Hunger by Knut Hamsun
Hunger is a novel by the Norwegian author Knut Hamsun and was published in its final form in 1890. Parts of it had been published anonymously in the Danish magazine Ny Jord in 1888. The novel is hailed as the literary opening of the 20th century and an outstanding example of modern, psychology-driven literature. It hails the irrationality of the human mind in an intriguing and sometimes humorous novel. It has been translated into English three times: in 1899 by Mary Chavelita Dunne (under the alias George Egerton), by Robert Bly in 1967, and by Sverre Lyngstad, whose translation is considered definitive. Written after Hamsun's return from an ill-fated tour of America, Hunger is loosely based on the author's own impoverished life before his breakthrough in 1890. Set in late 19th century Kristiania, the novel recounts the adventures of a starving young man whose sense of reality is giving way to a delusionary existence on the darker side of a modern metropolis. While he vainly tries to maintain an outer shell of respectability, his mental and physical decay are recounted in detail. His ordeal, enhanced by his inability or unwillingness to pursue a professional career, which he deems unfit for someone of his abilities, is pictured in a series of encounters which Hamsun himself described as 'a series of analyses.'