Knut Hamsun: Short biography.Knut Hamsun is the pseudonym of Knut Pedersen (born August 4, 1859, Lom, Norway, died February 19, 1952, near Grimstad). Knut Hamsun was a great Norwegian novelist, dramatist, poet, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920 for his wonderful book Growth of the Soil.
Knut Hamsun was viewed by many as a leader of the Neo-romantic revolt in literature at the turn of the century, to a large extent because of Hunger (Sult, 1890), his first serious publication, and some claim that Hamsun rescued the novel from a tendency toward excessive naturalism. Hunger (see review) tells the story of a starving young writer in Norway. Hunger marked a clear departure from the social realism of the typical Norwegian novel of this period. Its refreshing viewpoint and impulsive, lyrical style had an electrifying effect on European writers. Knut Hamsun followed his first success with a series of lectures that revealed his obsession with August Strindberg, and where he attacked such idols as Henrik Ibsen and Leo Tolstoy. Knut Hamsun was a productive writer, and produced a flow of works that continued until his death.
More online materials about Knut Hamsun:See this excellent New Yorker article about Knut Hamsun. Also, an article from London Review Bookshop about Hamsun. As well, there are lots of materials on the Knut Hamsun web site. And this is an article on Knut Hamsun's political views. Finally, the official Nobel Laureates' Knut Hamsun-page.
Knut Hamsun, who was of peasant origin, grew up in poverty, and spent most of his childhood in the remote Lofoten Islands in the Northern parts of Norway. He had almost no formal education. Hamsun started to write at age 19, when he was a shoemaker's apprentice in Bodø, a town in Northern Norway.
During the next 10 years, Knut Hamsun worked more or less as a casual laborer. Twice Hamsun visited the United States, where he held mostly menial jobs in Chicago, North Dakota, and in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
In 1898, Knut Hamsun married Bergljot Goepfert, but this marriage ended in 1906. Hamsun then married the promising young actress Marie Andersen (b. 1881) in 1909. Marie Hamsun became his lifelong companion. (She later wrote about their life together in her two biographical books about their life.) Marie Hamsun ended her career and traveled with Hamsun to Hamarøy, where Knut Hamsun was born. They bought a farm, the idea being "to earn their living as farmers, with his writing providing some additional income".
However, after only a few years, Marie and Knut Hamsun decided to move south, to Larvik. In 1918, the couple bought Nørholm, an old and somewhat dilapidated manor house between Lillesand and Grimstad. The main residence was restored and redecorated. Here Hamsun could occupy himself with his writing undisturbed, even though he often traveled to write in other cities and places (preferably in spartan housing).
Knut Hamsun collaborated with the Nazis during WW-II, and was fined NKR 325.000 for it after the war. Tragically, this collaboration also seriously damaged Hamsun's reputation, both in Norway and internationally. However, after his death critical interest in Hamsun's works was renewed and new translations once more made his books accessible to an international readership.
Knut Hamsun died in his home at Nørholm, aged 92. Regardless of his political affiliations, Hamsun clearly is one of the greatests and most interesting writers of all time, and deserves considerable attention from lovers of great literature.
Knut Hamsun: Biographies and other materials
Baumgartner, Walter: Knut Hamsun.
Ernest Hemingway, Knut Hamsun, Hermann Hesse (Nobel Prize Library) (Hardcover - 1971)
The Effects of Knut Hamsun on a Fresno Boy: Recollections and Short Essays by Gary Soto (Paperback - Jan 2001) In The Effects of Knut Hamsun on a Fresno Boy you will find writing that is sad, funny and sadly funny. It contains insights that are both personal and universal. An interesting and personal book.
Josef. Wiehr: Knut Hamsun, his personality and his outlook upon life, . (Hardcover - Jan 1922)
Knut Hamsun: Selected Letters, Vol. I: 1879-1898 (Norvik Press) Series A: Scandinavian Literary History and Criticism) by Knut Hamsun (Paperback - 1 Mar 1990)
Neues Zu Knut Hamsun (Hardcover - Dec 2002)