Not because I am offended about anything, or very unhappy about men's evil ways; but since the forest will not come to me, I must go to it. That is all. I have not gone this time as a slave and a vagabond. I have money enough and am overfed, stupefied with success and good fortune, if you understand that. I have left the world as a sultan leaves rich food and harems and flowers, and clothes himself in a hair shirt.
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About the Author
Hamsun's work is determined by a deep aversion to civilization and the belief that man's only fulfilment lies with the soil. This primitivism (and its concomitant distrust of all things modern) found its fullest expression in Hamsun's masterpiece Markens Grode (1917) [Growth of the Soil]. His early works usually center on an outcast, a vagabond figure, aggressively opposed to civilization. In his middle period, Hamsun's aggressiveness gives way to melancholy resignation about the loss of youth. The decay of age is the theme of such plays as Livets Spil (1896) [Game of Life] and Aftenrode (1898) [ Sunset], as well as of the novels Under Hoststjernen (1906)[Under the Autumn Star], Benoni (1908), and En Vandrer Spiller med Sordin (1909) [A Wanderer Plays on Muted Strings]. In 1904 Hamsun also published a volume of poems, Det vilde Kor [The Wild Chorus].
Hamsun's later works focused less on individual characters and more on broad attacks on civilization. Apart from Marken's Grøde one should mention Børn av Tiden (1913) [Children of the Age], Segelfoss By (1915) [Segelfoss Town] Landstrykere (1927) [Vagabonds], August (1930), Men Livet lever (1933) [The Road leads on], and Ringen sluttet (1936) [The Ring is Closed].
Hamsun's admiration for Germany, which was of long standing, made him sympathetic toward the Nazi invasion of Norway in 1940. After the war he was sentenced to the loss of his property, temporarily put under psychiatric observation, and spent his last years in poverty. A fifteen-volume edition of his complete works was published in 1954, two years after his death.