Victoria – Knut Hamsun

Hello book friends!

I needed to get my reading juices flowing again and I took the advice of Victoria (@yournextread_ on Instagram) and tried to read a short book. The choice landed on Victoria by Kunt Hamsun and it was a success! I haven’t read Hamsun since I was in high school and at that point he wasn’t an author I fancied. One of the reasons this I believe is that I was forced to read him because to be honest the man could write and that wasn’t very easy to appreciate when I was forced to read him! The synopsis, the shortest one I’ve ever seen, is borrowed from Goodreads:

Forced by circumstances into perverse cruelty to one another, Johannes & Victoria live their lives apart until, in the last tragic pages, we see that Victoria cannot live without her Johannes.

Victoria is the oldest story in the times of man. It is a love story in every aspect that is required for a love story but I felt that I read this book more for the sake of the language. Hamsun has a way of writing that is just mesmerizing! I feel that a lot of the authors today, mind you I don’t read a whole lot of poetry so I wouldn’t know about these authors, doesn’t have the same flow in their language any more as Hamsun did. The changes in the Norwegian language is truly fascinating. Hamsun’s language still carries a few hints of Danish and the sentence structure is very different from what it is today. To me, who has listened and read a few old books several years ago, it was quite reassuring to discover that I could still enjoy this kind of language and also understand it to the fullest. Sometimes I’m afraid that I read to much English and fortget my own language. This problem has really shown itself when I’m applying for jobs in Norwegian which I’ve done quite a bit lately!

The characters in this book isn’t portrayed to us in as much detail as we might be used to in modern books. I think this is quite nice because it gives the imagination an opportunity to create its own picture of the characters and their surroundings. Johannes seems to be a sweet man with a mindset that is fitting for his time. He is hopelessly in love but he abides by society’s rules and keeps his place in the social hierachy. Victoria is mostly the same but I feel that she is struggeling more towards the rules that binds her in her place. She has small cryptical hints within her language that can be interpreted as direct messages of interests towards Johannes and by the looks of it he picks up on them but knows that he can’t act. When things finally seems to be working out something always comes in the way. I wouldn’t say that I rooted for Johannes and Victoria simply because I feel that Johannes is treated so unfair, by several women in his life, and he isn’t the type of man who deserves it. I think it could be an interesting discussion to see whether people think Johannes and Victoria should be together and whether or not society came in their way. Society in itself isn’t mentioned much in the book but there are hints all over that hints to the way of society during the time period the book is written.

Victoria is a sweet lovestory with a mesmerizing language. It’s a story as old as time and it also presents the Norwegian language in a beautiful way! This book can be recommended as a fresh break from the modern books and language!

Published: 1898

Genre: Fiction

Theme: Family, love

– The Book Reader

Victoria - en kjærligheds historie av Knut Hamsun

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