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Knut Pedersen Hamsun

Awards: Nobel Prize in Literature-1920

Nobel Committee in its citation stated that the prize was given  "for his monumental work 'Growth of the Soil'  "

Born: 04/08/1859 in Lom, Gudbrandsdalen, Norway

Died: 19/02/1952  near Crimstad, Norway

Citizen: Norway

Language: Nynorsk ( Norwegian)

Influence: Hamsun is considered as one of the most influential & innovative literary stylists during the period 1890-1990. He was a novelist, dramatist and poet. He influenced writers such as Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, Maxim Gorky, Herman Hesse and Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway stated that " Hamsun taught me to write". Many of his works have been adopted to motion pictures.

   Hamsun objected to realism and naturalism. The main goal of a writer should be to explore the intricacies of human mind and behaviour in what he called whisper of the blood and pleadings of the bone marrow. He initiated the technique of stream of consciousness & interior monologue, use of flashbacks, fragmentation & lyricism in literature and took writing to a new level of absorption by the readers.

   Hamsun was born in a poor family  and at the age of nine, was separated from his parents to live with his uncle who needed him for his work. Life was very difficult as apart from strenuous work, the uncle used to beat and starve him which led to later day nervous problems.

   At the age of 17, he became apprentice to a rope maker. At this period, he also took to writing. One business man  Erasmus Zahl financially helped him and this was instrumental in advancing his literary aspirations. In his novels, Pan & Dreamer, Zahl appears in the shape of character Mack.

  He Published his first book about it: Den Gaadefulde: En Kjærlighedshistorie fra Nordland (The Enigmatic Man: A Love Story from Northern Norway, 1877) followed by his  second novel Bjørger (1878).During his life time, he has written more than 20 novels, collection of poems & several essays.

Landmark:  During World War II, Hamsun supported German war-effort on several occasions and met Hitler. In 1940 he wrote that "the Germans are fighting for us". After Hitler's death, he published a short obituary in which he described him as "a preacher of the gospel of justice for all nations."
He was detained by police on June 14, 1945, for the commission of acts of treason, and was committed to a hospital in Grimstad (Grimstad sykehus) "due to his advanced age", according to Einar Kringlen (a professor and M.D.) In 1947 he was tried in Grimstad, and fined Norway's supreme court reduced from Norwegian kroner 575 000 to 325 000.

* Thomas Mann described him "as a descendant of Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Friedrich Nietzsche". Arthur Koestler was a fan of his love stories. H. G. Wells praised Markens Grøde (1917) for which Hamsun was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Notable Works: Sult--Hunger(1890), Mysterier - Mysteries  (1892), Ny Jord - Shallow Soil  (1893), Pan - Pan(1894), I Æventyrland. Oplevet og drømt i Kaukasien- In Wonderland(1903), Markens Grøde 1-- Growth of the Soil (1917), Konerne ved Vandposten I-- The Women at the Pump (1920), Landstrykere I-- Wayfarers (1927), Det vilde Kor (Poems)-- The Wild Choir (1904)

Knut Hamsun

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