‘Going off the Beaten Path’

Knut Hamsun’s Forays into Travel Writing


  • Tom Conner UiT The Arctic University of Norway




America, autobiography, capitalism, Caucasus, globalization, Hamsun, materialism, memoirs, Russia, transgression, travelogue, travel writing


This paper examines Knut Hamsun’s travel writing, from his many newspaper articles about America published before The Cultural Life of Modern America (Fra det moderne Amerikas aandsliv, 1889) – his idiosyncratic and very personal reckoning with America – to his only real (i.e., formal) travelogue or travel book, In Wonderland (I Æventyrland, 1903), documenting his visit to the Russian Caucasus. The article focuses on some common themes as well as striking differences among these works, so as to highlight Hamsun’s creative use of the travel genre. As the term “foray” in my title suggests, there is something illicit and transgressive about Hamsun’s travel writing. He does not readily conform to the norms of the genre; rather, he transforms the genre to suit his own purposes by infusing a large dose of his idiosyncratic genius in everything he writes about the faraway lands he visits.

Author Biography

Tom Conner, UiT The Arctic University of Norway

Tom Conner is Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin. He was born in Sweden, grew up in Asia and attended university in France and in the U.S. He earned his Ph.D. in French and Comparative Literature at Yale University and also studied at the Sorbonne and the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. He has served as Visiting Professor at the University of the Philippines-Diliman and at Nihon University, Japan, for many years. He is the author and editor of five books: Chateaubriand’s Mémoires d’outre-tombe: A Portrait of the Artist as Exile; Dreams in French Literature: the Persistent Voice; André Gide’s Politics: Rebellion and Ambivalence; Globalization Redux: New Name, Same Game; and, most recently, The Dreyfus Affair and the Rise of the French Public Intellectual. He is a frequent contributor to journals, such as The French Review, and serves as editor of The NECTFL

Review. He is currently working on a book about left-wing French intellectuals in the period 1898–1935. 




How to Cite

Conner, Tom. 2016. “‘Going off the Beaten Path’: Knut Hamsun’s Forays into Travel Writing”. Nordlit, no. 38 (April):182–203. https://doi.org/10.7557/13.3766.