The book is set back in the 1800s in Norway, when a man could still freely find land in the backcountry, settle there, and make it his own. Isak, the main character, is a man who’s strongly driven by his elementary needs. Not much of a great thinker, but a hard worker with a clear purpose: to cultivate the land and make a home for himself and eventually get a family. The epitome of a self made man. Hamsun often wrote about mans relation to nature, and his writing often favored the settled down human rather than the restless. I would say this book is a tribute to nature, and at the same time a criticism of industrialization and the so called progress of modern society. However, there are many challenges to overcome in such an existence as Isaks’. The crops can fail, disaster can happen and love life and children can create complications…
Fun fact: When Mark Knopfler wrote “Telegraph Road” he was inspired by the Growth of the Soil “«A long time ago came a man on a track, walking thirty miles with a sack on his back, and he put down his load where he thought it was the best, he made a home in the wilderness.»
This book is nothing less than a masterpiece that I have read several times. Winner of Nobel Prize in Literature.
“In the story of Isak, who leaves his village to clear a homestead and raise a family amid the untilled tracts of the Norwegian back country, Knut Hamsun evokes the elemental bond between humans and the land.”