Published in 1890 "Hunger" or "Sult" as it is called in Norway, is a semi-autobiographical novel. It tells the story of a starving young writer who is sometimes delusional. Written with a continual stream of consciousness inner monolog, "Hunger" has been translated into English several times. The book begins after the … [Read more...] about Hunger
Born in 1859 in Lom, Gudbrandsdalen, Norway, Knut Hamsun believed writers should write about the human mind. He wrote psychological works that included running inner monolog. Hamsun wrote plays, poetry, essays, short stories, over twenty novels, and a travelogue. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920 for Growth of the Soil.
At the age of nine Hamsun was sent to live with his uncle and apprentice in the post office. There he was often beaten and starved. This led to a life-long chronic nervous difficulties. Finally, at fifteen he escaped back to Lom, where he was born. There he took many odd jobs. He worked at a clerk, a sheriff's assistant and taught school, to name a few.
At seventeen he began to write. He traveled extensively, including America. During World War II Hamsun supported the Nazi party. He often met with high-ranking German officials, including Hitler. He wrote the obituary for Hitler praising him. He was tried for treason and given a fine. Because of his advanced age, he was sent to a hospital instead of jail while awaiting his trial. He still maintained his belief in the Nazi party. This did not make him unpopular among the Norwegians as they worked to ignore his Nazi beliefs and praise him as a literary giant.
Many of Hamsun's novels involved the narrator arriving at a place and insinuating himself in. Then he begins a detailed inner monolog that makes observations about the people around him. His writing style influenced such writers as Kafka, Hemingway, and Mann.
Hamsun married his first wife, Bergljot and they had one daughter. After their divorce in 1906, he married Marie Anderson, who he stayed with until his death. They had four children.
Politically Hamsun was extremely conservative. He was also extremely racist. During World War II he wrote many articles praising the Nazi party. He even sent his Nobel Peace Prize to Joseph Goebbels, the minister of propaganda in Germany. When he is allowed to meet with Hitler, Hamsun spends the time complaining about the civilian administrator Germany sent to Norway and insisting Hitler release Norwegian prisoners. It took three days to get over his anger.
After the war, some of his books were burned by angry crowds, and he was hospitalized in a mental institution. The charges for treason were dropped because of his impaired mental faculties.
In 1978 Thorkild Hansen wrote, "The Hamsun Trial" that investigated the trial. He said that he thought Norway's treatment of Hamsun was outrageous. Then in 1996, a movie was made about Hamsun's life. Hamsun died in 1952 at the age of 92. His family buried his ashes in the garden of his home in Norholm.
His books include "Mysteries" in 1892, "In Wonderland," in 1903, "Wayfarers" in 1927, and "On Overgrown Paths" in 1949. His writing spans over seventy years. Since 1916 much of his work has been used in television and movies. There have been over twenty-five movies and mini-series.