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Knut Hamsun: Triumph and Tragedy PAUL KNAPLUND ON FEBRUARY 1952, one of the twen- 19, his death the New York Times devoted a tieth century’s outstanding authors, the full column to the life and achievements Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun, died of Knut Hamsun. He was called the literary lonely and unmourned. In 1920 when he giant of the north, “a writer of great was awarded the much coveted Nobel prize depth and tremendous power.” in literature Hamsun’s countrymen had Why then did Norway refuse to pay praised him to the skies. Norway was im- tribute to a son who had brought glory mensely proud of her famous son. Her to her name? The answer lies in the sad newspapers quoted at length the glowing and terrible fact that in April, 1940, when tributes paid him by literary critics the Norway strove desperately to stem the world over, and called attention to the fact horde of German invaders who slaughtered that his works were published in twenty- her sons and burned her homes, Hamsun three languages. But when he died, the hailed the enemy as a deliverer, and demise of Hamsun was barely mentioned praised Hitler, that foe of all Christian in Oslo’s newspapers. What had produced civilization. “Put down your arms” this radical change? Had he at 92 out- (“Nordmen! Kast borsa og ga hjem lived his fame? Or had his novels become igjen”) Hamsun shouted to his country. outmoded? To those last two questions the men as they resisted the enemy. Through- answer is an emphatic “NO!” Norwegians out the occupation, despite the brutality are proud of their longevity; Hamsun’s and ghastly crimes committed, Hamsun vitality was admired. And his remarkable steadfastly reiterated his original advice- CC prose epic, Growth of the Soil, has become submit.” one of the world‘s classics. The day after Learning of Hitler’s death Hamsun Modern Age 165 wrote: “I am unworthy to speak with re- son, but had shown himself to be a nithing sounding eloquence about Adolf Hider. . .. (a man false and without honor), the He was a warrior, a fighter for humanity, strongest derogatory term in the language a proclaimer of the gospel of justice for of Norsemen. all nations. He was a supreme reformer, As soon as the war ended, the arch-col- but it was his historical destiny to work laborator Vidkun Quisling and his blood- in an age of unprecedented brutality. May stained lieutenants were given short shrift. the ordinary citizens of Central Europe Quickly convicted, they suff ered the usual view Hider in that light; and meanwhile fate of traitors. Against others the Nor- we, his devoted followers, bow our heads wegian government proceeded more slow- at his death.’y2 ly. This was especially true in the case of Two years later Hamsun disavowed Knut Hamsun. He had been a giant among these opinions. On May 22, 1947, writing men, and he was past eighty when the Ger- to his friend Christian Gierloff, Hamsun man invasion occurred. He was first placed said; “Quite early I became aware of the under house arrest, and later underwent fact that personally Hitler was a tinker."^ ~ a lengthy psychiatric examination. Though But in the same letter he praised Joseph public feeling against him was bitter, two Goebbels who, it is generally admitted, years passed before Knut Hamsun was ran Hitler a close second as a “stinker.” brought to trial in 1947. “Goebbels,” Hamsun declared, “was a Despite his advanced age, his defective . . splendid man , a radiant human being hearing and failing eyesight, Hamsun vig- quite the opposite of Hitler who had orously defended himself in court. He gained control over In like spirit emphatically denied that he had ever be- Hamsun defended the malodorous Nor- trayed Norway. On the contrary, he as- wegian traitor, Vidkun Quisling, who, in serted that he had always sought to pro- December, 1939, had urged Hitler to at- mote her welfare. He had done only what tack Norway, and who during the occupa- he thought was right. It had been his sin- tion was a tool of the Germans.s cere belief that close association with Ger- The enigma of Hamsun’s behavior from many would foster the happiness and pros- 1940 to 1945 is the more baffling because perity of Norway. To resist the Germans in 1905, during the crisis attending the was, therefore, injurious to the best inter- dissolution of the Norwegian-Swedish un- ests of-his country. In his judgment it was ion, he had followed a strongly patriotic tantamount to treason. Moreover, it was line, volunteered for military service, and also a futile sacrifice of young lives. Un- even rebuked the revered nationalistic trained and ill-armed Norwegian recruits poet, Bjornstjerne Bjornson, for not being did not have the slightest chance against sufficiently enthusiastic in his country’s the invaders. Nor, in the opinion of Ham- cause. sun, could the Norwegian underground Thirty-five years later Hamsun gave aid hope to achieve anything. With some jus- and comfort to the plunderers of his father- tice, Hamsun claimed credit for having land. Patriotic Norwegians reacted in sor- made earnest, though often futile, efforts row and in anger against the author of to save from the firing squad men who whom they had long been proud. In the unwisely had resisted the occupying au- eyes of a vast majority of his countrymen thorities. Furthermore, he pointed out, he Hamsun, during the greatest national crisis had not joined the Norwegian Nazi party since 1814, had not only committed trea- (Nasjonal Samling) .6 166 Spring 1965 But it was on the basis of complete ig- against the prosecuting attorney and the norance of any Nazi misdeeds that Ham- psychiatrists, and protested the treatment sun made his strongest plea for acquittal. he had been subjected to during the trial? He was deaf and, he claimed, consequently Then in his ninety-first year he published isolated from the men and events of the a book, On Weed-choked Paths (Paa Cjen- Nazi period. “I did not know what was grodde Stier), which proves conclusively going on. Nobody told me,” he cried over that his mental powers were unimpaired. and over again.l Far from being an apology, the book How specious was this plea is glaringly teems with violent accusations. In master- shown by the fact that in 1940 Hamsun fully blended passages of laconic simplic- had urged his countrymen to submit to the ity and argumentation, Hamsun presents Germans on the grounds that his wide his story of ill-treatment and martyrdom. reading of newspapers, his extensive knowl- He portrays himself as the guileless, pa- edge of Nazi principles, and his varied triotic old man-a lamb hunted and torn experiences in life had made him especial- by ravenous wolves. Though facts are dis- ly well qualified to speak. He was an au- torted, the book, by presenting snatches thority on Nazism and its promoter, Adolf of autobiography, becomes a “must” for Hitler ; he appreciated the benefits Norway all students of the life and work of Knut would derive from German control. Anoth- Hamsun. A man from the north, probably er refutation of his plea that he was igno- fictitious, is introduced, and with his aid rant of Nazi misdeeds can be found in the the author conjures up word pictures of fact that Hitler’s blood purge of 1934 and arctic Norway where he spent his child- his pogrom against the Jews in November, hood and youth. The story of hitherto un- 1938, were widely publicized in Norway. known episodes from his life as a farm la- Furthermore, Hamsun’s wife and two sons borer in North Dakota add to the riches were members of Nasjonal Samling. A in this, the last of Hamsun’s publications. daughter who lived in Germany, his In the words of an English reviewer, Pau younger son who served as correspondent Gjengrodde Stier “is a fascinating psy- on the Russian front in 1943, and his wife chological document.”1° who spoke German well and visted Ger- In 1921 The London Times Literary many at least four times during the war, Supplement had written: “In the art of must all have kept Hamsun informed. depicting character Knut Hamsun has At his trial the accused steadfastly re- hardly an equal among living writers. [His fused to apologize or to retract anything books] deal with the soul and will of hu- he had said or written about Nazism. He manity.”ll The query naturally arises, how was furious over the psychiatrists’ exami- could this supremely gifted poet and novel- nation, and persistently uncooperative un- ist, this keen portrayer of “the soul and der their questioning. They therefore re- will of humanity,” go so far astray as to ported him senile. On the basis of their praise the vicious psychopath Adolf Hitler, findings the treason charge against him and accept without dismay Hitler’s actions, was dropped because “the accused suffers including the ghastliest deeds of genocide from mental deficiencies brought about by in recorded history? old age.’’8 In considering this intricate question Hamsun fiercely resented the grounds one must bear in mind world problems and for this verdict. In a long letter to the Nor- the climate of opinion in the first half of wegian state’s attorney he lashed out the present century. One must also sub- Modern Age 167 ject to scrutiny Hamsun the man as well youth, and early manhood. Let us consider as Hamsun the author. Rapidly changing Hamsun the man in that perspective.14 economic, political, and social issues Before he was three years old Hamsun brought forth a plethora of nostrums for was transplanted from his birthplace in real and imaginary ills. Among these nos- Gudbrandsdal, a valley in south central trums the theories of Karl Marx were most Norway, to the parish of Hamaroy well prominent. The period between the two within the arctic circle. His childhood was world wars was an era of great bewilder- spent in a region of majestic natural ment when the old moral order seemingly grandeur. Here he acquired a deep ap- was collapsing and the peoples of the world preciation of nature and its mystery. The were much attracted by the dictatorships magic of the arctic summer with mornings in MOSCOW, Rome, and Berlin. In the so- without beginning and evenings without called free world, voices decried discipline end, the awesomeness of winter storms, and inhibition. Such notions were exceed- and the arctic nights when the sudden out- ingly distasteful to Knut Hamsun, one who bursts of the varicolored aurora shot and had achieved world fame by hard work flickered across the sky-all these made a and rigid self-discipline. To him Nazism lasting impression on the sensitive mind seemed the way out of the morass of self- of the gifted boy. The descriptions of na- indulgence and social anarchy. ture in her shifting moods lend vividness * Despite his great gifts, Hamsun was to many of Hamsun’s novels and poems. strangely ambivalent in character. He was His lyricism stands forth with special clar- tyrannical and tender, careless and order- ity in the bewitchingly lovely poem, “The ly, penny-pinching and generous.12 While Isle on the Coastal morbidly sensitive to adverse criticism An isle in the ocean of his own work, he often savagely at- With luxuriant strand, tacked books by other writers and was ex- Here blossom flowers, tremely scornful of men of letters who Not seen by humans. mouthed platitudes with an air of pro- They watch like strangers fundity. Yet he gullibly accepted German And see me land. philosophical jargon about racial superior- My heart becomes ity. A strong individualist, he subscribed A mystic garden to the Nazi creed which aimed at reduc- With flowers like those Of the island. ing the individual to a slave of the state. With good reason Mrs. Hamsun labels her Impressions of the economic and social husband’s character “ ~ o m p I e x . ~ ’ ~ ~ life of northern Norway, especially from Literary historians who have analyzed the province of NordIand7 also Play an im- Hamsun’s contradictory qualities usually portant part in the writings of Knut Ham- sun. This is particularly true of the series interpret him in the light of the types that which centers around Segelfos Town and appear in his novels and plays. Laymen, the trilogy in which August, the wanderer, on the other hand, are more inclined to is the leading idioms of the seek explanations for his actions and opin- north profoundly colored ~~~~~~3~ re. ions in his social background and his ex- markable and highly personalized style of periences in early life. NO modern author writing. But for all his numerous contacts of Hamsun’s standing has undergone so with and his admiration of arctic Norway, many vicissitudes as he did in childhood, Hamsun never became a true son of the’ 168 Spring 1965 north, “en Nordending.” Neither in the ucation that ever fell to his lot. Here he Segelfos nor in the August novels does he also benefited by his association with the show love and understanding of the native children of the local rector. people of that region. Nor has he a real Whether to escape the uncle’s tyranny appreciation of their struggles and achieve- or because he still felt himself to be a ments. stranger in the parish of Hamaroy, Knut The fact is that both the bitterness and Pedersen (as he was then named)I8 secured dislike of the common people which be- assistance from an uncle in Gudbrandsdal, came so evident in the closing decades of and at the age of fourteen went there for the author’s life, and the haunting sense his confirmation. of inferiority which pursued him through But a year later he was back in Hama- all his years originated in his early expe- roy. According to the custom of this north- rience. His father was a tailor, an occupa- e m area in those days, the age of fifteen tion which for some unknown reason was marked the date of transition from child- considered ludicrous by the fishermen and hood to early manhood. That was the year farmers of northern Norway. Young Knut when a lad would go for the first time as a doubtless heard the derogatory ditty which half-share fisherman to Lofoten. At sixteen was often chanted in that re,’ uion : he was reckoned a full-fledged fisherman and received his full share. But young Fifteen tailors weigh a pound Knut did not conform to the customs of With their needle the region. Between fifteen and twenty he And their thread, served as a shoemaker’s apprentice, clerk And their iron thrown in. in a country store, pack peddler, bailips deputy, and itinerant school teacher. Moreover, his family circle which included None of these occupations advanced him parents, uncles, and grandparents neither economically or socially, but he learned mixed with the local inhabitants nor par- about the people, their racy unaffected ticipated in the major occupations of the language, and life in general. He also area-fishing and seafaring. In HamarSy, found time to read widely, and decided as in other places in the north where a he would become an author. Although the considerable number of migrants had novelettes which he published in these come in the 1860’s from Gudbrandsdal, years failed to attract attention,17 Knut the newcomers remained mere landlub- Pedersen was unshaken in his belief that bers. In self-defense the Hamsun clan eventually success would come his way. drew close together, became a self-con- The personality and aplomb of the twenty- tained group, and tried to bolster their year-old youth so impressed a maecenas ego with the notion that they were socially of the north, E. B. Kjerschow Zahl of superior to their neighbors. Kjerringoy, that this wealthy merchant At the age of nine Knut was “farmed gave the aspiring poet a thousand crowns, out’’ to his mother’s brother, financially a large sum in those days. Hamsun, thus the most successful member of the family. assured of the needed leisure, retired to a This uncle, who was the local postmaster, quiet place in western Norway to write a farmed a part of the extensive glebe be- longing to the parish of Hamaroy. He was novel. a tyrant who exploited Knut mercilessly, His work finished, the young author fed him scantily, and beat him often. But took the manuscript to the most famous here Hamsun received the only formal ed- publishing firm in Scandinavia, Gyldendal Modern Age 169 in Copenhagen, who rejected it. Still un- nomically that their only important intellec- daunted, Knut sought the advice of his tual efforts were related to the church and great hero, Bjornstjerne Bjomson. Again theology. Most were Lutherans to whom discouragement. Bjornson suggested that Unitarianism was distasteful. The literary the handsome and personable young man group with which Hamsun associated was might try his luck on the stage. Although neither representative of the bulk of Nor- not really interested in the theater he took wegian-Americans nor was it well assimi- a brief drama course only to experience lated with American cultural life.20 another failure. This period in Oslo (then After four years in the United States called Kristiania) subjected him to the Knut Hamsun decided that the New World soul-searing trials which Hamsun later im- did not offer him the needed opportunity. mortalized in his first successful novel, In 1888, following a decade of frustration, Hunger.ls he made another assault on the Scandina- These frustrations might have crushed vian cultural citadel of Copenhagen. Here many aspiring writers, but the future No- he finally met with success. The gifted Ed- bel prize winner was not an ordinary per- ward Brandes, brother of Georg Brandes son. To keep body and soul together Knut then the Iiterary arbiter of the North, read Pedersen finally took employment as a Hamsun’s manuscript of Hunger and told roadbuilder. He thus became a navvy the author, “You have a great future!”21 (slusk) which is the lowest of the IOW Soon sections of the novel appeared se- among Norwegian manual 1ab0rers.l~ rially in a Danish magazine, N y Jord. It Knut Pedersen then decided, like thou- was an instant success. Reviewers in Co- sands of others at the time, to try his luck penhagen and Kristiania vied with one an- ‘in America. Though he never intended to other in hailing its anonymous author as become an American, he hoped to win a a writer of genius. In the spring of 1890 place as a man of letters among the grow- Hunger appeared in book form, and it was ing Norwegian population in the United then revealed that the author was Knut States. Again he failed. During his two HamsunT2 sojourns in America, 1882-1884, and 1886- His name had first become known a 1888, he clerked in a small town store, year earlier when his book on intellectual worked in a lumberyard, labored as a har- life in America (Fra det Moderne Amer- vest hand on a North Dakota farm, was a ikas Aandsliv) was published. It was a bit- streetcar conductor in Chicago, served as ter satirical arraignment of the culture of secretary to Kristofer Janson, a Norwe- that vast country. Years later Hamsun ad- gian Unitarian minister in Minneapolis, mitted that “I as a common laborer never and held sundry other odd jobs. It was in had a glimpse of the world of the [Amer- Minneapolis that Pedersen adopted Ham- ican] upper c l a s s e ~ . But~in 1889 this lack ~’ ~ sun as his name. There he found a congen- of knowledge did not prevent the thirty- ial literary coterie none of whom, however, year-old author from ridiculing and writ- enjoyed much distinction. ing pontifically about a subject quite un- Small in number and tom by factions, known to him. the Norwegian element in the United The reasons for Hamsun’s rashness may States did not develop any significant lit- be considered from several angles. At the erary movement. The vast majority of the time when Hamsun was in the United immigrants from Norway were so fully OC- States, Scandinavian immigrants were of- cupied trying to establish themselves eco- ten treated with condescension and even 170 Spring 1965 derision by the “Yankees” (Americans of He was always sensitive on points touching colonial stock) . Terms like “Scandihoo- his fame, so this slowness intensified his vians” and Norwegian or Swedish “square- dislike of the English-speaking countries. heads” were commonly used in the Middle His anglophobia made him sympathetic to- West. These expressions naturally aroused ward the idea of a greater Germany wheth- keen resentment and later influenced Ham- er that of Emperor William I1 or of Adolf sun when he sought to portray American Hitler. culture. Furthermore, because the 1880’s Fame did not alter Hamsun’s habit of witnessed a period of very heavy Norwe- attacking the great men of his day. On the gian emigration to the United States, peo- contrary he enlarged his sphere to include ple in Norway were concerned over the ef- men in fields where his competence to fects of “the America fever” upon their judge was nil. W. E. Gladstone, the Eng- country. They welcomed efforts to deni- lish Liberal leader who was described by grate a land which drew off tens of thou- his political opponent, Lord Salisbury, as << sands of Norway’s young men and women. possessing the most brilliant intellect ever They accepted without question the opin- devoted to the State since Parliamentary ion that although “America was well ad- Government began” was labeled by Ham- vanced technologically [she] was quite be- sun “the century’s greatest cow.”z6 Ham- To hindhand ~ u l t u r a l l y . ” ~ ~ have this im- sun extended his warfare even to the pression confirmed by one who presuma- Deity. The play, Vendt the Monk (1902), bly knew America and who wrote wittily lashes out against the Almighty for His and persuasively about that country was enslavement of mankind, and for man’s pleasing not only to Norwegians but to misery and degradation. many other Scandinavians as well. The book In his forties Hamsun extolled the was both praised and criticized, but wheth- young. “Honor youth” was then one of his er lauded or attacked, it gained for the au- favorite slogans?‘ He described fifty as a thor his main objective-publicity. And climacteric beyond which man’s judgment with the publication of Hunger Hamsun’s and creative power gradually waned. But many years of compulsive writing at last after Hamsun himself had passed the fate- bore real fruit. Victory had come through ful half-century mark, this axiom was for- endurance. gotten. And, indeed, he provided a devas- But the financial returns on his books tating refutation of the theory by publish- were small. Years of practice in Norway ing his greatest novel, Growth of the Soil, and in America had given Hamsun an ex- when he was fifty-eight. cellent technique as a public speaker. Lec- Throughout his adult life anglophobia ture tours proved profitable now, and since was one of Hamsun’s obsessions. Among he attacked such literary giants as Ibsen the evidences of British misdeeds which and Tolstoy, the lectures also brought him he steadfastly cherished were the British prominently before the p ~ b l i c . ~ 5 bombardment of Copenhagen, 1807, the By the end of the 1890’s Hamsun ranked blockade of Norway, 1807-1814, and the among the foremost of the younger Scan- so-called Bodo Affair, 1818-1820. Ham- dinavian authors, and he had been discov- sun knew by heart and often recited Ibsen’s ered by the outside world as well, especial- poem, Terje Viken, which relates the story ly by Germany and Russia. The slowness of the capture of a Norwegian pilot as he with which America and Britain afforded sought to break through the British block- Hamsun recognition rankled in his mind. ade and bring food from Denmark for his Modern Age 171 starving family, The Bodo Affair was an Hamaroy. The changes were not to his unsavory story about British smuggling liking. Hamsun, the successful author who activities in northern Norway, the arrest years earlier had been a mere proletarian, of the smugglers and their breaking out admired the local aristocracy which had of the Bodo jail, their flight to England, bccn prominent in his youth. In Segelfos and their securing by false testimony the Town it is the newly-rich Theodore and aid of the British government to collect a the bishop who had risen from the ranks heavy indemnity for alleged injuries.28The of the common man of whom Hamsun is recollection of this episode was green in most scornful. As the twentieth century the mind of many at the time Hamsun was advanced he found the new democratic de. a shoemaker’s apprentice at Bodo, and it velopments and the prevailing climate of was later used in the debates over a sep- opinion more and more distasteful. I n his arate Norwegian foreign service which greatest novel he preached that industrial- brought about the dissolution of the Nor- ization was an evil, and that people should wegian-Swedish union, debates in which go “back to the soil.” Near the town of Hamsun took an active part. Grimstad in southern Norway he strove His stay in America strengthened the to develop a landed estate. He was especial- author’s antipathy toward Britain. In the ly distressed by what he conceived to be 1880’s dislike of that country was wide- the spread of indiscipline. The desire to re- spread in the United States. Moreover, in verse the tendency was one factor in his Minnesota where the majority of the support of Nazi ideology. “Yankees” were of English descent, their But basically the most potent element in disdain of Scandinavians caused the of- persuading Hamsun to accept Hitler’s fended immigrants, by some curious in- nihilistic doctrines was his deep-seated version of reasoning, to be hostile to Eng- feeling of inadequacy which his success as land, the ancestral home of the Yankees. an author never dispelled. Jealous through- During the Anglo-Boer war (1899- out his life of those who had obtained aca- 1902) Norwegian sympathy-shared by demic training, he was especially bitter to- Hamsun-was with the Boers. Though he ward teachers educated in the state nor- had fewer Norwegian supporters, he was mal schools.30 even more violently anti-British during In common with many people in Ger- World War I. Viewing the extent of the many and elsewhere who were disturbed British Empire he compared it with “a rat by feelings of their own inferiority, Knut sitting on the bacon.” Germany, on the Hamsun sought refuge in racist theories other hand, was to him a tree rich with which emphasized the special virtues of. luscious fruit. It is therefore not surpris- their own racial group. With enthusiasm ing that he considered the Versailles he embraced the cult of pan-Germanism. Treaty a crime and a disgrace to human- The incomprehensible blather of Alfred. it~.2~ Rosenberg about the superior qualities of In addition to Hamsun’s hostility toward the Germans, Hamsun accepted as scientific the happenings in world affairs, develop- fact, and he believed firmly that by close ments in his own country also created in association with the Germans, Norwegian his mind a deep animosity to events and culture and intellectual life would be much ideas. The province of Nordland under- benefited. All this led him to welcome the went a rapid transformation in 1911-1917, German occupation of Norway. years when Hamsun was a landowner in During World War I1 the anglophobia I72 Spring 1965 of Knut Hamsun reached its height. In happen to the myth Hamsun invented? 1941 he wrote to his daughter, Cecilia: One last point should however not be “Next year the war will be over and light forgotten. Famous men of literature have will dominate everywhere. This will be a often been far off the beam when they joy! England will be crushed, and then sought to guide their compatriots in the my soul will rejoice. Europe will be prop- fields of politics and statesmanship. Wit- erly organized-my God, how welcome ness the Britons Carlyle, Swinburne, and this will be!’’31 Tennyson. Goethe, the greatest among To his distress it was Germany, not German writers, “welcomed the genius Britain, which was crushed. Knut Hamsun and saluted the conquests of Napoleon,” was called to account for what he had said regarded by others as the arch enemy of and written while his country was under his country. And of the Holy Alliance German domination. He was tried for trea- Goethe said that “nothing greater or more son, and it was then that an unrepentant useful for mankind has been in~ented.”~’ Hamsun sought to create a myth about But these fatuous remarks have long been himself in his autobiographical memoir, ignored in the assessment of the famous Paa Cjengrodde Stier. In this he had a German author. famous if not quite parallel precedent. Napoleon I had done the same thing while Something of the same kind may happen a prisoner at St. Helena. A generation af- in Knut Hamsun’s case-his political va- ter his death millions of Frenchmen ac- garies overlooked, the novels and poems of cepted the Napoleonic legend as histori- a truly creative author, “a giant among cal fact. Will something of the same kind men,” remembered. ’Sigurd Hoel, “ b u t Hamsun,” in Yinduet, VI, *‘The London Times Literary Supplement, April 1952, p. 33. 14, 1950. ’Quoted, ibid., p. 34. Sbid., Feb. 10, 1921. ‘Christian Gierloff, Knut Hamsun’s Egen Rost “Tore Hamsun, Knut Hamsun (Oslo, 19591, pas- (Oslo, 1961), p. 115. sim. I n 1947 when Knut Hamsun’s wife was inter- ‘Ibid. In his letter Hamsun asserts that Hitler viewed about her husband, Hamsun was so angered was the father of Mrs. Goebbels‘ sixth child, a boy. that she had talked with the psychiatrists about him 6Hamsun called Quisling a man of integrity, that he broke off all relations with her for three “The character trait Knut valued the most, whether years. Marie Hamsun, pp. 81-82, 109-11. in man or woman.” Marie Hamsun, Under Gullreg- ‘“bid., pp. 5-6. nen (Oslo, 1959), p. 64. See also Sverre Hartman, ”The childhood and youth of the writer of this “Quislings Konferanse med den Tyske Overkom- paper were spent near Bodo in Nordland. He knew mando,” in Samtiden, LVI, 1956, pp. 317-23. well the shop where Hamsun served as a shoemak- T h e validity of this point is questionable be- er’s apprentice and the hotel where in 1915 he cause Knut Hamsun was not a “joiner.” He even wrote Segelfos Town. Both shop and hotel were refused to be a member of the society of Norwegian destroyed by the Germans in 1940. For pictures of authors. Gierloff, p. 81. them see Einar Skavl’an, Knut Hamsun, 2nd e d ’Gierlijff, p. 141. (Oslo, 1934), pp. 40-41, 249. Emigrating to the ‘Quoted, New York Times, June 26, 1948. United States in 1906 the writer met some of Ham- ’Gierloff, 13338. For a defense of the psychia- sun’s American friends. He also learned about the trists’ reports see Gabriel Langfeldt, “Dommen over attitude of Yankees toward Scandinavian immi- Knut Hamsun,” in Vinduet, VI, 1952, pp. 175-77. grants in the 1880’s. The writer’s father, horn in Modern Age 173 1832, was thoroughly familiar with conditions in z3Knut Hamsun, Artikler, selected by Francis Nordland in Hamsun's youth and with the views Bull (Oslo, 1939), p. 226. In 1929 he repudiated the on migrants from Gudbrandsdal. opinions on America presented in his first book. IS For original see Skavlan, p. 201. The isle is Ibid., pp. 222-27. douhtless "Utrost" (Outer Rbst), a blessed island T h r . Collins in introduction to H. Tambs traditionally located somewhere near the western- Lyche, Lysstreif over Livsproblcmer (Kristiania, . . . most of the Lofoten island chain. 19031, p. x. 'sHamsun's father was Peder Pedersen. The nov- B "Sten Sparre Nilson, ''Hamstin P Turn6 og i elist vas known successively as Knut Pedersen, h u t Pederson, Knut I-Iamsund, and finally Knut Ham- __ Paris." in Sumtiden. LXM, 1960. DD. 533-38. "Quoted, Gierloff, p. 43. I sun. Hamsund was the name of the parental farm "Knut Hamsun, Artikler, pp. 72-109. in Hamaroy. =Gierloff, pp. 35, 52; Tore Hamsun, p. 120. "Skavlan, pp. 41-55. '8Marie Hamsun, pp. 3435. "Ibid., pp. 61-65. The novel, Frida, was never "Arild Haaland, "Knut Hamsun," in Humsun published. og Hoe1 (Bergen, 1957), p. 49. A Norwegian train- ''Ibid., pp. 68-78. ing school for teachers is called seminarium, and "For Hamsun in America see ibid., pp. 79-106; its graduates seminarister. Even in old age H m u asn Ramus B. Anderson, Life Story (Madison, W s i- raved against them saying "A seminarist is 8 consin, 19151, pp. 30410; Carl G. 0. Hansen, My swine" (En seminarist er et svin). Quoted, Gier- Minneapolis (Minneapolis, 1956), pp. 99-109; and Kristofer Janson, Htiad Jeg Har Oplevet (&isti- loff, p. 17. ania. 19131, pp. 219-26. "Quoted, Marie Hamsun, p. 35. "Skavlan, p. 108. "Quoted, H. A. L. Fisher, A History of Europe 9bid., pp. 109-12. (Boston, 1939), p. 901. 174 Spring 1965
"Knut Hamsun Triumph and Tragedy"