Short summary - Pan - Knut Hamsun

Scandinavian literature summaries - 2023

Short summary - Pan
Knut Hamsun

The author uses a form of narration in the first person. His hero, thirty-year-old lieutenant Thomas Glan, recalls the events that took place two years ago, in 1855. The letter that came by mail served as an impetus - two green bird feathers lay in an empty envelope. Glan decides for his own pleasure and in order to simply pass the time to write about what he had experienced. Then he spent about a year in the very north of Norway, in Nordland.

Glan lives in a forest lodge with his hunting dog Aesop. It seems to him that only here, far from the city bustle alien to him, in the midst of complete loneliness, watching the unhurried life of nature, admiring the colors of the forest and the sea, feeling their smells and sounds, he is truly free and happy.

One day, he waits out the rain in the boat shed, where the local rich merchant Mac with his daughter Edward and a doctor from the neighboring parish also take shelter from the downpour. A random episode leaves almost no trace in Glan's soul.

Meeting a mail steamer at the pier, he draws attention to a pretty young girl, Eva, whom he takes for the daughter of a village blacksmith.

Glan gets food by hunting, going to the mountains, takes cheese from Lapps-reindeer herders. Admiring the majestic beauty of nature, he feels himself an inseparable part of it, he eschews the company of people, reflecting on the vanity of their thoughts and actions. In the midst of the riot of spring, he experiences a strange, disturbing feeling that sweetly disturbs and intoxicates the soul.

Edward and the doctor visit Glan. The girl is delighted with how the hunter arranged his life, but it would still be better if he began to dine at their house. The doctor examines the hunting equipment and notices the figurine of Pan on the powder flask, the men talk for a long time about the god of forests and fields, full of passionate love.

Glan realizes that he is seriously infatuated with Edward, he is looking for a new meeting with her, and therefore goes to Mac's house. There he spends the most boring evening in the company of the host's guests, busy playing cards, and Edward does not pay any attention to him. Returning to the lodge, he notes with surprise that Mack sneaks into the blacksmith's house at night. And Glan himself willingly accepts the shepherdess he meets.

Glan explains to Edward that he does not hunt for the sake of killing, but to live. Soon the shooting of birds and animals will be prohibited, then you will have to fish. Glan talks about the life of the forest with such rapture that it impresses the merchant's daughter, she has never heard such unusual speeches.

Edwarda invites Glan to a picnic and in every possible way emphasizes her disposition towards him in public. Glan feels embarrassed, trying to smooth over the girl's reckless antics. When the next day, Edward confesses that he loves him, he loses his head with happiness.

Love captures them, but the relationship of young people is difficult, there is a struggle of pride. Edward is capricious and self-willed, the strangeness and illogicality of her actions sometimes infuriates Glan. One day, he jokingly gives the girl two green feathers as a keepsake.

Difficult love experiences completely exhaust Glan, and when Eve, who is in love with him, comes to his lodge, this brings relief to his restless soul. The girl is simple-minded and kind-hearted, he feels good and calm with her, he can express her painful feelings to her, even if she is not even able to understand him.

In an extremely excited state, Glan returns to his lodge after the ball arranged by Edward, how many barbs and unpleasant moments he had to endure that evening! And he is also insanely jealous of the doctor, a lame opponent has a clear advantage. Out of frustration, Glan shoots himself in the leg.

Glan, who is treating him, asks if he and Edwarda had a mutual inclination? The Doctor clearly sympathizes with Glan. Edwarda has a strong character and an unhappy disposition, he explains, she expects a miracle from love and hopes for the appearance of a fairy prince. Domineering and proud, she is used to being in charge of everything, and hobbies in essence do not affect her heart.

Mac brings a guest to the house, the baron, with whom Edward spends all the time from now on. Glan seeks solace in the company of Eve, he is happy with her, but she does not fill either his heart or his soul. Mac finds out about their relationship and dreams only of how to get rid of an opponent.

When meeting with Edward Glan, he is restrainedly cold. He decided that he would not allow himself to be fooled by a headstrong girl, a dark fisherwoman. Edwarda is hurt when she learns of Glan's connection to Eve. She does not miss the opportunity to snipe at his expense about an affair with someone else's wife. Glan is unpleasantly surprised to learn about the true state of affairs, he was convinced that Eve was the daughter of a blacksmith.

The vengeful Mac sets fire to his lodge, and Glan is forced to move to an abandoned fishing shack by the pier. Having learned about the departure of the baron, he decides to celebrate this event with a kind of salute. Glan puts gunpowder under the rock, intending to set fire to the fuse at the moment the steamer leaves and arrange an unusual spectacle. But Mac guesses his intention. He arranges so that at the moment of the explosion on the shore under the rock is Eve, who dies under a collapse.

Glan comes to Mac's house to announce his departure. Edward is absolutely calm about his decision. She asks only to leave Aesop for her as a keepsake. It seems to Glan that she will torture the dog, then caress, then flog with a whip. He kills the dog and sends his corpse to Edward.

Two years have passed, but it’s necessary - nothing is forgotten, the soul aches, cold and dreary, Glan reflects. What if you leave to unwind, hunt somewhere in Africa or India?

The epilogue to the novel is the short story "The Death of Glan", the events of which date back to 1861. These are the notes of a man who was with Glan in India, where they hunted together. It was he, provoked by Glan, who shot him right in the face, presenting the incident as an accident. He has no remorse for what he did. He hated Glan, who seemed to seek doom and got what he wanted.