Mysteries by Knut Hamsun ; Newly translated from the Norwegian by Gerry Bothmer
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1971. Second printing. Stated. Hardcover. 340 pages ; 21 cm. $8.95 dust jacket with minimal wear. A sound copy with clean and unmarked pages.
Newly translated from the Norwegian by Gerry Bothmer
In the great cycle of Hamsun's development, Mysteries, originally published in 1892, follows Hunger and precedes Pan. Taken together, these three separate novels reveal one act of the author's own spiritual drama.
A stranger arrives in a small Norwegian coastal town and immediately creates an atmosphere of mystery and excitement. Nobody knows why he came or what his intentions are. Johan Nagel doesn't fit into any of the pat-terns to which the provincial mind is accustomed. During the course of the novel, Nagel will act as the catalyst that brings to the surface all the hidden impulses, concealed thoughts, un-avowable interests and darker instincts of the townspeople, chief among whom are Dagny Kielland, the pastor's daughter and a femme fatale; Martha Gude, a lonely and frightened spinster; and "The Midget," a grotesque and tragic clown, whose mind is as deformed as his body. But the principal character is Nagel himself, a fascinating blend of arrogance and humility, virtue and depravity, sanity and madness—a man cursed with the merciless gift of unsparing insight into the human soul, particularly his own; a man possessed by the Nietzschean will for power and domination.
With its unorthodox treatment of the demonic, its stream-of-conscious-ness-like monologs, its brilliant touches of irony and humor, Mysteries, over seventy years after its publication, remains a remarkable and revolutionary novel. Gerry Bothmer has prepared this new translation of Mysteries, which has long been unavailable in this country.
KNUT HAMSUN was born in 1859 in the Gudbransdal Valley of central Norway, and died in 1952, at the age of ninety-three. In 1920 he was awarded the Nobel Prize.
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