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O facto de a Escandinávia me fascinar há muito fez com que eu tivesse este livro na wishlist há anos; o facto de querer partilhar eventualmente com a pessoa-mais-especial-já-referida-neste-blog a experiência da leitura de Knut Hamsun fez com que a compra acontecesse.

Hunger é a história de um jovem escritor que, na sua pobreza, passa fome e luta para ter um telhado sob o qual dormir. Sorri nas primeiras páginas ao lembrar-me imediatamente do Raskolnikov do Dostoevsky - no entanto, o narrador de Hunger enfrenta a sua situação de maneira diferente. Felizmente, convenhamos, já que a história é semi-auto-biográfica.

A história passa-se em Kristiania (agora Oslo), que é uma cidade que eu quero definitivamente conhecer. Quero dizer:

foto googlada e retirada de um site genérico de fotos

O narrador passa fome e sente as consequências no corpo e na mente - não tem casa, não tem emprego, não tem comida e não tem dinheiro, e ainda assim, tal como o Raskolnikov, sente-se imensamente superior aos locais com quem se cruza. Ele tem talento, é certo - mas sente que é culpa de Deus e do destino por não estar a ter o sucesso para o qual nasceu. Isto é possivelmente já um sintoma da loucura que ele atinge.

The devil only knew why you had to be turned into a veritable freak just because of hunger! I experienced rage once more, its final flare-up, a spasm… Here I was, with a head on my shoulders without its equal in the whole country, and with a pair of fists, by golly, that could grind the town porter to fine dust, and yet I was turning into a freak from hunger, right here in the city of Kristiania!

Ainda assim, Raskoln- o narrador tem demasiado orgulho para recorrer à caridade alheia, para pedir dinheiro. Mais que isso, nos poucos momentos em que tem dinheiro, dá-o a outras pessoas.

Rotten Patches were beginning to appear in my inner being, black spongy growths that were spreading more and more. And God sat in his heaven keeping a watchful eye on me, making sure that my destruction took place according to all the rules of the game, slowly and steadily, with no letup. But in the pit of hell the devils were raising their hackles in fury because it was taking me such a long time to commit a cardinal sin, an unforgivable sin for which God in his righteousness had to cast me down.

No entanto, o narrador mantém-se optimista. Não admite a sua fraqueza, mesmo quando não aguenta no estômago a pouca comida que consegue, mesmo quando as suas únicas posses são a roupa que tem no corpo e uma manta que nem é dele, mesmo quando começa a recorrer a meios menos honestos, mesmo quando vê o mundo como conspirando contra ele. Está tão convencido da sua superioridade que insiste, mesmo quando não tem onde viver, não tem como pagar a renda, adoece, começa a comer bocados da sua roupa e chega mesmo a contemplar autofagia.

No meio disto tudo, há a obsessão com uma mulher, a quem ele chama de Ylajali. O encontro entre os dois na casa dela foi uma das minhas partes preferidas do livro:

"Well, let us sit down, then; no, not down there by the door; you are far too reserved! Come here -you there, and I here - so, that's it... ugh, it's such a bore with reticent people! One has to say and do everything oneself; one gets no help to do anything. Now, for example, you might just as well put your arm over the back of my chair; you could easily have thought of that much out of your own head, couldn't you? But if I say anything like that, you open your eyes as wide as if you couldn't believe what was being said. Yes, it is really true; I have noticed it several times; you are doing it now, too; but you needn't try to persuade me that you are always so modest; it is only when you don't dare to be otherwise than quiet. You were daring enough the day you were tipsy - when you followed me straight home and worried me with your witticisms. 'You are losing your book, madam; you are quite certainly losing your book, madam!' Ha, ha, ha! it was really shameless of you."


"Do you know," I said, "that... but, now, you mustn't get angry - when I went to bed last night I settled this arm for you... so... as if you lay on it... and then I went to sleep."
"Did you? That was lovely!" A pause. "But of course it could only be from a distance that you would venture to do such a thing, for otherwise..."
"Don't you believe I could do it otherwise?"
"No, I don't believe it."
"Ah, from me you may expect everything," I said, and I put my arm around her waist.
"Can I?" was all she said.
It annoyed me, almost wounded me, that she should look upon me as being so utterly inoffensive. I braced myself up, steeled my heart, and seized her hand; but she withdrew it softly, and moved a little away from me. That just put an end to my courage again; I felt ashamed, and looked out through the window. I was, in spite of all, in far too wretched a condition; I must, above all, not try to imagine myself any one in particular. It would have been another matter if I had met her during the time that I still looked like a respectable human being - in my old, well - off days when I had sufficient to make an appearance; and I felt fearfully downcast!
"There now, one can see!" she said, "now one can just see one can snub you with just the tiniest frown - make you look sheepish by just moving a little away from you"... she laughed, tantalizingly, roguishly, with tightly-closed eyes, as if she could not stand being looked at, either.
"Well, upon my soul!" I blurted out, "now you shall just see," and I flung my arms violently around her shoulders. I was mortified. Was the girl out of her senses? Did she think I was totally inexperienced! Ha! Then I would, by the living... No one should say of me that I was backward on that score. The creature was possessed by the devil himself! If it were only a matter of going at it, well...


"Are you mad?... Humph,... I want to hear what kind of a man you are... Ah, I am sure it is dreadful."
It hurt me that she should believe the worst of me; I was afraid of thrusting her away entirely, and I could not endure the misgivings she had as to my way of life. I would clear myself in her eyes, make myself worthy of her, show her that she was sitting at the side of a person almost angelically disposed. Why, bless me, I could count my falls up to date on my fingers. I related - related all - and I only related truth. I made out nothing any worse than it was; it was not my intention to rouse her compassion. I told her also that I had stolen five shillings one evening.
She sat and listened, with open mouth, pale, frightened, her shining eyes completely bewildered. I desired to make it good again, to disperse the sad impression I had made, and I pulled myself up.
"Well, it is all over now!" I said; "there can be no talk of such a thing happening again; I am saved now..."
But she was much dispirited. "The Lord preserve me!" was all she said, then kept silent. She repeated this at short intervals, and kept silent after each "the Lord preserve me."

Porque a realidade em que ele vivia fez com que ela tivesse mais medo dele do que se ele fosse um alcoólico. Nem era a pobreza que a assustava, mas a loucura. Adoro toda a não-relação deles.

O final é deixado em aberto, de forma algo esperançosa.


Podem comprar esta edição aqui, ou em português aqui.