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Reading: Passive Resistance in George Gissing’s New Grub Street and Knut Hamsun’s Sult

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Passive Resistance in George Gissing’s New Grub Street and Knut Hamsun’s Sult

Author:

Zeynep Harputlu Shah

Siirt University, TR
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Abstract

Gissing’s New Grub Street (1891) and Hamsun’s Sult (1890) depict distinctive voices of outcast young artists suffering from urban poverty, displacement and isolation, and reveal a deeper insight into wider questions on urban modernity, passive resistance and a fragmented identity. The plots and semi-autobiographical accounts of these texts locate them specifically in late-nineteenth century Kristiania (Oslo) and London by focusing on changing standards of literary culture in the 1880s and 1890s. Hamsun’s emphasis on the subjective individual and Gissing’s emphasis on representing realist social groupings offer us complementary accounts of the experience of rootlessness, the self-division of outcast emigrant writers and the difficulty of survival by sticking to their own terms in creating and presenting their works of art in the capital. A comparative reading of these texts helps us to see not only their city-specific contexts, but also a transnational understanding of the commercialisation of art and the passive resistance of the artists that spanned the national borders of England and Norway. These urban novels, I suggest, perform a critical resistance to the assimilating forces of late-nineteenth-century modernity and changing economic conditions with the aim of preserving artistic integrity and freedom.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.35360/njes.492
How to Cite: Harputlu Shah, Z., 2019. Passive Resistance in George Gissing’s New Grub Street and Knut Hamsun’s Sult. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 18(1), pp.95–120. DOI: http://doi.org/10.35360/njes.492
Published on 20 Aug 2019.

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