I am done with 60% of the book and couldn't hold myself from writing something, anything, about the book, with my half-open sleepy eyes.
When I beganI am done with 60% of the book and couldn't hold myself from writing something, anything, about the book, with my half-open sleepy eyes.
When I began this book, I wanted to love Pamuk. Through his interviews and talks, the reviews of his books, and my experience with Snow, I have made some strong opinions about him, which I wanted to change in the course of reading this novel. The opinions remain unscathed, so far, but I almost liked him.
Some observations so far: 1. Osman and Janan are too similar to Ka and Ipek: the male hero (overtly) sentimental, sensitive, vulnerable. The female hero mysterious and angelic. 2. Young people masturbate and watch Porno. Pamuk's insistence related to the religious/moral weather in Turkey? 3. His novel(s) is(/are) superbly planned, writing lacks precision. Too many words (bad), too many themes (good), too many layers (awesome). 4. Pamuk is IMPORTANT. Political reasons. He has contributed tremendously to the postmodern literature (been an avant-garde?) but his voice - where it comes form and what it says - is too crucial in our times. The New Life was a rage in Turkey. What does that mean? Some people picked up this book and their whole life was changed. 5. I am a bad reader. This book, that I will finish in about 3 weeks, will need at least three more weeks of re-reading (and brooding) to be able to even appreciate or denounce the work. All I am able to achieve in my first reading is reaching closer to the end. 6. I will never be able to love Pamuk the writer. Have immense respect, awe, for Pamuk the conjurer, the engineer of ideas, the political philosopher, the explorer of sub-cultures, the voice on the "West".
Back Cover: First published in 1915, Knulp was Hesse's most popular book in the years before Demian. This is the first edition in English. Knulp is an amiBack Cover: First published in 1915, Knulp was Hesse's most popular book in the years before Demian. This is the first edition in English. Knulp is an amiable vagabond who wanders from town to town, staying with friends who feed and shelter him. Consistently refusing to tie himself down to any trade, place, or person, he even deserts the companion who might be considered Hermann Hesse himself the summer they go tramping together. Knulp's exile is blissful, gentle, self-absorbed. But hidden beneath the light surface of these "Tales from the Life of Knulp" is the conscience of an artist who suspects that his liberation is worthless, even immoral. As he lies dying in a snowstorm, Knulp has an interview with God in which he reproaches himself for his wasted life. But it is revealed to Knulp that the whole purpose of his life has been to bring "a little homesickness for freedom" into the lives of ordinary men. ...more
I would rate Hunger as the second greatest novel I have read, the greatest being Joyce's Portrait. This is how novels Ought to be written - describingI would rate Hunger as the second greatest novel I have read, the greatest being Joyce's Portrait. This is how novels Ought to be written - describing, in Hamsun's own words, "the whisper of the blood, and the pleading of the bone marrow".
In Hunger, he embodies an unnamed young protagonist, most likely an immediate version of himself (he was 28 when the book was published), and comes out with a haunting sketch of life which shakes reader to his/her core - even a callous reader reading solely for spotting nuances of the craft :) No, this sketch has no political overtones, and the social commentary, about depreciation in urban life that so many reviewers like to emphasize on, completely escapes me. And though there is scope for, the novel is not laden with unnecessary symbolism and images for Insanity and Hunger.
The achievement of Hamsun is in creating and inhabiting this 'singular' central character, a dilapidated destitute writer, who is extremely sensitive to his surroundings - the slightest of extraneous impulse perfectly capable of arousing an effect on his bearing, thus pushing him towards insanity. The protagonist states about this trait numerous times; for example, very early in the novel, he says, "Nothing escaped my notice; I was clear-headed and ready-witted. Everything rushed in upon me with a gleaming distinctness, as if I were suddenly surrounded by a strong light." And, near the end of the novel, he says (this time directly questioning the judgement of insanity), "Of all this that I stood there and observed not one thing, not even one little accessory detail, was lost on me; my attention was acutely keen; I absorbed carefully every little thing as I stood and thought out my own thought, about each thing according as it occurred. So it was impossible that there could be anything the matter with my brain. How could there, in this case, be anything the matter with it?” I very closely know one such extraordinary person, and so can vouch that the psychological analysis by Hamsun is just too perfect: remarkably integral and hell-deep, so much so that I am convinced that the character can NOT possibly be an invention.
It is not just the external signals, the events outside, that trigger a chain of reactions in him, but the internal signals, the ones arising from extreme hunger and pain, that affect his internal monologue too. The author shows strong connections between physiological and psychological states: both capable of influencing another, and while one can now put his analyses under any school (Freudian most likely; fyi, he shows classic battles between id and super-ego as well), he was only conveying the experience as he himself experienced, first hand. I can only speculate but this is the chief reason for me why he wrote Hunger the way he did, and why he titled it so. Nowhere in literature then was a story, and life altogether, narrated as it was experienced (Freud was only 32 - the famous inward movements hadn’t yet begun, and Joyce, Woolf, Faulkner came after him). Aren't we situated all the time at this cubic centimeter of space three inches to the left of our right ears, behind the eyes? Isn't from that singular place all of life is seen and comprehended? Isn't that very place the stage for all the dramas of life?
It is this question that this Nobel Prize winning but forgotten writer asks, and it is this question that is of utmost importance for Literature in the times now. Let's just stop piling up same stories upon same stories upon same stories upon...
Note: I noticed at least five places where there is an abrupt change to Present Tense and change back to Past Tense after 2-3 sentences. Some critics find that as a delectable intentional change to show the unreliability of the narrator. Hmmm. A little too vague for me, but maybe that’s the point. ...more