Editing Hamsun

Richard Eccles talks about his fascination with the great Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun and his newly edited re-issue of Hamsun’s stunning novel Pan, the first in our Modern Classics Series. If you had to lure a contemporary reader into exploring Knut’s Hamsun’s novels what would you say? Hamsun is in some ways the perfect antidote to modern life and the worst aspects of modern literature. From our perspective in the 21st century he takes us into a magical, remote world stripped down to its most realistic and extraordinary essentials. He is painfully aware of all of the modern challenges, disruptions and psychoses, and describes them in such biblical simplicity that most readers can never forget what they have just read and want more. He is also the least gimmicky of story-tellers and never fails to keep the story and the characters at the heart of every sentence, at the same time as being the most modern of novelists in his themes and understanding of the human condition. And why Pan, why now? Worster’s beautiful translation came out in 1921, just after the First World War. It was the first translation of this novel in to English and is in many…