"THE MOST SUBVERSIVE OF MODERNISTS": FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF HAMSUN'S AUGUST, 1931, THE CENTRAL NOVEL OF HIS ACCLAIMED TRILOGY
HAMSUN, Knut. August. New York: Coward-McCann, 1931. Octavo, original russet pictorial cloth, original dust jacket. $950.
First edition in English of the Nobel laureate's "satiric fantasy of modernity gone awry," issued the year after publication under the same title in Norwegian, a handsome copy in original dust jacket.
"Hemingway tried to write like him… Hesse called him, 'my favorite author'… and I.B. Singer stated that Hamsun was quite simply 'the father of the modern school of literature'" (Ferguson, 1). Awarded the 1920 Nobel Prize for Literature, Hamsun was "the most subversive of modernists" (Gay, Modernism, 191). "Supremely gifted in the art of precise observation… [his] ironic scrutiny of society and its ways is both sustained and penetrating" (Naess, ed. History of Norwegian Literature, 184). August, Hamsun's "satiric fantasy of modernity gone awry," is at the heart of a monumental trilogy that includes his 1927 novel, Landstrykere (Vagabonds, 1930), and his 1933 novel, Men livet lever (Road Leads On, 1934) (Lyndstad, Knut Hamsun, 275). "In these three novels he develops in depth one of his most memorable characters: August… the embodiment of all that restlessness and rootlessness which for Hamsun seemed to epitomize the inauthentic spirit of the contemporary age" (Naess, 193-4). Yet Hamsun's role during the Nazi occupation of Norway, as well as his meetings with Hitler and Goebbels, made him one of literature's most controversial figures. "The extraordinary mix, in one man, of brilliant art and repugnant politics has produced a continuing fascination with Hamsun's life and writings" (Agar, Knut Hamsun, 3). First edition, first printing: with no statement of edition or printings on copyright page. With a copyright date of October 16, 1931 (Catalog of Copyright Entries Part 1:10392). Containing translation from the Norwegian by Eugene Gay-Tifft. Precedes the following year's English edition. Owner signature.
Book fine; light edge-wear with shallow loss to spine ends, faint dampstaining to scarce very good dust jacket.