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Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun - Simple And Entertaining

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					  Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun




                    Elements Of A Simple Life, Blood And Soil


When Knut Hamsun won the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1920, it was
mostly because Growth of the Soil, an an epic vision of peasant life in
Norways backcountry. Growth of the Soil is the book that the common man
of the day valued more than any other of his works, the book that the
Germans had printed in field-editions to send with their soldiers to the
fronts. But this is not an ideally portrait of the values in life - it is a very
accurate description of how the life was in the outback for these early
settlers, how extremely simple they were. It was not because they had
achieved a great understanding of the meaning of life, readers in that belief
are totally wrong. They had no choice, were not on terms with their inner -
self at all, did not know comfort and beautiful music, could not afford to be
fastidious. In Growth of the Soil, Knut Hamsun has told the story of the
simple, unsophisticated people breaking the land and struggling to live in
Norway, and done it with such wisdom, humor, tenderness, and talent, that
in many respects this is his best work.
Personal Review: Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun
I had heard of Hamsun's fame as a novelist and infamy as a Norweigian. I
picked up this book to examine the fuss. I am not a Norwegian, but I think
they should be proud of Hamsun and I do not take his wartime sympathies
as any detraction from his literary work at all. History is written by the
winners.

No I am not a Norwegian, but I am a gardener, and a husband and father
however, and the life of my home and hearth follows many of the same
slow, steady, fertile rhythms of blood and soil that Hamsun paces in his
work. Like other reviewers, I found the work slow yet comforting, just like
planting little seeds in black loam and watching them sprout and grow.

I did travel to Norway once and on the Sonne fjord I visited a farm, a young
but enterprising Norwegian man and his sturdy wife who had a flock of
goats they milked to make gjet ost, the delicious brown cheese of
Scandanavia, samples of which they served with crepes and ligonberry
jam. This was years before I read the book, but my memory of the place
and people, the tastes, the look of the water in the fjord and the cliffs
above, the smells and sounds of the bleating goats, the ruddy cheeks and
blonde hair of the farmer and his wife, all accompanied me throughout my
enjoyment of this novel.

As an American, whose primary vocation is intensely active a nd full of
interpersonal conflict, I marvel at the peaceful life that many of the good
peasant folk of Europe and other nations had in pre-industrial times before
globalization and the rest of it. The farming of yesterday was physically
hard work but remembering the Benedictine slogan "Ora et Labora" maybe
hard work has a place in the life well lived.

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