Hunger Background

Hunger Background

Hunger is a novel written by Knut Hamsun in 1890. The book mainly revolves around an unnamed vagrant who is very intellectual leanings and wanders around the streets of Norway's capital, Oslo, in pursuit of nourishment. The unnamed character also has some chivalry, as he gives money and clothes to needy children and vagrants, not eating food given to him. Essentially self-destructive, he falls into traps of his own making, and with a lack of food, warmth and basic comfort, his body turns slowly to ruin. Overwhelmed by hunger, he scrounges for meals. The unnamed character has no feelings towards 'society' and blames his fate on 'God' or a divine world order. He experiences a major artistic and financial triumph when he sells a text to a newspaper, but despite this he finds writing increasingly difficult. However, this triumph does not last long and as the book comes to a close, he signs on to the crew of a ship leaving the city.

The novel was written by the author to indicate the average person in society who tries to improve their situation by working and also someone noble who tries to help others but still is given the short end of the stick as they can never be truly successful. The author displays the rise of chivalry of a person and then finally their demise as they cannot improve their lives and so seek their fortunes elsewhere.

The book was received well by both critics and fans alike. In fact, the Observer, a British newspaper, has described the book as "the crux of Hamsun’s claims to mastery. This is the classic novel of humiliation" and the London Review of Books has commented that "Hunger was published in 1890 and its power has not faded."

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