"THERE IS HARDLY A LIVING EUROPEAN EUROPEAN OR AMERICAN WRITER WHO DOES NOT… STAND IN HIS DEBT": FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF VAGABONDS, 1930, THE FIRST NOVEL IN NOBEL LAUREATE KNUT HAMSUN'S FAMED "AUGUST" TRILOGY
HAMSUN, Knut. Vagabonds. New York: Coward-McCann, 1930. Octavo, original green cloth. $350.
First edition in English of the brilliant first novel in the controversial Norwegian writer's "August" trilogy—Hamsun's "magnum opus… an impressive achievement"—in original cloth.
Hamsun, awarded the 1920 Nobel Prize for Literature, is "one of the most influential and innovative literary stylists of the past 100 years. There is hardly a living European or American writer who does not consciously or unconsciously stand in his debt" (Ferguson, Enigma, 422). Vagabonds (Landstrykere, 1927) is the first novel in Hamsun's brilliant "August" trilogy that continued with August (same title in Norwegian, 1930), and Road Leads On (Men livet lever, 1933). "The very dimensions of this magnum opus would represent an impressive achievement by any novelist" (Lyngstad, Knut Hamsun, 252). Vagabonds' first chapter is "a masterpiece" in evoking the loss of innocence and the perils of modernity (Ferguson, 290). It also introduces the trilogy's protagonist, August, one of Hamsun's most enduring figures. "What makes Hamsun more than just a good storyteller and a superb stylist are his insights into the 'almost imperceptible movements of the soul' and his sense of the mystery of life" (Wintle, New Makers). Yet controversy continues over Hamsun's role in the Nazi occupation of Norway and his meetings with Hitler and Goebbels. To his biographer, "what can be safely said of him is that he was a great writer, and his contribution to the art of writing has been enormous" (Ferguson, 422). First edition, first issue: copyright page with no statement of edition or printings; copies found with colophon or without colophon (this copy), no priority established. Copyright date of "Oct. 29, 1930" (Catalogue of Copyright Entries. New Series 1:11842). Precedes the following year's first English edition. With translation from the Norwegian by Eugene Gay-Tifft. Without very scarce dust jacket. Owner signature and bookplate.
Interior quite fresh, faint toning to spine. A handsome near-fine copy.