Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Almost Thursday Reading

" I do not know how to express the admiration I feel for this wonderful book without seeming to be extravagant. I am usually not lavish with my praise, but indeed the book impresses me as among the very greatest novels I have ever read. It is wholly beautiful; it is saturated with wisdom and humor and tenderness." ~ H.G. Wells

Poor Contemptible Knut Hamsen (born Knud Pedersen in 1859 ) He wins a Nobel Prize in 1920, has written a couple of great books (Hunger, The Growth of the Soil) and then at about seventy years of age begins to act out in both violent and demented ways. In his eighties, frail and nearly deaf, he meets with Adolf Hitler and sees Hitler as a really nice guy. He sends his Nobel Prize to Goebbels as a gift, and angry Norwegians burn Hamsen's books. I read a bit of a biography of Hamsen and had to put it down--it was too depressing. Clearly he had become unhinged and paranoid in his golden years, but people didn't see it as mental illness back then. He was simply a traitor. I didn't know about Hamsen's craziness until I'd read and enjoyed three of his novels. My Norwegian friends tell me he was a great writer who suffered from early onset dementia and appeared to be both lucid and angry at times. Others argue he simply took on a whole new personality, believed himself to be reborn, and was quite sane. Max Von Sydow, who played Hamsen in a film said that the writer was both naive and pitiable. He had isolated himself and lost touch long before he became a contemptible fellow.

I hope I die before my brain crumbles and I do something really terribly horribly stupid.

I still can't believe he gave Goebbels his Nobel Prize for Literature... that just freaks me out.


The Appalachian Trail book: This is just a guidebook to tramping through... not that I would ever want to walk the entire trail. I'm happy enough to spend little bits of time on it here and there ~ so far I've walked a few dozen miles of it in Pennsylvania and New York. (not counting the miles of it I've traveled over & over again in New York.)

I haven't kept track, and I'm not always up for a hurried scramble either, although I have hiked with groups that do that, and will definitely hike with them again. I prefer to stop and observe a lot of little things, but sometimes with the group it's more about how many miles you can go in eight hours or so, especially when some of the people have to get home by a certain time. I'm a little less enthusiastic about crawling and climbing through places nicknamed the squeezer or the agony than I was when I was a kid, but then what I consider a thrill has changed a bit since I was ten years old.

I take a book with me, since some hiking groups like an hour long lunch stop / rest period. I usually take a novel.

This film is coming to my town and I hope to see it. A kind of domestic horror movie -- an eerie call from beyond the grave. Creepy.

To find out who wrote the description of New Orleans in the last post, I discovered through another blogger that all you had to do was google the first line! It was a page from Bob Dylan's memoir.


tut-tut said...

Sorry I haven't been around much! I remember everyone seemed to be reading Hunger in college. Your muscles must be rippling .. .

R.L. Bourges said...

I've never read any Knut Hamsun. Maybe I was put off by the stories I read about his befriending the Nazis - not the greatest intro, for sure.

People falling apart is scary at any age but seeing it happen to people you love is pretty gruesome. On my walk yesterday, I ran into a woman I know who was coming back from visiting a friend with Alzheimer's. Pretty devastating when someone doesn't recognize you and takes off on weird tangents. I pray never to have it happen to me or to people I care about; it's such a cruel thing.

Must Read After My Death - haven't seen it. Sounds pretty powerful. Not too many families are just what they seem on the snapshots but since I know nothing about this one, I'll wait for your comments about the movie.

Let us know what you think of Hamsun as a writer, too.

Best , A R.

Megan said...

Way to make my reading pile look like a trash pile, there, Avid.

I joke.

But not entirely...

JGH said...

I never would have guessed Bob Dylan!

So sad about Hamsen. Did he write anything after he went crazy?

Deborah Godin said...

Yes, Dylan would have been very far down my list of prosects, too. Intriguing and tragic about Hamsen. I hope if I ever go "off" in my dotage, it'll be in a much quieter gentler way...

Ronda Laveen said...

Dylan! I should have guessed. I wasn't even close. Dementia and Alzheimer's are sad diseases. My mother died of Alzheimer's a year and a half ago. Blessedly at and advanced point, they don't remember they have it. It then becomes a disease of their living relatives.

The creepy movie looks good!

Shelby said...

terrific blog about books.. I'm going to the junk store today to look for books.. a typical lunch time hour on Friday :)

the best.

lettuce said...

mmm you've now got me thinking about what i now consider a thrill, in comparison with when I was 10....

i'd love to walk some of the Appalachian way with you

My Classic Fiction Book List -Partial List

  • Austen, Jane: (Complete Works)
  • Balzac: Cousin Bette/ Eugenie Grandet / Cousin Pons
  • Best Russian Short Stories
  • Boyle, TC: Short Works
  • Brennan, Maeve : Short Works, 1 Novella
  • Bronte, Emily, Ann, Jane (Complete Works)
  • Brookner, Anita ( Complete Works)
  • Cather, Willa (Complete Works)
  • Chekov: Short Works
  • David Copperfield (Dickens)
  • Dickens:A Tale of Two Cities
  • Dickens:Great Expectations
  • Dickens:Nicholas Nickelby
  • Dickens:Our Mutual Friend
  • Dickens:The Old Curiosity Shop
  • Doyle, Roddy (some novels, memoir)
  • Drabble, Margaret (4 Novels)
  • Drieser, Theodore (Complete Works)
  • Fitzgerald, F.Scott (Most Novels & short works)
  • Hardy, Thomas (Complete Works)
  • Hemingway, Short stories
  • Hemingway: The Old Man in the Sea
  • Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises
  • Hugo: Les Miserables/Hunchback Of ND
  • James, Henry: Daisy Miller
  • James, Henry: In The Cage
  • James, Henry: Portrait of a Lady
  • James, Henry: The Golden Bowl
  • James, Henry: What Maisy Knew
  • James, Henry: Wings of a Dove
  • James, Henry:The Ambassadors
  • James, Henry; The Bostonians
  • Kerouac: Dharma Bums
  • Kerouac: On The Road
  • Kerouac: The Subterraneans
  • Kerouac: Tristessa
  • Lardner,Ring:Short Works
  • Larsen: Quicksand
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Arrowsmith
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Free Air
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Main Street
  • Lewis, Sinclair: The Job
  • MacGill, Patrick (Complete works)
  • Mackin, Walter (novels)
  • Maupassant: Short Works, novels
  • McGahern, John (novels of)
  • McNulty, John (Short Works)
  • Norris, Frank: McTeague
  • O'Brien, Edna (3 Novels)
  • O'Donnell, Paeder : Novels of
  • O. Henry
  • Potok, Chaim (4 novels/1 non fiction)
  • Salinger, JD : Nine Stories
  • Salinger: Franny & Zooey
  • Salinger: Raise High the Roofbeams
  • Salinger: The Catcher in the Rye
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Dodsworth
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Elmer Gantry
  • Sinclair, Upton: King Coal
  • Sinclair, Upton: The Jungle
  • Steinbeck, John: Sweet Thursday
  • Steinbeck: Winter of our Discontent
  • Steinbeck: Cannery Row
  • Steinbeck: East of Eden
  • Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath
  • Theroux, Paul (3 Novels )
  • Toibin, Colm: (Novels of)
  • Tolstoy: Anna Karenina
  • Tolstoy: Short Works
  • Turgenev (2 novels)
  • Twain: T Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi
  • Vonnegut: Early Works (1950s-60s)
  • Wharton, Edith: Novels of/Short Stories
  • Women & Fiction (Edit. Cahill)
  • Zola, Emile ( 10 novels)