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4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,248 Ratings  ·  188 Reviews
In a Norwegian coastal town, society's carefully woven threads begin to unravel when an unsettling stranger named Johan Nagel arrives. With an often brutal insight into human nature, Nagel draws out the townsfolk, exposing their darkest instincts and suppressed desires. At once arrogant and unassuming, righteous and depraved, Nagel seduces the entire community even as he t ...more
Paperback, 348 pages
Published August 8th 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1892)
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonPippi Longstocking by Astrid LindgrenThe Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg LarssonThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg LarssonHunger by Knut Hamsun
Best Scandinavian and Nordic Literature
51st out of 901 books — 921 voters
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Mar 18, 2012 s.penkevich rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: You should probably add this to your 'to-read' list
Hamsun’s aptly named second novel, Mysteries, is a dazzling, dark look into human nature and man’s psyche. It is no surprise that Henry Miller claimed that Mysteries was ’closer to me than any book I have read,’ this novel is so probing and insightful that you feel it begin to pick your own mind as the pages churn by. Written in 1892, just 2 years following Hunger, this novel once again demonstrates Hamsun’s signature frantic yet serene prose while showcasing Hamsun as a Modernist far ahead of h ...more
I refused to read Hamsun for a long time, on the grounds that he was a Nazi sympathizer. But I started getting interested in modern Norwegian literature a couple of years ago, and in the end I had to give in. You just can't avoid him; he's referred to everywhere. And if I find him hard to deal with, I'm comforted by the fact that it's much worse for the Norwegians.

Let me expand on that a bit. I'm English by birth, and I've also lived a fair amount of my life in Sweden and the US. None of those c
Ben Winch
Jun 03, 2012 Ben Winch rated it it was amazing
When I was a teenager my dad urged 2 novels on me - Hermann Hesse's Glass Bead Game and Knut Hamsun's Hunger - which I consider all-time favourites to this day. Hesse I loved immediately; I read everything of his I could find. But Hamsun took a little longer. Upon first reading Hunger I thought, 'Huh? That's it?' It's not that I didn't like it, but it perplexed me. Hesse - and most if not all of my parents' other recommendations (Marquez, Kundera, Eco, Grass) - had seemed so... grand, somehow. E ...more
Emilian Kasemi
Sep 06, 2012 Emilian Kasemi rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Emilian by: s.penkevich
I finished the book, I loved it, I will reread it.
Truly masterful writing which I enjoyed from the first to the last page. The story was mind-bending that I just couldn't wrap my head around. I wanted to read it without stopping but simultaneously I often put the book down and thought...Not knowing exactly what.
I was fascinated by this character; Nagel.
He is neurasthenic and disoriented, extravagant and charming.
Nagel is madness and weakness, a personification of instability and contradictions.
Aug 01, 2013 Deepthi rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Deepthi by: s.penkevich
Shelves: favorites
In the middle of the summer of 1891 the most extraordinary things began happening in a small Norwegian coastal town. A stranger by the name of Nagel appeared, a singular character who shook the town by his eccentric behavior and then vanished suddenly as he had come.

This is how Hamsun introduces us to Nagel, his yellow suit and his world of mysteries. I finished this book an hour ago. I spent my night reading this breathtaking novel. And for the past one hour I have been sitting in from of my l
Mamdouh Abdullah
لم تُمنح جائزة نوبل قط لمستحق لها بقامة كنوت هامسون.
توماس مان.

في مقالة للمؤرخ اليساري هوارد زن يشير إلى أن وظيفة المبدع، أي مبدع سواء في الأدب أو الموسيقى أو الرسم، هو أن ينتج ويقدم أعمال جميلة للجمهور فقط. يبدع من تلقاء نفسه ويقدم ما يعتقد بأنها مادة جميلة: يمنح الجمال والضحك والعاطفة والمفاجأة والدراما. لكن هناك أعمال يجب على المبدع أن يفعلها، وهي أكبر من مهمة الإبداع، وهذه الأعمال تتمثل بأن يتسامى على ما هو حالي، يترفع على جنون العالم والرعب، يحاول أن يبعد عن الجمهور لحظات الرعب والخوف. يجب
Jun 30, 2014 Rod rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rod by: Billy Childish

Yes. "Mercurial." That is the word that kept coming to my mind to describe Johan Nagel, the central character of Knut Hamsun's masterful Mysteries. Specifically, entries 2 and 4. Maybe not "thievishness" (though I wouldn't put it past him--not for a second), but Nagel embodied the other characteristics so much that I often found myself wondering if he was actually a flesh-and-blood human or some kind of earthbound trickster god sentenced by the "All-Father" to live among the mortals. I doubt it,
Jun 18, 2015 Gilla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: north-european
Scritto nel 1892, questo romanzo è un inno alla diversità di una freschezza disarmante. "E io, uomo isolato, resisto e punto i piedi, dicendo che invece è ragionevole. Cosa sa la gente? Niente! Ci si abitua soltanto a una cosa, la si accetta, la si riconosce perché i nostri maestri la riconobbero già prima, tutto non è che accettazione. Il mondo non sa nulla, accetta soltanto..." E ancora: "E io non riesco a vedere come sia solo teoria, proprio non ci riesco, che il Signore mi aiuti, così malede ...more
Oct 16, 2009 David rated it it was amazing
Henry Miller described Mysteries as ‘…closer to me than any other book I have read’. I’m no Henry Miller, but it is a very dear book to me too, quite like a close friend. It seems that there is no getting to the bottom of it, no matter how many times you engage with it, just like a human being. On a first reading it is seems a mere catalogue of disconnected events taking place in small town, with a stranger called Nagel at their centre, who has arrived on a steamer. He comes and goes and behaves ...more
Jan 18, 2016 Evgeniya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Привидно "далечна" книга, която обаче се оказа съвършеното лично изживяване за мен. Прочетох първите страници в чудене какво точно се случва в рамките на този северен сюжет, докато изведнъж, почти неочаквано, не се усетих съвършено близка с главния герой. Нагел - дезориентиран, нерешителен, но пък и толкова категоричен!, нетърпелив, шедър, толкова... увличащо противорчив.

Кнут Хамсун не е разказвач, по-скоро е мистификатор; такъв, който подвежда, за да отведе някъде; който заблужава, за да разкри
João Carlos
Nos últimos tempos li quatro obras fundamentais do escritor norueguês Knut Hamsun (1859-1939), laureado com o Prémio Nobel da Literatura em 1920, “Fome” (1890), “Mistérios” (1892), “Pan” (1894) e “Victoria” (1898), todas publicadas pela editora “Cavalo de Ferro”.
“Mistérios” é para mim o melhor dos referenciados quatro romances – sem a crueza errática de um jovem escritor que deambula por Kristiania (actual Oslo), “acompanhado” pelos seus pesadelos e pelos seus sonhos em “Fome” ou as românticas n
Jan 05, 2015 Carla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Um livro indispensável que apresenta ao leitor uma das mais desconcertantes personagens da história da literatura, Johan Nielsen Nagel, um excêntrico que desembarca numa pequena cidade norueguesa sem uma intenção pré-definida acabando por expor o seu carácter inconstante, inventivo e auto-destrutivo ao mesmo tempo que "descarna" os mistérios que povoam a cidade e que assombram os seus habitantes...

Bem, e que dizer de Grogaard, o Anão? E da mulher alta e esguia com o crucifixo de pedras verdes? M
Thi T.
Nov 10, 2011 Thi T. rated it it was amazing
I adore Knut Hamsun's ability to write such realistic internal monologue. A friend recommended this book to me when I told him that one day in the lab, I was suddenly hit with the paranoia that I had gotten a drop of hydrofluoric acid on myself, and was somewhat convinced that there was a chance I could die right there. One of the scenes in this book describes perfectly what that feeling is like and what ridiculous thoughts run through your mind during such a moment. Definitely will go back and ...more
Jul 16, 2008 Bryan rated it it was amazing
this was fabulous; incredible; superlative-full. i have rarely come across such passionate writing; the passion coupling with the character of nagel, a solid plot...the scope of the subject matter is large, and i would need to read the book again to gain a more full understanding of what is going on, on the implications of hte story, in just grasping as much as i can of what i feel Hamsun was talking about, relating that to life. this is something that needs to be meditated upon, i think. or at ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
A man, Johan Nilsen Nagel, blew into town a created a stir because of his uncetain origins, unpredictable behavior and sometimes odd appearance. He'd try to help some people but would often be misunderstood. He himself would also be confused about his own motivations.

I read this as an allegory. Passages and phrases here and there reminded me of the biblical story of Jesus Christ. Even the way Nagel died here hints strongly of Christ's agony on the cross and in the Garden of Gethsemane before he
Apr 07, 2011 James rated it it was amazing
I was introduced to the author Knut Hamsun by reading his first novel, Hunger. It is a Dostoevskian tale of a young journalist who is literally starving to death. His story is about trying to write and live while not even being able to afford a scrap of food, pawning his vest to be able to survive a few more days. It is a searing story that one does not forget. I had reread that book about a year ago, but still had not tackled any of Hamsun's other works before I had picked this book. My expecta ...more
Jim Leckband
Sep 17, 2011 Jim Leckband rated it it was ok
I've always wanted to read a book by an author named Knut. But first let me give you 200 crowns and I'll tell you a story that happened to me in San Francisco. First, though, I'm in love with you and I can't live without you. I can't really play the violin even though I have a violin case but everybody in town wants me to play. You're really a very sinister person underneath - it might not look like it now, but you will turn out badly - like The Midget. The dastardly midget replaced my prussic a ...more
Much weaker than Growth of the Soil, Hunger, or Pan. Disappointing. Hard to stick with. Zone outs aplenty. Didn't engage me. Wonky translation, or at least one that could use an update. Romantic proto-hippie maniac. All over the place. Cool bit with an angel hallucination. But mostly just not clear enough on a language level. Bailed on page 117, never to return.
Hend AlEssa
Nov 16, 2014 Hend AlEssa rated it it was amazing
I finished reading this novel with a strange sense of detachment, alienation and silence. I didnt know what do I think of it, maybe I was totally puzzled, maybe because I read Hunger first and i kept on falling in the trap of comparing it with other Hamsun's novels. To be honest, sometimes I think it's wrong to read an author's masterpiece before his/her other novels. despite the fact that he didn't receive his nobel prize for Hunger. However, that novel left me totally with a different perspect ...more
Sep 08, 2008 Madhuri rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, nobel, norwegian
I will make my character laugh where sensible people think he ought to cry.

And why? Because my hero is no character, no 'type,' ... but a complex, modern being.

- Knut Hamsun

I don't know whether Hamsun spoke these words to describe the character of Nagel in his work Mysteries, but I can say that in Nagel, he was successful in what he intended to carry out. Even though he does not want to call his hero a character, I found the (anti?)protagonist of Mysteries to be a remarkable character - for his
Nov 04, 2008 Geoff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though not a perfect book, Hamsun has again created a unique character, a unique atmosphere, and something resembling Musil's "man without qualities" in the person of Nagel. Mysteries, in some ways, supercedes "Hunger" in scope and depth of writing, but is much more disorganized and not as consistent in tone. Both Hunger and Mysteries simmered and seethed with nervousness, desperation, exhausted illumination, and fascinating strangeness, but where Hunger flowed essentially like four movements of ...more
This was my first Knut Hamsun novel. I finished it just now and I'm pretty shook up. I can't remember being this affected by a book since Camus' "The Stranger". These are not only modernist books, they are provocations. Both deal with existential angst and absurdity of life from the uniquely different perspective of their authors. While Camus was responding to WW2 horrors, Hamsun is attacking the prevailing styles in Scandinavian literature (Bjornsson, Ibsen, etc were prime targets) and also env ...more
Its first lines make one insatiable for all that is to come; its last, profoundly sad that all that was to come has came and went. It is not a great novel, but there is more greatness in it than in a great many great novels.
Andrew Schirmer
Jan 11, 2013 Andrew Schirmer rated it it was amazing
Sometimes I ask myself why I ever bothered to study Russian. Bergman speaks to me in ways that Tarkovsky never will (we have a tradition of watching the complete Fanny och Alexander every Christmas), I'd rather eat at Copenhagen's Noma than anywhere in Russia, and Knut Hamsun's novels are far superior to anything Dostoevsky ever wrote. Well, I've only read this one, but I've got a gut feeling...

The plot of Mysteries is extremely simple--a strange man, Nagel, comes to town. An inferior novelist w
Eldonfoil TH*E Whatever Champion
Aug 30, 2011 Eldonfoil TH*E Whatever Champion rated it really liked it
Shelves: nordic
Shooting from the hip here..........Not really sure what to make of this yet and will have to read some more Hamsun before deciding. While the book is almost a point blank shout down my alley, a pie recipe with my name on it, I can't definitively get a bit of Gerber's out of my head. My anti-hero (and Hamsun) clearly feels some fabulous paganism, plays transcendental nature over hypocritical humanity from a little black and white box, cries at the thought of what will happen as technology and sc ...more
Nov 03, 2008 Zack rated it it was amazing
Every Knut Hamsun book is totally different from every other. I mean, this one's superior to Growth of the Soil, even possibly to Hunger, but it's such a different kind of book comparisons aren't really fair. For some reason, another Hamsun book, Pan, also totally different from any of the others, is dedicated by him to Johan Nilssen Nagel, the (fictional?) protagonist of Mysteries. This is his second book, written right after Hunger, and carries the same kind of fire, but this time way more inv ...more
Кремена Михайлова
С една дума - „стъклена”.
С повече думи – мъчително общуване и размишления в монолози и диалози, нещо като „психологически портрет” на характерен особняк. Олекотяването идва от абсурда, който буди смях на повърхността (болезненото е „отдолу”).

Главният герой Нагел - интересна, ексцентрична личност, размърдваща застоялото – но... неспасяем самотник. Провокативен, фин манипулатор. „Плътен” образ въпреки загадъчността, чудатостта и липсата на информация за предишния му живот. Контраст между „студенат
Mar 29, 2013 Хейко rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Не мога да определя еднозначно как точно почувствах тази книга. Нищо не ми се затвърждаваше като основна идея, тъкмо решавам, че съм схванала и хоп, оказва се илюзия. В началото мислех, че имам насреща си един самохвалко, дърдорко, после блъфьор, луд, мечтател, който не спира с монолозите. Едва след като се върнах да препрочитам отделни пасажи, забелязах, въпреки че се оправдава пред другите за своите психоанализи, че е хитър лицемер и сякаш не държи хората да го разбират, Нагел се обръща към Бо ...more
Nov 10, 2013 RandomAnthony rated it really liked it
My friend Erik wrote a good review of this novel. We happened to read Mysteries concurrently although our responses differed:

I liked Mysteries more than Mr. Simon, although background knowledge impacted my reading as well and probably left me self-conscious. Hesse, Fante, and Bukowski praise Hamsun big-time and I've heard the whole "father of modernist literature" description although I only sort of get what that means. Hamsun's innovations didn't seem all
Luís Miguel
Feb 06, 2014 Luís Miguel rated it it was amazing
Hamsun ganhou o nobel em 1920 por "Markens Grøde/Crescimento do Solo", no entanto, cerca de 25 anos antes havia escrito este belíssimo Mysterier. É uma obra enganadoramente fácil de ler, pois o seu conteúdo complexo e cerebral deixou-me apenas com cojecturas abstractas e formulações rebuscadas sobre o sentido e justificação para algumas personagens e as suas acções. A narrativa incide sobre a chegada de um estranho, Johan Nagel, a uma pequena cidade costeira (qual era o seu nome mesmo?) e o impa ...more
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Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920 "for his monumental work, Growth of the Soil". He insisted that the intricacies of the human mind ought to be the main object of modern literature, to describe the "whisper of the blood, and the pleading of the bone marrow". Hamsun pursued his literary program, debuting in 1890 with the psychological novel Hunger.
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“But what really matters is not what you believe but the faith and conviction with which you believe…” 32 likes
“There are some people who cannot help giving. Why? Because they experience a real psychological pleasure in doing so. They don't do it with an eye to their own advantage, they do it on the quiet; they detest doing it openly because that would take away some of the satisfaction. They do it in secret, with quick trembling hands, their breasts rocked by a spiritual well being which they do not themselves understand.” 24 likes
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