"ALMOST SINGLE-HANDEDLY CREATED THE MODERN PSYCHOLOGICAL NOVEL": FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF KNUT HAMSUN'S GROWTH OF THE SOIL, 1920, PUBLISHED THE SAME YEAR HE WON THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE
HAMSUN, Knut. Growth of the Soil. London: Gyldendal, (1920). Octavo, original green cloth. $1150.
First edition in English of one of Hamsun's first works to be translated into English—"the novel that earned him the Nobel Prize for literature"— published the same year he won the Nobel, in original cloth.
"A fount of literary modernism, Hamsun—to whom Mann, Wells, Gorky, Hesse, Musil, Stein, Kafka, Gide, Brecht, Buber, Hemingway and Henry Miller, among many others, gratefully genuflected—had, long before Joyce, laid bare the consciousness of the artist forging his soul in search of community" (Gidden, Warning Shadows). To many, Hamsun "almost singlehandedly created the modern psychological novel" (Encyclopedia of the Novel, 583). "When he published Growth of the Soil (Markens Grode, 1917), the novel that earned him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1920, he was already established as one of Scandinavia's premiere novelists, a celebrity in his native Norway" (Journal of Modern Literature 33:1). The Nobel Committee declared Growth of the Soil "a classic, but in a deeper and more profound sense than usual… Hamsun has given to our times a classic that can be measured against the best we already have."
H.G. Wells early praised it as "one of the very greatest novels I have ever read." On the novel's subsequent 1921 publication in the U.S., critics observed: "there is good reason why this Norwegian writer should come to stand in the front rank of foreign authors… He is read for the sheer pleasure of reading." At the outbreak of WWII, however, Hamsun's reputation was badly tarnished when he "welcomed the brutal German occupation of Norway during WWII and gave his Nobel Prize in Literature as a gift to the Nazi propaganda minister Goebbels" (New York Times). Whether Hamsun, then in his 80s, was "basically a non-political person" or a knowing collaborator, his powerful impact on modern literature is virtually uncontested (Lyngstad, Knut Hamsun, 1-2, xii). "It was only after the award of the Nobel Prize in 1920 that Hamsun was really introduced in English" (France, ed., Oxford Guide, 572). With translation by British translator William J.A. Worster (aka W.W. Worster). "First published in English in London, April 27, 1920." Precedes the first American edition in English, which has a copyright date of Feb. 25, 1921 (Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Books. Vol. 18, Pt. 1:757).
Text fresh with only tiny closed edge-tear above title page, lightest toning to spine, faint rubbing to cloth. A handsome near-fine copy.