear mind and a willing openness to its message The reason is, of course, part of the cover namely the author, the Nobel laureate Knut Hamsun Hamsun is well known for his rampant support of the Nazi cause and of their invasion of his native Norway nothing unheard of at the time Perhaps evenparticular is his continued support of Nazism even after the end of WW2, when the elderly Hamsun wrote a eulogy for Hitler singing of his tremendous efforts to renew a proper society It is an old conundrum that cannot be avoided does a book s worth depend on its author, or does it stand alone as a masterpiece I have always firmly believed a work of art to be just that, an independent story that must not be associated with its author and which stands on its own, unalterable, after its completion Hamsun s mastery of storytelling is evident throughout the book, and the raw, dark story of a first settler in an uninhabited area of the Far North and the subsequent establishment of a growing settlement is nothing short of captivating Do Hamsun s Nazi sympathies detract from the story s morals Isaac B Singer, the Nobel laureate of Jewish heritage, a strong post war proponent of the Yiddish literary tradition, vastly praised and defended Hamsun s work as groundbreaking despite its author s anti Semitic views I would have to agree with Singer Hamsun s work is not embedded in his own hateful perspectives But the truth is that it makes it difficult to read the story without subconsciously scouting for the odd remark, the hidden idealism It is distracting And it is perhaps simple to see the connections the conservatism, the love of simple rural life, the despise for the expert or any person undertaking non physical labour It makes it exponentiallycomplicated to understand certain sentences as just a writer proclaiming past, lost ideals without wanting to convey them himself namely, a section where the astute but volatile ex sheriff Geissler, complains that his son is lost to a new generation which cares for nothing worthwhile due to the teaching taught by the Jew and the Yankee.The point of this review is that one can, and should, abstain from this type of analysis With the exception of the above quote, such an analysis of Growth of the Soil would only prove to be an exercise in confirmation bias In fact, Growth of the Soil is at first a story of a man alone in the wild, and a symbiosis between the two that grows from hard work only to then turn into a story about a man and his family no longer alone in the wild, but struggling against society and their own prejudices to maintain whatever way of life they must lead to survive Its perspectives, beyond a call for an ancient harmony between man and nature, of rural values, are surprisingly biting in some of the topics that still haunted the early 20th century infanticide or perhapsrelevant today, abortion universal suffrage the rights of women and the regrettable label of bastardy.So I wholeheartedly recommend this book it reminded me of Laxness Independent People , an equally dark perspective of rural life with a message of hard work and hope It is beautifully written, and it does not come up with any ideological message, although it could well have done. 3.5 The rugged man stood there with a miracle before him a thing created first of all in a sacred mist, showing forth now in life with a little face like an allegory.The writing style of Hamsun s epic is quite different from the other two earlier period Hamsun novels I ve read, and in some ways it reminded me of Buck s The Good Earth, though Hamsun is muchintrusive as a narrator The above sentence is from early on in the novel and is easily my favorite, though it is with the allegorical aspects of this novel that I struggled I struggled evenso with some of Hamsun s ideas, especially those embodied in the female characters.The ending is beautifully written, if too romantic of the land for my tastes Or perhaps it s merely that, my preferences run less to this and muchto this