Page:Hunger (Hamsun).djvu/12

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Prefatory Note

amongst his audience),—executed them with an audacious, genial impudence, an irritating self-assurance, that made his addresses the sensation of the year. One book after the other appeared—"Mysterier" (Mysteries), "Pan," "Redaktör Lynge," "Nyjord" (Fresh Soil), "Siesta" (short stories),—and the critics scourged him alternately as poseur and blageur, poet and genius, creative artist and impudent imitator. Hamsun went his own way, with a genial laugh at his critics, as a schoolboy caught at some trick. This son of the people, this self-taught man, whose art was congenital—a growth of his very innermost being, not a graft from outside—had a superb contempt for everything that was not of aesthetic value in his own eyes. Of one thing he convinced them—that, as stylist, he was second to none in his own country. Consciously or unconsciously, every young writer in Norway owes Hamsun a debt. He introduced an absolutely new note into his native language, established a new scale of word values, pointed to fresh uses for the older one. The effect was startling, as one of his critics aptly said: "Hamsun had brought something 'American' into the language—a lightning smartness, an audacious