things of little relevance

October 5, 2009, 5:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Apropos of Roman Polanski, Knut Hamsun.

George Orwell had it right when, in reviewing Salvador Dali’s autobiography in 1944, he wrote, “One ought to be able to hold in one’s head simultaneously the two facts that Dali is a good draughtsman and a disgusting human being. The one does not invalidate or, in a sense, affect the other.” Adopting such a hybrid view is difficult. Yet it’s important that we try. Hamsun’s early novels remain strikingly undated and have influenced numerous European and American writers. As André Gide remarked, they are, in their way, “perhaps even more subtle” than Dostoyevsky’s novels in their exploration of human consciousness. Let us, then, recognize Knut Hamsun for what he was and remains: a pivotal figure in the literary canon and a disgusting human being.



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