digbybare's Reviews > Hunger

Hunger by Knut Hamsun
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U 50x66
's review
Jan 11, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, classics
Read from January 04 to 11, 2010 , read count: 1

Very enjoyable and much more humorous than I had imagined. The constant switching between past and present tense, as well as the free indirect speech really makes this feel like the ramblings of someone slowly going mad. It did really well in its goal, to "describe the life of the mind." It paints a very convincing and fascinating portrait of one man. The influence this had on books like Catcher in the Rye are very clear.

At first, I thought the narrator was very much like the Underground Man. However, thinking more, there are very clear differences. Whereas the Underground Man consciously rejects society, the narrator here would love to rejoin it. The Underground man is immobilized by consciousness, his awkwardness stems from his constantly second guessing his own actions and overanalyzing the actions of others. Here, the narrator often acts without thought, or acts even when he knows he's sabotaging himself, as though a compulsion is driving him toward insanity even when he's consciously aware of the craziness of his actions. There are similarities however. Both seem to simultaneously have very low self-esteem while also being very self-aggrandizing. The Underground Man attributes his awkwardness to being too smart, conscious in a way that ordinary people aren't. The narrator here thinks himself to be a very great writer, and that the world is simply working against him. Both are also in love with Romantic ideals, and do actions which would fit in a romantic novel but are incongruous with real life, for example, the Underground Man's giving Liza the money and the narrator giving leaving his last cake at the door of the boy who was spit on.
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