cover image Night Roamers and Other Stories

Night Roamers and Other Stories

Knut Hamsun. Fjord Press, $21.92 (156pp) ISBN 978-0-940242-19-7

In these lesser-known stories by the Norwegian Nobel laureate, Hamsun explores familiar themes of spiritual hunger, youthful searching, madness, illness and death in turn-of-the-century Norway through protagonists whose experiences (and complaints) mirror his own. In the story ``On Tour,'' the main character is ``a traveling aesthete'' named Hamsun who quips, ``I'm a young genius with a name so unknown that as yet no advertising editor has spelled it correctly.'' Though he often dwells on his own character, Hamsun skillfully uses mannerisms to portray character generally. In another tale, for example, a crazy seafarer is made to seem more like a rodent than a man, ``scurrying everywhere and sniffing with his sharp white nose while his gleaming little brown eyes . . . flew restlessly on ahead.'' Hamsun's forte, however, is blending romanticism andsince another `with' later in sentence hard realism to evoke the mood of Norway's cold, ``colorless'' towns, with their varied classes of people--bourgeois ladies who ``set the tone in all matters regarding class and taste,'' young swells in top hats who wander drunkenly through the streets at night, and the desperate poor who must pawn even their coats in winter. (May)