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Home Contact us Help Free delivery worldwide. Free delivery worldwide. Bestselling Series. Harry Potter. Popular Features. New Releases. Growth of the Soil. Description The epic novel of man and nature that won its author the Nobel Prize in Literature. When it was first published in , Growth of the Soil was immediately recognized as a masterpiece. In the story of Isak, who leaves his village to clear a homestead and raise a family amid the untilled tracts of the Norwegian backcountry, Knut Hamsun evokes the elemental bond between humans and the land.

Newly translated by the distinguished Hamsun scholar Sverre Lyngstad, Growth of the Soil is a work of preternatural calm, stern beauty, and biblical power - and the crowning achievement of one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. Other books in this series. Meditations Marcus Aurelius. Add to basket. Letters from a Stoic Seneca. The Republic Plato. Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad. Frankenstein Mary Shelley. Eichmann in Jerusalem Hannah Arendt.

Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte. Thus Spoke Zarathustra Friedrich Nietzsche. The Three Theban Plays Sophocles. The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli. Twelve Angry Men Reginald Rose. Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen. Beyond Good and Evil Friedrich Nietzsche. Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte. Pride and Prejudice Anne Rees Jones.

The Histories Herodotus. Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy. Review quote By the Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature "Knut Hamsun's writing is magical, his sentences are glowing, he could write about anything and make it alive. Singer admitted to being 'hypnotized' by him; Hesse called him his favorite writer; Hemingway recommended his novels to Scott Fitzgerald; Gide compared him to Dostoyevsky, but believed Hamsun was 'perhaps even more subtle.

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Growth of the Soil , please sign up. Mustafa Ali Saba Very romantic book, human essence, the connection between man and nature. I really recommend this, it would change your life. See 2 questions about Growth of the Soil…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jun 25, Lisa rated it really liked it Shelves: nobels , books-to-read-before-you-die. A dull and desolate existence? Nay, least of all. A man had everything; his powers above, his dreams, his loves, his wealth of superstition.

Those two understood the attraction and oppression of life lived on the harsh limits, dictated by nature's omnipresent volatility, and by a small community's shared values and superstitions, as well as power structures and intolerance, based on fear of things unknown. The landscape in which hardworking farmers settled is breathtakingly beautiful in summer: dark green woods, light green fields, flowers of all colours and shapes around the glittery blue waters of the lakes, farms spread out between small churches. But once you stop and talk to people or spend time with relatives, as the case can be , the short time span of the beautiful summer sneaks into conversations within minutes.

Even nowadays, dialogues circle around when the first flowers appeared this spring, when the last snow storm hit in Stockholm, it was 11th May, and many apple trees - mine included - lost their budding flowers , how much rain is needed to make vegetables grow, but not rot over the short summer. Light hardly fades at night, but it is chilly, even in July, and people know instinctively that they have to catch each sun ray in order to steel themselves for winter.

You can still find traces of Knut Hamsun's epic tale of the quiet, monosyllabic farmer life in Norway in the rural dialects, superstitions and conservative mindset. A foreigner would be recognised immediately, in these remote woods. There is something silently heroic in the constant fight against nature to make the soil fertile to feed hungry children, and Hamsun's love of his own cultural background shines through the prose on every page. However, his later identification with fascist Germany may also find an explanation in the worship of the Nordic, the fear of foreign influences, the focus on protecting national identity rather than accepting a range of new perspectives.

The political stain of Hamsun's later years does not take away from his narrative power, but it should be mentioned as part of who he was, and what he developed into. Seeing both the brilliant writer and the Nazi supporter will give a nuanced picture of the different facets of life in Scandinavia at that time. It is neither idealistic nor monstrous, just shaped by the conditions under which people lived, worked and mingled with each other. Understanding the dynamics of remote farmer communities is still relevant, and Hamsun's sharp perceptions and colorful descriptions open up a a strangely closed world and make it accessible to a wider, international audience.

View all 29 comments. Regardless of my own views on Hamsun the man I'm sure I'm not the only one to be bothered by his Nazi sympathies there is no doubt Hamsun the novelist is up there with the best of them. Very rarely would I describe a novel as having a biblical power within it's pages, but Growth of the Soil carried with it something greater than just being a tale of man's elemental bond with the earth. He switches from the first-person narrative of earlier novels to a stately, almost distant third person perspective which I found extraordinarily effective.

With incredibly rich characters that are always deep in thought or flustered with feelings, the truthful perspective of existence and experience resulted in a tour de force level of thoughtful and textured storytelling. Isak and Inger were characters I didn't want to leave, I miss them already. Our ancestors, there prosperous dreams, and the deepest yearning for a warm and loving Homecoming. It simply didn't disappoint. Fully deserved landing Hamsun with the Nobel Prize in Literature.

For anyone interested in the day to day lives of early settlers this is a beautifully crafted must read. View all 23 comments. Sep 24, s.

Growth of the soil (Hamsun)

Shelves: nobel-prize-winners , hamsun , nature. Powerful in its sublime simplicity, Growth is the life and times of Isak, following him as he cuts his legacy from the untamed wilds of Norway. I would recommend anyone with an interest in the autho 'Then comes the evening. He was also reported to be one of the few people to ever talk down to Hitler, causing Hitler to dismiss him and bury himself away in rage for several days when Hamsun insisted upon releasing Norwegian prisoners of war who were sentenced to death by firing squad.

Hamsun was a massive literary inspiration to many of his contemporaries, being highly praised by authors such as Hemingway, Hesse and even Bukowski, and his luckily novels do not reflect this unflattering political alignment. This novel was however issued in field editions to German soldiers during WWII, which is understandable as the novel exudes a deep love for ones homeland. Putting aside all the ugly Nazi business, Hamsun has a brilliant mind and voice and it would be a shame for his novels to be passed over.

Growth of the Soil , written 27 years after his other classic and debut novel, and one of my personal favorite books of all-time, Hunger displays Hamsun at a much more matured writing style. While Hunger was gritty, raw and frantic, Growth delivers a very controlled and serene prose. The typical quirks of Hamsun are still present, and avid readers will find his unmistakable voice booming from the pages.

It is quite impressive how so little yet so much seems to transpire in this relatively short novel pgs in the Penguin Classics edition and the vast length of time that goes by. The novel begins with a youthful Isak setting out on his own and by the end he is reflecting upon old age as he begins to embrace the deterioration of his strength and body and leave the future in the hands of his full grown children. He masterfully manipulates time, as it passes in spurts sometimes burning quickly through chunks of years or slowly moving through a season, yet the pace and flow never falters as Hamsun seems to evenly disperse his timeline.

Characters have always been a strong point for Hamsun. Here readers will find a colorful cast of some of the most human characters since Tolstoy. Hamsun has a charm of seemingly bringing you into the ever growing Sellenara home of Isak and Inger and allowing you to cozy up by the fire with the family. You watch their struggles, successes, sadness and share in the local gossip over the course of generations, giving the novel a feel that will put fans of East of Eden or The Good Earth right at home. Geissler, the enigmatic manic-depressive who turns up from time to time, is the books most memorable character.

His monologue near the end will echo within you for months to come and contains a message that is still timely today. The real heart of this novel, however, is the land itself.

Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun

The focus primarily remains out in the wilderness and usually stays behind amongst the fields and mountains even when characters travel into town. He shows the land as being the true home and heart of a family, as the characters rely upon the land and live off the fruits of their blood and sweat. There is magical little moments where the natural world and the human world comingle spiritually; where Inger witnesses tiny fish singing to her or when the ducks seem to speak to the son with their voice passing through his soul.

Knut Hamsun has a power to take such a mundane chain of events and portray it in verbal majesty to rival the overgrown backlands of Norway. It is no surprise the Nobel committee honored him with the Nobel Prize for Literature in shortly after this novel achieved great success. If you want to take a trip to your roots and revert back to nature, which Hamsun would argue is the way it should be, this is a perfect novel for you. It rewards a patient reader, as it slowly reveals its heart if you sit back, relax and let it unfold around you like a morning sunrise. This is could be a great introduction to Hamsun, although I would recommed Hunger over this as it is more accessible.

And then it was evening, and I need to go to sleep. Jul 22, Meghan rated it it was amazing.

Unit6: Growth of the Soil

Despite the fact that this book won Hamsun a Nobel Prize in Literature, it is often Hamsun's most misunderstood novel. Even when things do happen, Hamsun's writing is surprisingly calm despite the possibility of disaster. What I believe it comes down to is this: This books is not so much about Isak changing as it is about the "modern world" encroaching on Isak's life. From the strange secti Despite the fact that this book won Hamsun a Nobel Prize in Literature, it is often Hamsun's most misunderstood novel.

From the strange section in which Isak has to be led through the process of obtaining legal ownership of the land he has tilled for decades, to the son who appears less and less at the family estate, to finally Isak seeing an apparition of the Devil in the forest he has traversed for years, this book is ultimately not a story of a man who changes, but of changes circling a man of a dying breed. Mar 29, Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly rated it it was amazing.

Get this edition. On the front cover is a young man walking on plowed ground. From there, at once, as if it is a crime to make pleasure wait, you go straight to its first chapter. No introduction. Absolutely nothing about who the author is, or his Get this edition. Absolutely nothing about who the author is, or his other books, not even about his having won the Nobel Prize for Literature. No mention of whatever awards the novel or the author got. No blurbs. Ah, except the one at the back cover. One solitary praise, from another writer, H. He said: "I do not know how to express the admiration I feel for this wonderful book without seeming to be extravagant.

I am not usually lavish with my praise, but indeed the book impresses me as among the very greatest novels I have ever read. It is wholly beautiful; it is saturated with wisdom and humor and tenderness. It needed nothing before it. No preliminaries, no teasers, or encomium. It pulls you captive right at its powerful first paragraph, then pins you down helpless, your eyes riveted towards one beautiful page after another, in all, an unending chorus of debilitating prose that would make you weak on your knees. Eyah, Herregud!

How can it ever be possible that someone could write amazingly like this, using the most humble materials for a story: Isak, the hairy, physically ugly, illiterate peasant; his wife Inger, the hare-lipped Amazon with nice legs; the family they raised in the Norwegian wilderness; their mundane farm life?

And yet only a 4. Ho, ptro, huttch, hoy huit! A few lost souls gave it 2 stars, some 3. Mine was the strongest 5 I had given a book. But maybe it was just me? Was it because, long ago when I was much younger, I too lived by myself in a wild country for a year , with my pig, chickens and dogs as daily companions? Was it perhaps because I also knew how a long hike feels with your shoulders groaning with a heavy load, or see people only occasionally and commune with these simplest of minds eagerly during these rare moments, get down sick and trust only in the rustic air and cool spring water for cure, and see the world as it was created and before man recreated it?


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H'm, I don't know. I am "all but nothing in all humanity" and literature is a mystery to me. View all 24 comments. Oct 07, Sidharth Vardhan rated it liked it Shelves: has-devil-in-it , list , europe , nobel. It started off greatly. Great setting, close to nature and a farmer as protagonist. Isaac is a tiller of soil and loves his job passionately. And continues doing it, refusing better opportunities and while a whole town develops around him, he still continues to look down upon anything industrial.

There are a couple of powerful scenes scattered around as well - such as one where he can't dig out a rock because of his ageing body and is embarrassed or where he must seek the legal ownership of land It started off greatly.


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There are a couple of powerful scenes scattered around as well - such as one where he can't dig out a rock because of his ageing body and is embarrassed or where he must seek the legal ownership of land he thought he had owned for such a long time. Books about lives close to nature are something I like but you need to have a plot in there somewhere. It is not that nothing happens in the novel, in fact a lot, too much happens in the novel - Humsun seems to have fit a Marathon ground in space of a meter track, but none of the action derives the message home, whatever the message is.

There are, for example, two incidences of infanticides done by new mothers and I don't know what the point was - that new mothers should not be left alone with babies? I mean who else would care for those little, ugly, smelling, foolish things? It is same with rest of the novel, a lot of action that didn't prompt much of thinking in me.

Moreover Isac was too self-sure and his confidence always found success. Bad seasons didn't distress him, as they would, IMO, any farmer, especially in days when artificial methods of harvesting weren't available - and there were so few of thoess bad seasons. The only source of problems, besides new mothers and women in general that is, was modernity and society.

Those are like devilish inspirations which fill minds of people with all sorts of wicked wishes to live in them. I could like societies to move closer to nature - find a balance, more trees and more tolerance to animals and stuff, but returning to complete primitivism is totally another thing and that, unfortunately, was centeral theme of novel if you were to be believe Wiki. Isac was an Humsun's idea of an ideal man - and like all writers wanting to depict their idea of ideal man, Humsun seems to have forgotten that people are diverse.

There is none of that beauty of his other novel 'Hungar' in here. View all 6 comments. Jan 01, Aubrey rated it liked it Shelves: translated , nobel-prize-people , norwegian , 3-star , 1-read-on-hand , reviewed , r-goodreads , r Saddening as it is, the knowledge made me a little more mindful and a lot less forgiving of the fundamental differences of opinion between the author and myself. Ultimately, it was the glorious reception that the book has been met with that made me decide on a lower rating.

This is not one of those tomes that require my defense. What I enjoyed was 3. What I enjoyed was the easy pace, the healthy tendrils of culturally rich storyline, the understated poetry of humans fully committed to their landscape. What I didn't enjoy was the overt polemicizing, not out of any general dislike for such things but the fact of my many disagreements.

Sometimes the naturalness of this occurring with certain authors dissuades me from thinking less of their books, but here it is impossible to belittle what I didn't like in order to portray the book in a better light to others. If you know me, you know what's coming, and while I'd like to stop bothering myself over poor portrayal of women and other aspects correlating with my personal characteristics, it's not going to happen any time soon. However, there's something new added to my usual stew of complaints: Hamsun's portrayal of living in anything larger than a single farmstead, and the judgment he passes on those towns, cities, and all its citizens.

The cornerstone of this novel are the cares and characteristics of one Isak: strong, single-minded, and wholly subsumed in his desire to make his living on the soil. Unlike Independent People , all of his work bears fruit to an extraordinary degree, as does everyone and everything else around him so long as it submits to his way of living. Anything that goes against this is wrong, weak, spoiled and unnatural with the blame for such often lying in the midst of many an urbanized center.

It happens to his wife Inger, it happens to his son Eleseus, over and over again Hamsun builds up these straw efforts to live on something other than rural fortitude and knocks them down again. I wouldn't have minded it nearly so much if Hamsun hadn't been so smug about the misfortunes of his characters whenever they deviate from the superhuman farmer mentality.

I also wouldn't have minded had he at least been consistent about his lauding and condemnations. It gets my goat when all the life threatening dangers and complex issues of giving birth in rural areas are bundled off into sensationalist accounts of infanticide and demonized women with severely belittled arguments galore, while the insufferably proud and corrupt politician Geissler is turned into a glorified trickster god simply because he makes Isak happy.

What is Geissler if not the hallmark of urban power, his wealth and fame built off of deceitful machinations, his only reason for cozening himself with Isak being revenge on the town that justly indicted him, all of this portrayed by Hamsun as not just acceptable, but heroic? I have to wonder how the story would have gone if Isak had been truly left to living solely off his land; how well it would have gone had Geissler yet again abused the rural landowner's lack of real estate knowledge and traded their copper mine for a far paltrier sum that ran out far before the book was through.

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It's also funny to note that while everyone else becomes more twisted and malformed the longer they stay in urban centers, Geissler simply wanders unscathed through some sort of mysterious unknown when he's not dropping in to coddle his investment in Isak. He's not writing his letters to get Inger a lighter sentence and negotiating with his wife's family for financial assurance out in the rural home so esteemed in the book, that's for sure.

So where's the something "rotting him from within" akin to the case of Elesus? Nowhere Hamsun can tell. All of this amounts to a single issue: Hamsun obviously has a message, and I'm not buying it. Not everyone has the physical strength and soul consuming interest in building and growing and shiny tools to take the path Isak did and become rich in the process.

Not everyone has the sheer luck to claim copper ridden land and not be cheated of it due to complete ignorance, or have that luck and ignorance extend to the realities of childbirth and just what physical and psychological traumas can occur due to having a womb, a male home provider who wants sex, and no contraception. The rating would have done better had I liked the prose or setting or cultural saturation more, or not read the far more complex and nonjudgmental Independent People beforehand.

However, if you want to convince me of positives of bucolic living, making a big deal out of certain issues at the expense of others that I hold close to my heart is not the way to do it. View all 14 comments. As much as a reader may want to come before a book with an open mind, there are always at least three barriers to an unadulterated read.

First and most obviously come the reader's circumstances, his history, his beliefs, his lack of time or his state of mind at any one point of the reading experience. The other two are optional and vary depending on the book: the cover with all its contents, from the pleasant or poor title, the famous or obscure author, its possible synopsis on the book flap an As much as a reader may want to come before a book with an open mind, there are always at least three barriers to an unadulterated read.

The other two are optional and vary depending on the book: the cover with all its contents, from the pleasant or poor title, the famous or obscure author, its possible synopsis on the book flap and its aesthetics and the other books the reader has read. Vonnegut once wrote that there were but 7 overarching narratives which, with the variation of the settings, characters, and details, made up all literature. Any one book on a given topic notably, the never ending list of historical romances, fantasy and sci fi that often seem like botched photocopies of each other will reverberate past reading experience and often call for a comparison with another work.

The reason is, of course, part of the cover - namely the author, the Nobel laureate Knut Hamsun. Hamsun is well known for his rampant support of the Nazi cause and of their invasion of his native Norway - nothing unheard of at the time. Perhaps even more particular is his continued support of Nazism even after the end of WW2, when the elderly Hamsun wrote a eulogy for Hitler singing of his tremendous efforts to renew a "proper" society. It is an old conundrum that cannot be avoided: does a book's worth depend on its author, or does it stand alone as a masterpiece?

I have always firmly believed a work of art to be just that, an independent story that must not be associated with its author and which stands on its own, unalterable, after its completion. Hamsun's mastery of storytelling is evident throughout the book, and the raw, dark story of a first settler in an uninhabited area of the Far North and the subsequent establishment of a growing settlement is nothing short of captivating. Do Hamsun's Nazi sympathies detract from the story's morals?

Isaac B. Singer, the Nobel laureate of Jewish heritage, a strong post-war proponent of the Yiddish literary tradition, vastly praised and defended Hamsun's work as groundbreaking despite its author's anti-Semitic views. I would have to agree with Singer: Hamsun's work is not embedded in his own hateful perspectives. But the truth is that it makes it difficult to read the story without subconsciously scouting for the odd remark, the hidden idealism. It is distracting. And it is perhaps simple to see the connections: the conservatism, the love of simple rural life, the despise for the 'expert' or any person undertaking non-physical labour.

It makes it exponentially more complicated to understand certain sentences as just a writer proclaiming past, lost ideals without wanting to convey them himself - namely, a section where the astute but volatile ex-sheriff Geissler, complains that his son is lost to a new generation which cares for nothing worthwhile due to the teaching taught by "the Jew and the Yankee". The point of this review is that one can, and should, abstain from this type of analysis. With the exception of the above quote, such an analysis of "Growth of the Soil" would only prove to be an exercise in confirmation bias.

In fact, "Growth of the Soil" is at first a story of a man alone in the wild, and a symbiosis between the two that grows from hard work - only to then turn into a story about a man and his family no longer alone in the wild, but struggling against society and their own prejudices to maintain whatever way of life they must lead to survive. Its perspectives, beyond a call for an ancient harmony between man and nature, of rural values, are surprisingly biting in some of the topics that still haunted the early 20th century: infanticide or perhaps more relevant today, abortion ; universal suffrage; the rights of women and the regrettable label of bastardy.

So I wholeheartedly recommend this book: it reminded me of Laxness' "Independent People", an equally dark perspective of rural life with a message of hard work and hope. It is beautifully written, and it does not come up with any ideological message, although it could well have done. View all 7 comments.


  • Growth of the Soil - Wikipedia.
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  • The above sentence is from early on in the novel and is easily my favorite, though it is with the allegoric 3. The above sentence is from early on in the novel and is easily my favorite, though it is with the allegorical aspects of this novel that I struggled. I struggled even more so with some of Hamsun's ideas, especially those embodied in the female characters.

    The ending is beautifully written, if too romantic of the land for my tastes. View all 12 comments. View 2 comments. Expected proto-Nazi narrative propaganda. Loved the steady tone, how the tense switches within paragraphs present tense for scenes, otherwise simple or continual past. Like in Tolstoy, POV able to access thoughts of so many characters thanks to steadiness. Loved the setting, the various character types, the morality, the petty power ploys, the longing for more than life in the woods, the vision of the devil with shivering pines nearby, the mines, Inger's randiness, the fallen tree, the big stone toward the end, the infanticides and the overall overarching transcendent theme about achieving eternal life through cultivation of self, society, and soil.

    Only one anti-semitic comment toward the end uttered by one of the book's most charismatic characters -- he also rips Americans too -- whatever tempts settlers from life in synch with trees and mountains is dissed in this. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to join a back-to-the-land movement. Wish I'd read this soon after Hunger back in or so. Hope to get to Pan and Mysteries before the end of the year. Jul 23, Lynne King rated it it was amazing Shelves: norwegian-authors , books-to-read , books-to-read , nobel-laureates , knut-hamsun.

    A ten star book and a true masterpiece. What more can one possibly say? I will state what H. Wells said: "I do not know how to express the admiration I feel for this wonderful book without seeming to be extravagant. It is wholly beautiful: it is saturated with wisdom and humor and tenderness". I follow his thoughts entirely.

    This novel is divided into two books. Isak goes i A ten star book and a true masterpiece. Isak goes into the wilderness in Norway. He is way into the hinterland. He finds a place that suits him, not even thinking that the land belongs to the state. This is a book of survival but with a man who is so happy with his new found state. He cultivates land, does a little building, acquires livestock and tells a passing Lapp that he would like to meet a woman. His wish is granted with the arrival of Inger. She has a hairlip and there's an old saying that if you are given a hare, well a hairlip is going to arrive.

    She gets on well with Isak, too well in fact as soon she has two boys. But the odd thing is that she has to be alone at each birth and always ensures that Isak is not there. Everything is fine until the arrival of the third child, a girl. I was mesmerised by this part of the book. Anyway, life continues and Inger proves to be quite a fascinating individual who finds that her world suddenly takes a completely different direction that will influence her entire life.

    Anyway all in all this is yes a depressing, multi-faceted, but brilliant book and I'm not at all surprised that Hamsun won the Nobel Prize for Literature in I had loved "Hunger" by him but this book indeed surpasses it. View all 4 comments. It follows the story of a Norwegian man who settles on undeveloped wooded land in rural Norway. The author clearly wanted to make the point that the soil is the source of true value, and that hard work consistently applied over many years was required to turn that inherent value into wealth.

    Growth of the Soil

    As part of the plot the author shows that the apparent easy wealth from mining is illusory. To illustrate the importance of work, the book's cast of characters includes a variety of personalities illustrating how those who don't work will most likely not succeed. It is also made clear that those who are content of live simply will fare better than those with expensive living habits. The role of women is also highlighted, and two instances of infanticide are included as part of the plot. In the first case the guilty woman spends six years in a prison where she learns how to sew and the hare-lip with which she was born is corrected by surgery.

    This is clearly an assertion that prisons function best when they emphasize reformation over punishment. The second case of infanticide that's part of the book is that of a single woman who felt driven to it my societal pressures. At the trial there's a local woman—the sheriff's wife—who demands the opportunity to give testimony regarding the case. The following is a portion of what she told the court. Men make the laws; we women have no influence on this. But can any man imagine what it means to a woman to have a child? Has he experienced the anxiety, has he felt the excruciating pain and woe and screams?

    In this case, a maid has had a child. She is unmarried, so she is supposed to bear this child in her body while trying to hide it. Why hide it? Because of society. Society has contempt for the unmarried woman who is pregnant. Not only does it not protect her, it persecutes her with contempt and shame. Isn't that awful? It is enough to infuriate any person with a beating heart. The young woman is not only going to bring a child into the world, which may seem bad enough, but she is also to be treated as a criminal because of it. I venture to say that it was sheer luck that this young woman sitting here in the dock, that her child accidentally was born in that creek and drowned.

    It was fortunate both for her and the child.