There are those who would hold that the name of Knut Hamsun should appear prominently on any list of "great Norwegians"-- for he was a Norwegian, and his literary works reflected genius and artistry. 

It is true that he brought credit to his homeland in 1920 when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature (for "The Growth of the Soil" penned in 1917). But it is also true that as years went on, he became devoted to the cause of the Nazis, and made a gift of his Nobel Prize Medal to Hitler lieutenant Joseph Goebbels.

When the Nazis barged into Norway, establishing a puppet government, nearly every Norwegian reviled at the occupation and discerned clearly the evil in the cause of the occupiers. Hamsun welcomed the invading troops. At the war's end, Hamsun, once a hero to Norway, was convicted in connection with his pro-Nazi activities and heavily fined -- being spared imprisonment undoubtedly in deference to his literary contributions and age.

While the works of Hamsun may be entitled to reverence for their greatness, can the man truly be hailed for greatness in light of the inhumanity in the extreme of the cause he aided? Can the term "greatness" be extend to one who sympathized with a political force which stood for barbarism, oppression and hate?

To give the devil his due, if the devil played the violin with a high degree of proficiency, his musical talents should not be denied -- but a recognition of those particular talents would hardly warrant application to the devil of laudatory characterizations not strictly confined to his violin-playing.

Hamsun hardly remains a hero to Norway. While there is currently a resurgence of interest in his works, many in Norway have not forgiven him. Our view is that this should not be a one-or-the-other proposition. There should be an interest in his works; there should not be forgiveness of the man. Whatever the politics of the man, the works must stand on their own. In judging the man, however, the mere passage of time cannot remove the wrongfulness from the conduct he either overlooked or endorsed -- conduct constituting the most broadbased iniquity in the history of our planet.  

Hamsun is here acknowledged because he was one of three Norwegians to win the Nobel Prize for literature. He is here acknowledged for sake of giving the devil his due.
 



Knut Pedersen Hamsun
Biography from The Nobel Foundation of the 1920 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. The site includes his acceptance speech.
 
Knut Hamsun -- in the Service of Words
From the Odin website. The article by Lars Frode Larsen whitewashes Hamsun's  pro-Nazi sentiments, stating, "Hamsun, who had been friendly disposed towards Germany since the days of the Empire, through the First World War and the Weimar Republic, adhered to his pro-German sympathies."
 
A Half Hamsun
The culture editor at the newspaper Dagbladet, Inger Bentzrud, poses the question with respect to Hamsun: "Can we ever forgive his betrayal?" Her response is worth reading.

Knut Hamsun Link Page
Comprehensive listing of resources, on the web and in printed form, in English and other languages, on Hamsun.
 
Nordland: a Knut Hamsun Research Page
Webmaster Bill Winter characterizes Hamsun as "novelist of genius, radical individualist, supporter of Hitler, Quisling, and the Nazi occupation of Norway during World War II." Includes links.
 
Nobelist -- Nazi-Enigma
Columnist J. Peder Zane's assessment of Hamsun in the News and Observer, Raleigh, North Carolina.
 
Knut Hamsun and the Cause of Europe
Article from the National Vanguard Magazine, August-September, 1996.
 
Knut Hamsun and Nazism
Atle Kittang offers an insightful look at the enigmatic Hamsun. "A straightforward explanation for Knut Hamsunís pro-Nazi involvement cannot be found," he concludes.
 
Knut Hamsun -- Debated Once Again
Erland Hansen discusses "[a] new film by the Swedish director Jan Troell [which] casts new light on Hamsun's enigmatic mind."



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