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Reflections of a working writer and reader




I believe I can read something of the minds of those about me; perhaps it is not so. Oh, on my good days I feel as though I can gaze deep into the minds of others, even though I am not particularly clever in other ways. We sit in a room, a few men, a few women and I, and I seem to see what goes on within these people and what they think of me. I read something into every fleeting glance of their eyes; at times the blood rises to their cheeks and they flush, at other times they pretend to be looking elsewhere, but they observe me out of the corners of their eyes. There I sit watching it all, and nobody suspects that I see through every mind. For many years I have supposed that I could read in the minds of everyone I met. Perhaps it is not so. . . .

From Pan, a novel published by Knut Hamsun in 1894.

4 Responses to “Pantheism”

  1. Thomas says:

    Sounds fantastical. I’ll have to read it. Thanks for sharing all the interesting things that you discover.

  2. Kelly says:

    Your blog is outstanding.

  3. Dick says:

    It’s a shame that this undoubtedly great author (Henry Miller was very keen) didn’t employ his protagonist’s powers of extra-perception when considering Adolf Hitler, whose death he lamented greatly in 1945.

    They make an interesting little group, those iconoclastic right-wingers whose reputations will always be in thrall to their political sympathies – Ezra Pound, Henry Williamson, Wyndham Lewis, André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, Roy Campbell. Even Yeats and Lawrence inclined to the extreme right.

  4. john baker says:

    Thanks for the comment, Dick. Hamsun’s politics were monstrous. But art, not the artist, is what matters in the end. Byron was a moral monster also, but he could write, and his writing endures. I don’t know why it is that we want to understand the work through the character of the artist. George Best was a weak and pathetic alcoholic for most of his life but when he was at his peak he was able to lift the game of football into another realm. I would have argued and fought all day and all night with Hamsun the man, but his work, and especially those first four novels, have brought me more enlightenment about the craft of writing than anything else I can think of.