Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Dreamers” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.69  ·  Rating details ·  734 ratings  ·  51 reviews
The midnight sun illumines more than fishing and fjords in this remote northern Norwegian village. In fact, half-baked schemes and hilarity abound. Big Ove Rolandsen, telegraph operator, mad scientist, and local Casanova, trades wits, fists, and kisses with a host of quirky neighbors. He serenades the curate's wife and fights a drunken giant, but taking on Trader Mack, the ...more
Paperback, 132 pages
Published May 17th 1996 by New Directions (first published 1904)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Dreamers, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Dreamers

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  734 ratings  ·  51 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Dreamers
Sep 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hamsunites
Recommended to s.penkevich by: The warmth of spring creeping in
Summer is the time for dreaming, and then you have to stop. But some people go on dreaming all their lives, and cannot change.

Hamsun has always favored the eccentrics. Those set apart from society by their volatile nature, the mysterious strangers whose behavior and whims set an entire village upside down, and those who become a force of nature all themselves. Hamsun’s 1904 novella, Dreamers, is no exception in its depiction of an eccentric man whose womanizing, drinking, and clever schemes pi
Apr 22, 2009 rated it liked it
I first encountered Knut Hamsun while checking out the Munch exhibit gift shop at Chicago’s Art Institute. Apparently the show organizers decided to include some books along with bookbags and erasers featuring “The Scream” and my friend Paul, an English professor, pointed at Hamsun’s “Mysteries and said, “Have you read that? You’d like it.” Now, I have to admit, my ego took a hit that afternoon. I love these depressing, northern European writers. How in the hell have I not heard of a guy who fit ...more
Paul Hufton
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ll make my excuses right now - Dreamers is a tough book to review. An easy book to write a dissertation about, but a hard one to sum up in a few paragraphs (especially without too many spoilers). One thing should be pointed out at the start though - whilst a translated work written in 1904 by a Norwegian winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature might sound fusty or off-putting, this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s a light, charming, feel-good book, and could be quickly and easily be r ...more
Pete Ames
Oct 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
I shall begin my review, somewhat controversially, with my conclusion: Dreamers is a good book. The story holds the reader’s attention and is well paced throughout and contains resonating, interesting characters. Meanwhile the style of writing never intrudes upon the story, though it never stands out either.

Primarily Dreamers is a character piece, introducing early on all the characters of a small Norwegian village with a somewhat shallow or public version of themselves before exploring, to var
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
"Dreamers" is a delightful, comedic tale full of colorful characters. At first, I thought that the book was just a sweet little story and the perfect snack for a summer's evening. However, after letting the book marinate in my mind for a few days, it occurs to me that the sudden switches in point of view make the quality of the story more dreamlike.

Near the end of the book, oafish and endearing Ove Rolandsen says: "Summer is the time for dreaming, and then you have to stop. But some people go on
Gaston Prereth
Oct 07, 2012 rated it liked it
It took me a long time to formulate a review for this book, and I’m still not sure I have much to say. From an exceptionally promising start, the characters and plot seemed to thin and disappear like sunburnt sea spray the further I read. In fact, the only thing which seemed to remain was the setting which remained as beautiful and isolating as it was in the first chapter.

Throughout the book you get invited into a small community on an isolated island and are given a real sense of their daily l
Gertrude & Victoria
Knut Hamsun's Dreamers is like a strange dream rendered into a stranger reality, as one man, Ove Rolandsen, takes on a whole village to satisfy his needs of love and recognition. His actions are not guided exclusively by selfishness, but from some incomprehensible inclination to act. Of course, the village people are not in on some plan to destroy him, but rather, he brings his misfortunes upon himself.

This work is a penetrating analysis of man's unpredictable and inexplicable nature, where late
Jeff Miller
Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it
With the exception of probably his most famous book, Hunger, many of Knut's books could easily be rolled into one massive collection and read as a wonderful insight into a particular time and place. This shorter tale fits alongside The Women At The Pump, Mysteries, Wayfarers.... and adds to the overall impressive canon of work that he offers. For anyone interested in dipping in, this would be a good introduction with its cast of characters, schemes and dreams all very representative.

"....but no
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun is one the greatest writers you've never heard of. Winner of the 1920 Nobel Prize for literature, he was a huge influence on Mann, Kafka, and Hemingway; Bukowski called him the greatest novelist in history. Dreamers is a short book, a character study about an unlikable man presented in only a slightly sympathetic light. Little happens in the story and yet the prose is so good I tore through the book in a couple of sittings. ...more
Dec 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Certainly not Hamsun's greatest work but worthwhile nonetheless. This short novel cobbles together seemingly random details of a small norther Norwegian fishing town into a plot line that brings all together in a convenient and tidy way. Of course it centers around a typical Hamsun protagonist, brash, non-confirming, rule-breaker. ...more
Jan 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rainy-day-reads
A friend suggested Hamsun - I'd never read him or, in fact, heard of him - so I borrowed Dreamers from the library and read it almost in one fell swoop. It's funny, poetic, sad, full of oddball characters, a distant cold landscape that provides a folkloric setting ... overall very enchanting. ...more
May 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-read
3,5 Stars. Lighthearted and sweet, maybe a little too lighthearted and silly for my taste, but still nice to read it again.
Ken Fredette
Dec 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rolandsen seems to be the main character in Knut's book Mothwise. He is upset by Marie van Loos, the housekeeper for the Vicarage, and Olga, and Elise Mack in making up his mind as to who he is to marry. At the same time he is trying various chemical reactions to change different formulations for the better. He is changed by old man Mack when he is robbed and he offers a $400 reward for anyone who knows the robber or even the robber. He pleads he is guilty of the robbery to receive the $400 to m ...more
Jerry Pogan
Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining little book about a man named Ove Rolandsen who was a bit of a scoundrel. He flirted with all the girls and seemed to have no ambition. He worked as the local telegraph operator and lived in a room on the premises. However, on the side he also dabbled as an inventor and discovered a new formula for a fish glue. In order to obtain a patent he had to come up with the money for it and this led to his misadventures. A bit of a cartoonish story and not as good as most of Hamsun's othe ...more
R.K. Cowles
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
4 1/2 stars
Rachel P
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Just not for me. I didn't get anything out of it. ...more
Ollie Ray  Wingate
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tiny Norwegian coastal town and stolen money.
Heather G
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Had an other worldly feel being set in a Norway that’s long gone.
Julie Akeman
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very quick and funny read.
John Purcell
Feb 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No one writes like Hamsun. He sees things others don't. Conjures stories from a change in the breeze. Shakes out stale ideas and makes them new. He is good for the soul. ...more
Breslin White
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From where I stand, this looks to be the best of Knut Hamsun's books. ...more
Sep 21, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Reading this shortly after finishing I Heard the Owl Call My Name invited some unexpected comparisons. Both books are about the arrival of new preachers at remote villages, and follow how subsequent events shape the lives of the people in these distinct locations. Dreamers is the easier read by far, though less rewarding - it's a somewhat scattered comedy, but Hamsun does an excellent job developing more than a few fascinating characters, and he mixes in enough evocative imagery to make the sett ...more
Mar 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
For years, Hamsun has been, by far, my favorite Norwegian author. That said, Dreamers just wasn't my cup of tea. It had a very promising start, but then the characters and the plot seemed to fade away, little by little. The only redeeming factor is that the setting remained the same throughout the story. I just love the places he puts his characters; it's always some isolated, calm village or small town which brings me comfort. I guess I'm attracted to those because I was brought up in a big, no ...more
Jeff Buddle
Nov 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Clean, flowing prose. Crystalline descriptions. Knut Hamsun writes a simple story about a small town, a town fraught with double dealing, romantic entanglements and quirky characters. If I were the translator of this tale, I would have named it "Schemers," which would be a more appropriate title.

Our main character, Big Ove Rolandsen, is a drunk Cassanova who is really an inventor. He is an inveterate flirt, even though he's engaged. His invention targets the town's leading citizen, Trader Mack,
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dublin James
May 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Reading this novel can perhaps best be described as how you might feel after waking up midway through a wet dream. You're left confused, though this confusion soon passes and is replaced by an awareness that you've experienced something pretty extraordinary in spite of your ultimate feeling of unfulfillment.

It tells the story of Ove Rolandsen (a charming, contradictory, drunken, dreaming lothario much like myself) and the people of the little coastal village he inhabits, all of whom are introdu
David Ball
Sep 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was a bit bogged down with Vidal's Lincoln, so I picked this up to re-ignite my enthusiasm for reading. And it worked. This is a brilliant little book: very well observed, very funny, with a number of clever plot lines, and in Ove Rolandsen the book contains one of fiction's most original characters. He's a lazy, boozy, schemingly ambitious telegram operator/amateur inventor, an irrepressible flirt, and occasional romantic. I don't know many Norwegians, but reading this book makes me wish I kn ...more
Oct 28, 2007 added it
I was shocked to see Hamsun working in a very different milieu from Hunger, which, to me, felt very urban and very modern. Dreamers is rural and simple in a fairy-tale sort of way. While it certainly does not carry the weight of the other book, it is a good short read nonetheless. It is funny and strange and starkly pretty.
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The back cover calls this a semi-precious gem, and I think that is exactly right. This has a lot of similarities to other Hamsun stories - small Norwegian village, slightly dysfunctional but relatable lead, seemingly fruitless love interests - but is overall so much different. And has a very empowering and uplifting... Dare I say, happy, ending. Delightful.
Caleb Liu
Mar 15, 2007 rated it it was ok
A rather short novella length offering from the writer famous for "Hunger". Lovable rouge tries to make good in this tale which was surprising light reading considering - or maybe I'm just missing something. ...more
« previous 1 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Peer Gynt
  • Naïve. Super
  • August Strindberg: Una vita
  • L'allegra apocalisse
  • حزن الملائكة
  • The Dry Heart
  • Niels Lyhne
  • Hjarta mannsins
  • Islanda
  • Land of Love and Ruins
  • Buzz Aldrin, waar ben je gebleven?
  • Pioggia di stelle
  • Crepitio di stelle
  • Saga Ástu
  • Luce d'estate, ed è subito notte
  • Fish Have No Feet
  • Il pastore d'Islanda
  • Fiabe islandesi
See similar books…
Knut Hamsun was 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. ...more

Related Articles

Danielle Evans was just 26 when she released her short story collection Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self in 2010, a multi-award-winning...
15 likes · 1 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“But now it was spring again, and spring was almost unbearable for sensitive hearts. It drove creation to its utmost limits, it wafted its spice-laden breath even into the nostrils of the innocent.” 32 likes
“He was quite a Casanova, no doubt about it. He was in a very good mood today and stopped longer than usual. The girls could see he was gloriously drunk.
’Well, Ragna, why do you think I come here so often?’ asked Rolandsen.
’I’ve no idea,’ Ragna answered.
’You must think I’m sent by old Laban.’
The girls giggled. ’When he says Laban he really means Adam.’
’I’ve come to save you,’ said Rolandsen. ’You have to beware of the fishermen around here, they’re out-and-out seducers!’
’There’s no greater seducer than you,’ said another girl. ’You’ve got two kids already. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.’
’How can you talk like that, Nicoline? You’ve always been a thorn in my flesh and you’ll be the death of me, you know damned well. But as for you, Ragna, I’m going to save your soul wether you like it or not!”
More quotes…