The Wanderer consists of two closely related novels, Under the Autumn Star and On Muted Strings, and has been acclaimed as one of Hamsun’s greatest works.
The narrator, Knut Pedersen (Hamsun’s real name), is an unsimple character in search of the simple life, which he hopes to attain by wandering round the Norwegian countryside doing such work as he can find. His quest is continually frustrated, bot least by his susceptibility to the wives and daughters of successive employers.
In Under the Autumn Star he joins forces first with Grindhusen, a man blessed with the faith that “something will turn up”; later with Lars Falkenberg, whose dubious talents include the tuning of pianos. Knut and Lars end up as workmen on the estate of a certain Captain Falkenberg (no relation), with whose wife each man falls in love. In due course, Knut is laid off and, in futile pursuit of the woman with whom by now be is helplessly infatuated, eventually finds himself sucked back into the city he had fled.
“A wanderer plays on muted strings,” explains Knut, now six years older, “when he reaches the age of two score years and ten.” Among this sequel’s qualities is the poignancy with which it conveys that sense of aging.
Both novels show Hamsun at the height of his powers: lyrical and passionate, ironic yet deeply humane, master of one of the most original prose styles in modern literature.
Knut Hamsun is recognised as one of the greatest literary figures of the twentieth century. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1920 for his novel Growth of the Soil.
“The most outstanding Norwegian writer since Ibsen.”
‘Times Literary Supplement’
“One of the great writers of this century… Hamsun’s novels have the simplicity of total self-possession.”