THE WANDERER: Under the Autumn Star & On Muted Strings by Knut Hamsun

THE WANDERER: Under the Autumn Star & On Muted Strings

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Plangently Hamsum writes about the joys, sufferings and unrequited love of a middle-aged man who abandons the literary cafe life for the wanderings (in search of ""wisdom about people"") of a seasonal laborer at the turn of the century. Two short novels comprise The Wanderer, whose protagonist is Knut Pederson (Hamsun's real name) and there's a six-year lapse between their events. The first concerns how he comes to fall in love with the ""Madame"" of the manor where he's employed as a workman. The sequel is a sensational development of their repressed relationship, the decline of her ""bored but faithful"" marriage, her fall from virtue with a persistent young man and climactic suicide, and seems to be in part a response to Ibsen's much earlier Doll's House. Her story is narrated in tandem through Knut's good but dim-witted mates and the other peasants and servants. Much of the plot is unspoken and conveys a sense of strangeness about human nature equivalent to the mystery of the seasons and the soil. Age is a repeated theme as Knut finds himself ""playing on muted strings"" at fifty. This is vintage Hamsun--subtle and resonant--(1906 and 1909--midway between the early novels and Growth of the Soil, which was cited for his Nobel Prize in 1920), written in the autumn of his career--a welcome translation of a great modern master.

Pub Date: June 18th, 1975
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux