Essay II Final Draft (Sally Cho) Hunger - Cho 1 Sally Eunah...

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Cho 1Sally Eunah ChoHidalgoScandinavian R5B14 August 2014An Unsustainable Literary Experiment Hunger by Knut HamsunHunger (1890), by Knut Hamsun, portrays the story of an unnamed journalist who hauntsthe streets of Christiania, treading the fine line between existence and death. Continually throughout the text, he refuses help in order to adhere to his high ideals, despite his struggles to provide for himself. The protagonist’s writing barely earns him a wage, and he has to pawn the remainder of his belongings to survive, all the while continuing in his own self-delusion of artistic integrity and respectability. In this way, the central character develops his writing process through his experiences in hunger and writing, by purposely using his hunger to test his literary abilities through his own experiments. In the book Northern Arts: The Breakthrough of Scandinavian Literature and Art, from Ibsen to Bergman(2008) by Arnold Weinstein claims that Hunger represents Hamsun’s entry into literature, but remains one of the most “impudent novels of the nineteenth century that challenges limits and constraints…and the need for freedom” (246)which supports the idea that the narrator not only has literary experiments but also tries to test hislimitations on his writings. In another article “Writing on the Wall: The Language of Advertising in Knut Hamsun’s ‘Sult’” (1999) by Mark B. Sandberg, portrays how advertisement in the novel represents “the modernist literary consciousness” (267) of the narrator. These ideas support the narrator’s writing process in his experience of hunger to portray how he accesses his other level of consciousness to improve his writings. In Hunger, although Herman portrays a man strugglingto provide even basic necessities of food for himself, in actuality, he deliberately starves himself so that he has access to other levels of his own consciousness through his writing. By observing the descriptions when the narrator does not eat, when he actually does eat, and when he vomits
Cho 2the food he tries to digest, the narrator shows how his writing process demonstrates his inability to escape the human limitations. Thus, hunger tests how far he can drive his literary experiment before encountering his limitations—ultimately failing due to the unsustainable lifestyle.Through the descriptions Herman uses during times of hunger, the narrator intentionally starves himself in order to access other levels of his own consciousness.Weinstein explains how “being incessantly hungry sharpens your vision, and leads you to drop your guard so that the world rushes in” (252) proving how the idea of hunger helps the writer to view the mechanisms of writing differently. In the story while hungry, “[the narrator’s] brain simply ran quietly out of my head and left me empty… My head became light and floating… and I had the sense that my eyes were remaining far too open when I looked at anything” (21) contemplating on a bench.

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