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Under the Autumn Star.

Knut Hamsun. Under the Autumn Star. Trans. Oliver and Gunnvor Stallybrass. Sun & Moon Press, 1998. 112 pp. $11.95.

This reprint will be welcomed by admirers of Knut Hamsun (1859-1952), the Norwegian Nobel Laureate of 1920 who influenced several major American novelists, including Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, and Paul Auster. Another follower, Isaac Bashevis Singer, went so far as to say that the whole modern school of fiction in the twentieth century stems from Hamsun.

Originally published in 1906, Under the Autumn Star is a comic novel narrated by an itinerant worker, Knut Pedersen. Set in a rural landscape and written in a technically conventional mode, the book lacks the hallucinatory fervor and intensity of Hamsun's finest work, including the early masterpiece Hunger (1890), an alienated ramble through Christiania (now Oslo), which arguably marks the birth of the modernist ethos. Compared with the urban outcast who narrates Hunger, the scapegrace Pedersen and his cohorts in Under the Autumn Star bear only a distant resemblance to the spiritual exiles of, say, Henry Miller. Despite the bucolic mood, however, the characteristically wry and detached idiom Hamsun explores here confirms his standing as one of the pioneers of twentieth-century fiction of estrangement. The translation by Oliver and Gunnvor Stallybrass is excellent, and the publisher deserves credit for keeping this and other titles by Norway's major novelist in print.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Landon, Philip
Publication:The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 1999
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