by Knut Hamsun, Sverre Lyngstad

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The first complete English translation of the Nobel Prize-winner’s literary masterpiece

A Penguin Classic

Mysteries is the story of Johan Nilsen Nagel, a mysterious stranger who suddenly turns up in a small Norwegian town one summer—and just as suddenly disappears. Nagel is a complete outsider, a sort of modern Christ treated in a spirit of near parody. He condemns the politics and thought of the age, brings comfort to the “insulted and injured,” and gains the love of two women suggestive of the biblical Mary and Martha. But there is a sinister side of him: in his vest he carries a vial of prussic acid...

The novel creates a powerful sense of Nagel's stream of thought, as he increasingly withdraws into the torture chamber of his own subconscious psyche.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,800 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781440673634
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/01/2001
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
File size: 385 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Knut Hamsun (1858–1952) was a Norwegian novelist, poet, and playwright hailed by many as one of the founders of modern literature. Born to a poor peasant family in central Norway, he worked as a schoolmaster, sheriff’s assistant, laborer, store clerk, farmhand, and streetcar conductor in both Scandinavia and America before establishing himself as a successful playwright and novelist. His first novel, Hunger (1890), was an immediate critical success; he went on to write the novels Mysteries (1892), Pan (1894), Victoria (1898), and The Growth of the Soil (1917), the last of which earned him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920.

Sverre Lyngstad (1922–2011; translator, introducer, notes) was a scholar and translator of Norwegian literature and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He translated five of Knut Hamsun’s works for Penguin Classics—Hunger (1890), Mysteries (1892), Pan (1894), Victoria (1898), and The Growth of the Soil (1917)and was honored by the King of Norway with the St. Olav Medal and with the Knight’s Cross, First Class, of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction xi
Suggestions for Further Reading xxxiii
Translator's Note xxxv
Explanatory Notes 283(8)
Textual Notes 291

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Mysteries 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
ncnsstnt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The only mystery here is why I read all 330 pages of this nonsense.
karacag on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
a great litterature art!
jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was introduced to the author Knut Hamsun by reading his first novel, Hunger. It is a Dostoevskian tale of a young journalist who is literally starving to death. His story is about trying to write and live while not even being able to afford a scrap of food, pawning his vest to be able to survive a few more days. It is a searing story that one does not forget. I had reread that book about a year ago, but still had not tackled any of Hamsun's other works before I had picked this book. My expectations were high, as he is a Nobel Laureate, but I was not sure if he would equal, much less surpass, his earlier novel. Now I look forward to reading more of his works.I was drawn to Mysteries because of a reference in Henry Miller's The Colossus of Maroussi where he said of Mysteries that it "is closer to me than any other book I have read." High praise from a writer that I respect and whose Colossus I loved.Mysteries is not exactly thrilling, but it is an adventure into the unknown. It does not rely on a traditional plot, rather it starts under mysterious circumstances where a strange young man named Johan Nagel without any past appears in a small coastal town where a person has been recently killed. However, playing against expectations the book doesn't delve in to the suspense of the murder, rather all the mysteries lie in Nagel's relations with the townspeople and in discovering the duality of human mind. The duality that confuses us more than the bystander why we are what we are. How can we be so selfish while performing a selfless act? Why do we care about so much about something whose absence doesn't matter in long run? Why we love someone who doesn't love us back? I found moments in the book left me feeling that I was sharing a dream with the characters - an eerie feeling indeed but more puzzling than frightening.Sven Birkerts has said that Hamsun has created " works of desperate lyrical romanticism". But Hamsun is also a precursor to and in some ways participant in modernism, writing works that span the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. This book is compelling with challenging arguments that you think and perhaps question your beliefs, especially the arguments on societal interpretation of the genius. Birkerts, in his introduction, goes on to say that Mysteries is "compelling in its fans a depth of devotion that owes less to narrative, character development, or evocative prose than to something more elemental, more . . . mysterious." (p. x)It is thus to me and a novel of ideas that I can truly enjoy.
MeditationesMartini on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is like a cascade of tiny Dostoevskies. It's a Dostoevsky a minute. And that's its small imperfection, in a way--despite all the magic and torment in this book, there's something unavoidably ungenerous about it, grudging, closed. You can see the germ of Hamsun's politics in it. If Hitler hadn't come along he'd have been demanding they close the homeless shelter, or getting an injunction against his neighbours to force them to mow their lawn. Still, really good read.
KTPrymus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Johannes Nagel is a perplexing man. Mysterious, you might say. If most people are difficult to get a read on, Nagel is the advanced calculus of human psychology. It¿s interesting, then, that Knut uses this character to represent the coming 20th century man. Knut was about 100 years ahead of his time, though, and the actions of Nagel may represent less the lifestyle of early 20th century gentlemen but more the necessity of visibility characterized by 21st century bloggers and social networkers.Nagel rolls in anonymously into a small Norwegian port town, but his entrance sets the stage for his erratic behavior. After deciding to take up residence in the town he takes the ship another 30 miles up the coast and walks back. His reasons for this are never fully explained, though it is doubtful that any explanation he could give would make much sense. You would think the use of a third person omniscient narrator would make him a more readily understandable character and indeed, we are allowed to peer into Nagel¿s head throughout the novel. All we can gather, however, is that this is a man obsessed with how others perceive him. Even when he is alone he acts as though he is being watched and intentionally behaves in a way fitting the effect he wishes to achieve.The problem is that there is no consistent notion of who Nagel wants to be. What he wants to be is perhaps too strong, and this is the crux of what Knut is trying to represent with this character. It is never certain than Nagel has any genuine desires of his own. His actions are done not so that he could be this or that sort of man, but so that others will percieve him as that sort of man. This is not simple case of portraying oneself in a manner other than what one really is inside, rather this is a case of having no inside whatsoever. That Nagel is a stranger in town makes no difference; I imagine his erratic behavior to be with him wherever he calls home, if there is such a place.Nagel is a textbook example of someone lacking integrity in the most extreme sense, and Knut brings him to life brilliantly with a near Dostoyevskian attention to human psychology. That so many of us today are obsessed with the image we project in persistent online spaces (hello LibraryThing!) makes this book a particularly germane read, highlighting the perils of being overconcerned with our own image. While there can be much debate over the tragic events which occur at the end of the book, regardless of interpretation it is a foreboding glimpse into our own possible future.For an interesting read concerning our need for others to see us, check out Paul Auster's New York Trilogy, particularly the story Ghosts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Comment 1 is funny!!! :)
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