Monday, February 1, 2021

268. Growth of the Soil

Growth of the Soil
Knut Hamsun
Around 435 pages

Pardon me if I appear to be a bit giddy while writing this review. I am so excited to be done with this book that I would do a jig, if doing so wouldn't make my leg explode. Due to my limited mobility, I am unable to get my books from the library. So I read this as a eBook, which I am sure impaired the experience for me. But I am convinced I would have hated it anyway, even if it was printed on the finest, best smelling parchment in the land.

The Listmakers have decided that the Nazi sympathizer deserves not one book, but two. So here we go again. Isak is a Norwegian man who recently settled on a patch of land with tenable soil. Man is lonely without Woman, so a big woman with a harelip moves in with him (Inger). Life is terrible for every living creature, etc. 

I am always hesitant to avoid giving spoilers. Although if I did reveal some plot points, you might be reassured to know that something actually happens in this dreary, long novel. I know I had my doubts at time. Hamsun writes women exactly as one might expect: creatures of fancy who just want you to buy them gold rings while they murder your children. Okay, maybe that part was a bit unexpected. My point is it didn't ring true.

I feel like Hamsun's purpose is to ensure the reader knows his characters are as miserable as possible. I read that this was written in a style popular at the time, Norwegian new realism. Sorry Norwegian readers, but this was a total drag. Was it supposed to be?

I know I have brought up the debate quite a few times on this blog: Can art ever be separated from the artist? In this case, I don't like the art or the artist, so we don't have to complicate things.

RATING: *----

Interesting Facts:

After winning the Nobel Prize of Literature, Hamsun said, "I know not what I should do—I know not what is the right thing to do, but I raise my glass to the youth of Sweden, to young people everywhere, to all that is young in life."

UP NEXT: Summer by Edith Wharton. Loved this one.


  1. Hamsun was not just a sympathizer, he WAS a Nazi.
    With that kind of sympathies, this could only be terrible.

    1. Agreed. People try to defend this work by saying, well this was before he was a Nazi. It's ridiculous.