Knut Hamsun: Dreamers

Dreamers - Cover Image

Author: Knut Hamsun

Title: Dreamers

ISBN: 0285632418

Pages: 122

Knut Hamsun is one of the unsung masters of world literature and an author whose writing changed in style and outlook gradually over time. For those familiar with his work, Dreamers is closer to his later, more light-hearted stories like The Women at the Pump, than to his earlier, darker and more introspective novels like Hunger.

Dreamers is a charming and humorous story which centres on a familiar Hamsun leading man, Ove Rolandsen, an outsider and a dreamer. With an eye for the ladies, love of the bottle, and a tongue and fists always ready for a fight, Rolandsen is seemingly drifting through life, and you are happy to drift with him. In between flirting with every woman he encounters and drunken brawls with passing fishing crews, Rolandsen finds time to invent a means to make his fortune and simultaneously undermine and possibly usurp the local business tycoon. As is often the case, you need money to make money, and without financial backing Ove’s invention cannot be exploited and he has to remain in his lowly job as telegraph operator. But when fate intervenes Rolandsen grabs his opportunity and we discover if his dreams will indeed come true.

In Dreamers, Hamsun creates a set of well drawn out characters. The surroundings of a small, isolated, Norwegian fishing village are agreeably self-contained, allowing the neatly plotted interaction between his protagonists to be entirely plausible, helping to create a highly enjoyable story.

Souvenir Press have reprinted a number of works by Knut Hamsun, and for attempting to bring this important writer to a wider audience they are to be applauded. However, in this instance I would question the value for money they are providing. Regardless of the back page’s description of Dreamers as a ‘delightful novel’ it is in fact a 122 page novella, and 122 pages of larger than usual font at that. It would have made far more sense to include Dreamers with the short stories that form the Tales of Love and Loss collection that Souvenir also publishes. To leave it as a standalone story, with no introduction, no notes on textual translation, and not even a one page author biography, all for £7.99, is stretching the loyalty and purse strings of their customers.

Dreamers remains a wonderful little book, but unless you are a dedicated Knut Hamsun fan you might want to wait until this volume is available via the library or a second-hand shop.

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~ by ThatCricketBlogger on 1 November, 2007.

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