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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
from The Nobel Foundation of the 1920 winner of the Nobel Prize
in Literature. The site includes his acceptance
Hamsun -- in the Service of Words
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."
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.
Hamsun Link Page
listing of resources, on the web and in printed form, in English
and other languages, on Hamsun.
a Knut Hamsun Research Page
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
J. Peder Zane's assessment of Hamsun in the News and Observer,
Raleigh, North Carolina.
Hamsun and the Cause of Europe
from the National Vanguard Magazine, August-September,
Hamsun and Nazism
Kittang offers an insightful look at the enigmatic Hamsun. "A
straightforward explanation for Knut Hamsunís pro-Nazi involvement
cannot be found," he concludes.
Hamsun -- Debated Once Again
Hansen discusses "[a] new film by the Swedish director
Jan Troell [which] casts new light on Hamsun's enigmatic mind."
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