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Knut Hamsun’s Growth of the Soil

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In 1916 Hamsun began work on what became his greatest and most idealistic novel, Growth of the Soil [1], which won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1921. It painted Hamsun’s ideal of a solid, farm-based culture, where human values, instead of being fixed upon transitory artificialities which modern society had deemed fashionable, would be based upon the fixed wheel of the seasons in the safekeeping of an inviolable eternity where man and Nature existed in harmony:

They had the good fortune at Sellanraa that every spring and autumn they could see the grey geese sailing in fleets above that wilderness, and hear their chatter up in the air — delirious talk it was. And as if the world stood still for a moment, till the train of them had passed. And the human souls beneath, did they not feel a weakness gliding through them now? They went to their work again, but drawing breath first, for something had spoken to them, something from beyond.

Growth of the Soil reflected Hamsun’s belief that only when Western man fully accepted that he was intimately bound up with Nature’s eternal law would he be able to fulfill himself and stride towards a higher level of existence. At the root of this, Hamsun made clear, was the need to place the procreation of the race back at the center of his existence:

Generation to generation, breeding ever anew, and when you die the new stock goes on. That’s the meaning of eternal life.

The main character in the book reflected Hamsun’s faith in the coming man of Europe: a Nietzschean superman embodying the best racial type who, acting in accordance with Nature’s higher purpose, would lead the race to unprecedented levels of greatness. In Hamsun’s vision he was described thus:

A tiller of the ground, body and soul; a worker on the land without respite. A ghost risen out of the past to point to the future; a man from the earliest days of cultivation, a settler in the wilds, nine hundred years old, and withal, a man of the day.

Excerpted from Mark Deavin, “Knut Hamsun and the Cause of Europe,” National Vanguard, 116 (1996), 23–25, as reprinted by Irminsul’s Racial Nationalist Library [2].