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Segen der Erde

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  7,554 ratings  ·  537 reviews
Unter Verwendung autobiographischer Elemente erzählt Hamsun die Geschichte Isaks, des Bauern, der in der Einsamkeit des Nordlandes dem Moor ein Stück Erde abringt, es urbar und zu einer fruchtbaren, weithin angesehenen Oase des Lebens für viele macht.

In seiner einfachen, manchmal biblisch anmutenden Sprache ist der Roman weder nur Heimat- noch nur realistisch erzählter Bau
Paperback, 340 pages
Published February 1999 by deutscher taschenbuch verlag (first published 1917)
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Mustafa Ali Saba Very romantic book, human essence, the connection between man and nature. I really recommend this, it would change your life.
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4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,554 ratings  ·  537 reviews

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“Growth of the soil was something different, a thing to be procured at any cost; the only source, the origin of all. A dull and desolate existence? Nay, least of all. A man had everything; his powers above, his dreams, his loves, his wealth of superstition.”

Having spent most of a weekend driving through the woods in Värmland, close to the Norwegian border, reflecting on the strange way in which time seems to have stopped there in the remote countryside, I remembered my phase of passionate Lagerl
Steven Godin
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 d ...more
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nature enthusiasts and those willing to look into the eyes of a master
'Then comes the evening.' Those 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 autho
Jul 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 secti ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
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 ...more
Sidharth Vardhan
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 ...more

I'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 little more mindful 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
João Fernandes
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nobel
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 an ...more
Apr 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

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 much more intrusive as a narrator. The above sentence is from early on in the novel and is easily my favorite, though it is with the allegoric
Suggestions for Further Reading

--Growth of the Soil

Explanatory Notes
Textual Notes
Lee Klein
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Expected proto-Nazi narrative propaganda. Instead found a mythic Norwegian backwoods agrarian Winesburg, Ohio emphasizing the virtue of hardwork/productivity for its own sake, cultivation (of soil and spirit), necessity over frivolity or desire for something more than nature provides, and literal/figurative rootedness. Loved the steady tone, how the tense switches within paragraphs (present tense for scenes, otherwise simple or continual past). Like in Tolstoy, POV able to access thoughts of so ...more
Lynne King
A ten star book and a true masterpiece. What more can one possibly say?

I will state what H. G. Wells 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".

I follow his thoughts entirely.

This novel is divided into two books.

Isak goes i
Clif Hostetler
Sep 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
Growth of the Soil, is a novel by Knut Hamsun which won him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920. It follows the story of a Norwegian man who settles on undeveloped wooded land in rural Norway. The author clearly wanted to make the point that the soil is the source of true value, and that hard work consistently applied over many years was required to turn that inherent value into wealth. As part of the plot the author shows that the apparent easy wealth from mining is illusory.

To illustrate th
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm descended from farmers, as far back as our genealogy can tell. Potatoes and grain on one side, and rice on the other. I grew up in this kind of place, too, and seen the tough self-reliance that these people value.

Which is why, despite my thin veneer of urbane culture, I feel something like nostalgia for some aspects of this rural existence. Modern life encroaches on them.

The author later became a fascist reactionary - highly critical of this modern lifestyle. As a general rule, people don't
Elena Holmgren
Mar 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An effort to uncover and tell anew, with the technical means provided by the modern novel, the primal story that underlies all our partial stories. Leithauser's words from the introduction are apt here - this book has something to do, in its core theme, literary technique, and epistemic orientation alike, with "the most fundamental story in the world": it explores what it is, and how we might come to tell it. In the telling are involved a joint act of remembrance, but also of discovery, of pushi ...more
Rob Squires
Aug 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-classics
This is what made me want to read this book:

From My Reading Life by Pat Conroy (pages 163-164):

“On this day, Norman removed a book from its shelf. Whenever he presented me with a book, it had a ceremonious feel, as though he were laying a sword on my shoulder inducting me into an ancient brotherhood.

The book was Growth of the Soil by the Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun. The copy he gave me had once belonged to Norma M. Saylor, who lived in Palmyra, New Jersey.

‘It’s an essential book. A necessary
Feb 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
(3.5) Such a simple novel, Hamsun's 'Growth of the Soil' is known as his greatest novel (at least that's what the cover says!). Having read both 'Mysteries' and 'Hunger', it might be hard for me to say this is better than either/or. This one reminds me a lot of the simplicity of John Williams's "Stoner", but with a lot less emotion. I sometimes feel a sense that this is more of an allegorical work in regards to the biblical Garden of Eden, Abel/Cain parable. I never felt bored, but I don't see t ...more
Nutty NUUT read

To find Project Gutenberg provides:

Translated from the Norwegian by W.W. WORSTER

The long, long road over the moors and up into the forest--who trod it into being first of all? Man, a human being, the first that came here. There was no path before he came. Afterward, some beast or other, following the faint tracks over marsh and moorland, wearing them deeper; after these again some Lapp gained scent of the path,
J.M. Hushour
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Man and nature do not bombard each other; they are agreed."

Re-reading this after many years, I still find it to be a simple treasure and a guidepost for how a perfect novel can be constructed with absolutely no regard for whorish analysis.
A fellow wanders into northern Norway and clears land for a little hut. What happens next over the ensuing 30 years is the entire novel. There are many themes, many characters, and endless wonderful things and some not so wonderful (the issue of infanticide as
May 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book of profound and epic scope, it is a story of a lonely man who with his own hands builds a house, a family and ultimately a whole township in the bleak north of is a story of the essence of man, of simplicity and stubbornness in the face of nature's ravages, it is a story of the essential character of man himself.

When I see a potter lovingly shape a bowl out of earth, a tiller in a lonely field who leaves behind an endless track on the soil, or a jogger on his lonesome quest, I
Jan 09, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
At the beginning I enjoyed the ambitious, epic scope of the book and the compelling narrative. But as I read I became increasingly uneasy with the way the omniscient narrator lines up all things male and agrarian with virtue and wisdom, while female and town are equated with vanity, shallowness and corruption. I found myself more and more skeptical of his romantic glorification of a life without doctors, dentists or indoor plumbing--let alone books or art. It sounded like a familiar myth, someth ...more
Wasn't sure whether to shelve this as "classics newly read" or "classics read anew." I could swear I read this during my "Hamsun phase," brought on by the high praise of the Lost Generation writers (circa 1920s). In any event, if I did read this in my own "circa 20s" (gee, was I once 20-something?), I've since forgotten every and thing. It doesn't transcend Pan: From Lieutenant Thomas Glahn's Papers, but it certainly transcends most books. One hundred and ninety-five years later, it has staying ...more
Richard Stuart
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book of humble means and beginnings that transforms itself into the complex tapestry of human beings conspiring with nature to at first, just exist. Then, if all is diligent perseverance and hard work, secondly, to succeed and grow not only the land but themselves as well. Well written, with characters that range from the steadfast and quixotic to the conniving... glorious characterizations that are truthful and yet not condemning, but understanding that life creates an infinite array of circu ...more
Ammara Abid
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slow slow slow paced, tedious, laborious, not much drama neither jaw dropping moments nor tick tock sshhhhhhh suspense yet beautiful and great book indeed.
It's hard to describe why I like this book why it's so appealing why I gave 4 stars but I'm compelled to give not less than this. :)
Inspite of the detailed account about the land, soil you don't feel like aggghhhhhh but if you feel so, didn't matter :D because the writer is in no hurry he's on very calm mode that's the real beauty of it.
Dec 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite novels from my teen years was Giants in the Earth by Ole Rolvaag. I first read it as outside reading for my eighth grade English class and enjoyed it as much as My Antonia which I read at about the same time. More recently I read Pat Conroy’s memoir My Reading Life, in which he writes about his agent who gives him a copy of Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun, telling him: “It’s an essential book. A necessary one. It’s the most important book I’ve ever read. I named my farm Sel ...more
Jan 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Beautifully written and tedious. I never want to hear about potatoes again unless they're fried in the delectable trans fats of civilization. Oh civilization, you are so bad. Like the devil, or a moose, or a corrupting bottle of Devil Moose ale.

For all of the detail Hamsun puts into Isak's farm work, we rarely get such dappled descriptions of how the women are making those cheeses or raising enough kids to make the Quiverful movement proud. I wondered if Oline and the sheriff's wife's wheedling

"Growth of the Soil is a book dedicated to the willpower, testament, and dedication of the simple and free man. It is a book dedicated to the nature of hard-work. It is a book dedicated to a look into the past, with fond memories and indulgence."
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. The story is so simplistic, -- not really having a big plot to it. It is the story of Isak, a man who is literally walking through the forest one day, and chooses a spot, and then starts his life. The story follows his simple life of farming and the life of his family and that of the people he crosses paths with. It seems throughout the book that Isak never changes, but that the world sort of modernizes around him, -he being a sort of character of stability, with the ...more
Jan 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
Not without questionable aspects (or author), but a beguiling read nonetheless.
Daniel Simmons
Dec 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A simple tale, ostensibly about simple people, that somehow also manages to be about the whole of human existence: carving a home out of the wilderness, family and its discontents, modernity and the slow creep of urbanization, resource and energy management (more than once I thought of the fracking industry while reading this novel), and the different legacies that we leave in our wake. This reminded me a bit of Laxness's "Independent People" -- a better book, that, but both were a pleasure to r ...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.
“The long, long road over the moors and up into the forest - who trod it into being first of all? Man, a human being, the first that came here. There was no path before he came.” 24 likes
“A man comes walking north. He carries a sack, the first sack, containing provisions for the road and some implements. The man is strong and rough-hewn, with a red lion beard and little scars on face and hands, sites of old wounds--were they gotten at work or in a fight? Maybe he has been in jail and wants to go into hiding, or perhaps he is a philosopher looking for peace; in any case, here he comes, a human being in the midst of this immense solitude. He walks and walks, in a silence broken by neither bird nor beast.” 17 likes
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