Pan by Knut Hamsun

This book was published in 1894 and is set in the Northern wilderness of Norway. The book tells the story of a summer relationship between Lieutenant Thomas Glahn who is spending time on holiday in a hut with his dog Aesop and Edvarda Mack the daughter of the local rich man.

Glahn and Edvarda have a very strange way of interacting, seemingly loving and caring about one another on one day and then the next time they meet, either one or both of them insults the other because they’re not behaving in the way that’s expected. It’s a very controlling way of treating people. Glahn is rude and obnoxious, and seems to shoot anything that moves at any time of day or night no matter where he is.

I found it very difficult to relate to any of the characters in the book.

Glahn eventually engineers an explosion that kills another woman he was supposedly keen on, but no one seems to bat an eyelid and he gets away with murder, but then you think ‘well he killed everything else he came into contact with, so perhaps at least his behaviour is consistent’.

As you might have gathered, I didn’t enjoy this book.

There’s also the fact that Hamsun openly supported Hitler and Norway’s post-invasion Nazi puppet government though this was long after this novel was published. Even so, he was veering politically to the right for many years and found a natural home with the Nazis.

I know I’m supposed to admire the convoluted, contradictory, and brutal machinations of the human mind and heart that produced this “psychological” novel, but someone as obnoxious as Glahn doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously even as a fictional character.

Published by Julian Worker

Julian was born in Leicester, attended school in Yorkshire, and university in Liverpool. He has been to 94 countries and territories and intends to make the 100 when travel is easier. He writes travel books, murder / mysteries and absurd fiction. His sense of humour is distilled from The Marx Brothers, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Midsomer Murders. His latest book is about a Buddhist cat who tries to help his squirrel friend fly further from a children's slide.

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