August

PDF-file by Knut Hamsun

August PDF ebook download First of all, the lack of a cover (nearby) shows something important — this is not an easy book to find.There is one copy in the whole Philadelphia library system, and it was not in good shape when I got it, and it is in less good shape now.Yet why the neglect, I couldn't tell you.This reads like major Hamsun to me.Apparently there are two parts (or perhaps three — some say this is a trilogy), of which the 400-or-so-page volume I read is the second.A little village in Norway, obscure and undeveloped, is awakened from its slumbers by the arrival of a onetime former resident, August.August is a doer — a vigorous visionary who cajoles, surprises, and hoodwinks his townfellows into progress of all sorts.He gets a post office going.He builds houses.To his good fortune, the herring catch starts growing dramatically for a few years; there is more money around and more striving for better lives and more comforts.The village is full of thoroughly believable and sometimes endearing personalities, and Hamsun's fondness for human foible gets a thorough workout!Storekeeper Pauline, who spends her life running her little shop (and assessing her customers) partly because she is convinced it is really her brother's store that she is keeping for him — if she were voluntarily doing this work, she would have stopped long before, she is certain — is an especially memorable character.Hamsun's superb understanding of human psychology not only makes this a great pleasure to read, but also intersects so unusually with the business cycle.Perhaps there have been some, but I can't think of another novel in which a complete, classic business cycle played such an enormous role in the action.August is the epitome of an entrepreneur, in these near-primitive conditions; but critics who see the book as a criticism or even denunciation of American-style capitalism are off-base, I think.Hamsun understands August very well; he describes his successes and failures, his flaws and his attributes, with great clarity but also with a certain kindness and sympathy.When the herring migrate farther down the shore or out to sea, the boom conditions for the little village change.Reading this in late 2009, as we cope with our boom-and-bust, made August, published in 1930 at the end of an earlier boom period, especially timely and applicable.I have to find the other volume now.If Hamsun is being rediscovered in this, his 150th anniversary year, this is a book that needs to be rescued.

eBook August

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