Synopses & Reviews
On Overgrown Paths
was written after World War II, at a time when Hamsun was in police custody for his openly expressed Nazi sympathies during the German occupation of Norway, 1940-45. A Nobel laureate deeply beloved by his countrymen, Hamsun was now reviled as a traitor—as long as his sanity was not called into question. On Overgrown Paths
is Hamsun's apologia.
However, the psychiatric report declared him to be sane, but concluded that his mental faculties were "permanently impaired." This conclusion was emphatically refuted by the publication, in 1949, of On Overgrown Paths, Hamsun's apologia. In its creative élan, this book, filled with the proud sorrow of an old man, miraculously recalls the spirit of Hamsun's early novels, with their reverence for nature, absurdist humor, and quirky flights of fancy.
This edition is the first authoritative English translation of Hamsun's last work, a work which stood at the center of the recent film Hamsun.
Knut Hamsun was the greatest 20th century Norwegian novelist, winner of the Nobel Prize, and enormously beloved when the country was occupied in World War II. During the war, however, his wife, a supporter of Quisling and the Nazis, traveled across the country reading from his work, particularly Growth of the Soil, which seemed to support notions of agrarian return by a superior Aryan peasant class. Old and confused, Hamsun traveled to Germany to meet with Hitler, hoping, he claimed, to change the conditions of occupation in Norway. The meeting ended disastrously, and after the war, Hamsun was arrested for his Nazi sympathy. As this book reveals, however, Hamsun was anything by mentally disturbed. It is a sad and tragic book filled with pained sorrow of an old man, great in stature and contribution, but completely out of touch with his own time.
On Overgrown Paths was written during Knut Hamsun's arrestment, hospitalization, and governmental denouncement for his activities as a Nazi sympathizer after World War II in Norway. Winner of the Nobel Prize and enormously beloved by his countrymen, Hamsun was now a traitor; accordingly his support of the Nazis led authorities to find him insane. But as this book shows, Hamsun was anything but mentally disturbed. Stubborn, even unrepentant, Hamsun nonetheless reveals a truly human being who deeply loved his country and was horribly misled by family and friends who served him with disinformation throughout the war and kept him, now nearly deaf, separated from anyone who might have shown him his errors. It is a sad and tragic book filled with the pained sorrow of an old man.
The great confessional memoir of the Nobel-prize winning Norwegian novelist, Knut Hamsun.
About the Author
Kurt Hamsun is a Nobel Prize-winning novelist.