Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Quotes - Hunger by Knut Hamsun (translated by Robert Bly)


The riveting, mesmerising and disturbing book that is "Hunger" was reviewed a few days back. Here are some choice quotes from the book:

"The autumn had come, that cool and delicious time of year when everything changed colour and died."

"How steadily my predicament had got worse! By now I was so utterly denuded of objects that I didn't even have a comb left, or a book to read when I felt hopeless."

"...I was nothing but a battleground for invisible forces..."

"Small jerks began to appear in my legs, my walk became unsteady precisely because I wanted it to be smooth."

"I strolled to the door, keeping the posture of a man who can place another easily in an important post."

"How gaily and lightly these people I met carried their radiant heads, and swung themselves through life as through a ball-room! There was no sorrow in a single look I met, no burden on any shoulder, perhaps not even a clouded thought, not a little hidden pain in any of the happy souls. And I, walking in the very midst of these people, young and newly-fledged as I was, had already forgotten the very look of happiness."

"God had poked his finger down into my nerves and gently, almost without thinking, brought a little confusion among those threads. And God had pulled His finger back, and behold - there were filaments and fine root like threads on His finger from the threads of my nerves. And there remained an open hole behind His finger which was the finger of God, and a wound in my brain behind the path of His finger."

"A simple glance from her was like a kiss from another woman, and when she spoke her voice poured through my veins like wine right into my heart."

"A swarm of vague thoughts were battling about in my brain."

"I myself felt like an insect about to go under, attacked by annihilation in this world ready to go to sleep. I jumped up, labouring with profound terrors, and too three or four long steps up the path. No! I cried, and clenched both fists, this has to end! And I sat down again, brought out the pencil and paper in order to grapple with the article. When the rent was right before my eyes, it would never do to give up."

"I wrote the man's address down and prayed to God silently for this position - I would accept much less than anybody else for the work, half a krone would be princely or perhaps even less; the price would not be a consideration."

"Now I was walking around starving so much that my intestines were curling up inside me like snakes, and moreover there was no guarantee that food would come to me by the day's end either. And as time went on, I was becoming spiritually and physically more and more hollowed out, I let myself sink to less and less honorable deeds every day. I told blank lies without a blush, cheated poor people out of their rent, and fought against the grossest impulses to make off with someone else's blanket, all without remorse, without bad conscience. Rotten patches were beginning to appear in my insides, black spongy areas that were spreading."

"As soon as I was alone, I leaped up and started tearing my hair in despair. No, nothing would do any good for me, there was no salvation! My brain was bankrupt!"

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