book cover of On Overgrown Paths
 

On Overgrown Paths

(1949)
A novel by

 
 
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 elan, 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.

Genre: Literary Fiction

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