Talk:Knut Hamsun

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old comment[edit]

I wrote about the Danish author Thorkild Hansen's view on Hamsun, since the trial against Hamsun deservers investigations. After all Hamsun was 80 years old, when the 2nd World War started - and Hansen stated, that he probably didn't like the Nazis much, rather he was suspicious of the English (Hamsun remembered the Boer War in South Africa and was opposed to the world dominance of Great Britain). And he had a lot of other good reasons, but generally Hansen found some devastating facts on the treatment of this old man - who was not senile or had any mental defects. So altogether I would recommend, that the article of Hamsum gets the label: {controversial} on it - since the Norwegians probably still hasn't recognized what went on just after the war. --Hansjorn 12:35, Nov 2, 2004 (UTC)

It's all pretty good described in his last book 'On overgrown paths.'-- 21:58, 17 August 2007 (UTC)

How much of a Nazi was he exactly[edit]

Is there any information available regarding his views on race? How much of an antisemite was he? Did he actually buy into the whole Aryan philosophy?

He was not a member of the Norwegian Nazi (Fascist) party (there's a photo showing him wearing a NS pin, but this is probably a fake), though members of his family was. He was always pro-German and anti-British, and expressed admiration for Hitler. He also expressed anti-Semit (and anti-Sami) views. Anti-Semitism and other kinds of racism was widespread before WW II. Hitler was admired by some conservatives. So the answer might be: He was not a Nazi - but like many other conservatives of the time, he had some Nazi sympathies. Unlike most others, however, he did not revert to Norwegian patriotism when Germany occupied Norway, but stick to his old views. —Preceding (talk) 06:27, 24 March 2009 (UTC) He may not have been a member of the Nasjonal Samling, but he did write what Goebbels calls "an exceptionally favourable appeal" for the pages of that organisation's journal, Fritt Folk. And on other occasions he contributed articles attacking leaders in the democracies. The Nazis certainly looked on him as an unconditional supporter. goebbels wrote in his diary on 19 may 1943 "his faith in German victory is unshakable."

unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:23, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

The politicization of the wiki is garbage. Everybody needs to read "On Overgrown Paths", where Hamsun speaks for himself about the whole nazi episode. There are no sources for his "vehement" advocacy of the nazis. The nazis were lunatics and had a revolutionary propaganda machine, yet somehow everybody takes it at face value that Hamsun unequivocally and "vehemently" supported them. Does it occur to anybody that it was a myth or self-delusion perpetuated by the nazis? To this day, white supremacists want to claim Knut Hamsun, as an asset, just like the nazis did. Rather than being an enthusiastic supporter, Hamsun simply did what he could to stop his fellow Norwegians from getting crushed by an occupation. He explains what his life was like during occupation, when parents were constantly petitioning him to help release their son(s) who were condemned to prison or execution. He was not a member of the nazi party, although he was fined for exactly that crime, and he denied it. Can you really read a Knut Hamsun book and still think he would lie about something like that? The idea of the "Nazi Hamsun" is purely the product of nazi propaganda and also the reactionary fervor of Norwegians after the war. Doesn't anyone find it strange that naziism and racism do not figure into any of his books? (talk) 01:45, 6 November 2010 (UTC)

Yes he did everything to "stop it". He thought he had a God-given capacity to talk reason with Adolf Hitler. I seem to think that Adolf thought "why am I so highly admired by this crybaby?". Come to think of it, Nasjonal Samling consisted of people we today would call emos. Twice as many Norwegian Nazis chose to stay out of it, just because Quisling was a wimp. Hamsun must have been unaware of it all. --Stat-ist-ikk (talk) 13:39, 15 December 2011 (UTC)

About the controversial label[edit]

Although Hamsun himself is a controversial figure, history-wise, I doubt that the article deserves this label... I find it objective enough now as it is, as both views are presented. However, I guess the article would turn out better if "injected" more information about this, preferably in it's own section on the page... NuclearFunk please cite your sources! NuclearFunk 12:13, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

About the structuring[edit]

Ok, I inserted some more info about his life, and I placed his writing career under the headline "Work". My purpose for this structuring is to make the article more easy to browse, and also more easy to contribute to... If anyone disagrees, or spots anything obviously questionable, please say so :)NuclearFunk 21:34, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)


Please see the above page, where it seems that a fake Iago Dali (or more than one) has been trying to frame me for bad edits. The above admin has said that he will ban the imposter, so I will re-edit the piece more tightly, as I did. Iago Dali 19:25, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Process should be trial?[edit]

Should the Hansen book "The Process againt Hamsun" be called perhaps "The Trial of Hamsun"? I know nothing of the book, but "The Process against Hamsun" strikes me as awkward, and possibly a mistranslation. 14:38, 9 December 2005 (UTC)Dermot

You're absolutely right. 'The Hamsun Trial' is probably the best translation. Asav 22:09, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
In German, the word for "trial" is "prozess." That may account for bad translation. 07:57, 18 September 2006 (UTC) Allen Roth


No, it should be translated as The Trail of Hamsun , the book in its entirety is about how he was treated before, after and during the trial (Langfeldt etc) - ERGO: The book is not about Hamsun's trial, hence the title.


Could someone with knowledge of Norwegian tell us the correct way to pronounce his name?


Im norwegian and the propper way to pronounce his name is Hahmmsoon, or at least it's close ;)

- Hamsun = Ham - Haaaam ...sun = Tsun (tsunami) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Glahn (talkcontribs) 21:09, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Another pile of resources[edit] Shall we include it?

An observation[edit]

The fact that this article basically functions as a mouthpiece for those who disagree with Hamsun's politics is a disgrace. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:31, 17 December 2007 (UTC) (talk) 06:31, 24 March 2009 (UTC) I don't understand what that claim means. are you saying that you agree with his views and the article has too much criticism? That he did not hold the views people attribute to him? ( Goebbels in his Diaries is clear that Hamsun was a total supporter of Nazi Germany.) Or are you saying that the piece should have more about his books and just ignore his politics?

Nobel Committe[edit]

It was not the Nobel Committee that gave Hamsun the Nobel Prize. The Committee (appointed by the Norwegian Parliament) is only responsible for the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Prize in literature is awarded by the Swedish Academy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:15, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

Added New Section on Trial and Need for More on His Work[edit]

I have just added a lot of material about the postwar treason trial of Hamsun. From the perspective of historians (as opposed to literary scholars) his wartime actions and the postwar political retribution against Hamsun has been of considerable interest, even more so in Norway where there have been many books published on his case.

I have used the most recent publication on this which summarizes all existing scholarship, evidence on both sides, and adds analysis.

In order to add these sections I deleted some of the existing sentences which did a poorer job of summarizing the postwar events. I also moved a White Supremacist link that I saw in the links section to the bottom (it offers very little new or interesting of note to the article) and added a description so visitors will know what kind of organization stands behind the article.

Finally, I want to add that I think it is a shame that an author of this importance, from a literary standpoint gets so little treatment from a literary perspective. I'm a historian by trade so I can only add what I know about the controversy surrounding his wartime actions and postwar trial, where my own interests lie, but I hope someone will take the time to add more about his literary contributions so the article will not be as heavily weighted to the political and historical issues surrounding his legacy.

--K. M. Lawson (talk) 23:57, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

Undue weight[edit]

I think the war-time and post-war events are currently given undue (or even excessive) weight (more than two thirds of the article deals with these issues). These issues are less important compared to his literary work. Hamsun was not only a Nobel Prize-winning author, but considered by many of his peers and by critics as one of the leading authors of the 20th century, the "father of modern literature". The war-time stuff is really only "important" in Norway (mostly to the elder and more narrow-minded population, though). Major Dahl (talk) 18:33, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

I took the liberty of reverting your dramatic edit; I'm impressed with your wiki-boldness and do NOT want you to take this as a statement that I believe you are wrong in your overall perspective. I'm willing to concede that the apparent repulsion wath a very old man's choice to embrace Nazi views probably it severely reactive; perhaps even indicative of a sense of guilt on the part of some Norwegians who cooperated more with the Germans than they wanted to admit. But:
  • Wikipedia is strongest if it builds material by consensus focused on Wikipedia:neutral point of view achieved by representing facts in a fashion that identifies controversies. We don't pretend controversy does not exist - we discuss it and provide a balanced view.
  • If the material is accurate, referenced, and encyclopedic it should be considered throughtfully before deletion.
  • If the material which is there is not balanced, the focus should be on enhancing the material which is missing. Certainly there is more that can be said about his productive career. For example if Isaac Bashevis Singer to be the "father of modern literature", this is worthy of some discussion - why does a Jewish Nobel Prize-winning author think a Nazi is the "father of modern literature" - if this can be verified (and I note no reference is provided) then this is a fascinating assessment and makes a case for the importance of Hamsun's work.
Make no mistake - I've read many of his works and agree that he is noteworthy. But I'd recommend we showcase his strengths, not simply delete material that we might not agree with.
Please feel free to educate me here and we'll strive together to reach a balanced article.
Skål - Williamborg (Bill) 04:23, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

I don't understand why you reverted my edits. The material on the wartime and postwar events was way out of proportion, even if the other parts of the article had been significantly expanded upon, it would be like using over two thirds of the Michael Jackson article to describe his cosmetic surgery. I feel the current section (mostly the section that used to be in the article) on these issues is more than adequate. Major Dahl (talk) 15:04, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
The particular quote from Singer, which is from 1967: "“The whole school of fiction in the 20th century stems from Hamsun,” Singer wrote in 1967, citing in particular “his subjectiveness, his fragmentariness, his use of flashbacks, his lyricism.”"[1]. Singer translated many works by Hamsun (see Isaac Bashevis Singer). Major Dahl (talk) 15:22, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
I propose that you move the contended text here for discussion and redacting. __meco (talk) 16:16, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

You indicate, "I don't understand why you reverted my edits." I reverted your edits because I agree strongly with a point in Halldór Laxness's novel, Kristnihald undir Jökli or Christianity under the Glacier (published in English as Under the Glacier), where he states, "The difference between a novelist and a historian is this: that the former tells lies deliberately and for the fun of it; the historian tells lies in his simplicity and imagines he is telling the truth." We Wikipedians must ever be open to the possibility that what one "knows to be true" is simply wrong. We must be open and intellectually honest. We must attempt to use the Wikipedia, not as a pulpit for our world-view, but as a method to develop a more rational and less partisan world view. We should not demonize Hamsun - we should not whitewash him either. To put it as Gunnar Sonsteby did, "commemorating Hamsun is acceptable, as long as his literary talent and his dark side receive equal focus."[2].

I very much like the quote of Singer you flagged from the New York Times from 1967: "“The whole school of fiction in the 20th century stems from Hamsun,” Singer wrote in 1967, citing in particular “his subjectiveness, his fragmentariness, his use of flashbacks, his lyricism."[3]. This is the kind of thing which strengthens the article.

It may be that Singer translated many works by Hamsun, but my copies of his works were translated by Worster, Stallybrass, Egerton & Lyngstad. I would dearly love to read a Singer translation but find none on Googlebooks or at Powell's. Yes, I know that the Wikipedia article states this as true and cites the author Stephen Tree "Isaac Bashevis Singer", Munich, p. 88, 2004. But I don't have Tree's work and I've been around Wikipedia long enough to believe that one wants to review references oneself when writing articles.

Following User:Meco's recommendation that we move it here, discuss, and redact, the material which was deleted will be parked here until we reach agreement on disposition. It follows:

"Following a meeting with [[Joseph Goebbels]] in May 1943, he sent Goebbels his Nobel Prize medal as a gift.

"According to [[Bennett Cerf]]'s book ''[[Try and Stop Me (book)|Try and Stop Me]],'' after Hamsun's alliance with the Quislingites became widely known, angry Norwegians sent copies of his books back to his hometown in such numbers that the small post office in the town had to hire temporary workers to assist in handling the volumes of books arriving. However, according to the Wikipedia page on Mr. Cerf, the stories in his books were fictional.

"After [[Adolf Hitler|Hitler]]'s death, Hamsun wrote an [[obituary]] in the leading Norwegian newspaper ''[[Aftenposten]]'', describing him as a "warrior for mankind".<ref>[ Obituary of Adolf Hitler by Knut Hamsun in the Norwegian, Nazi-controlled newspaper ''Aftenposten'' May 7, 1945]</ref> It has been argued that his "sympathies" were those of a country that had been occupied. He sometimes used his status as a man of fame to improve the conditions of his area during the occupation and criticized the number of executions. Still, following the end of the war, angry crowds burned his books in public in major Norwegian cities.

"==Postwar trial for treason==

"Hamsun's wartime pronouncements in support of the German occupation regime could easily have been punishable under existing Norwegian treason laws and wartime ordinances passed in relation to treasonous acts.<ref name="num18">Anine Kierulf and Cato Schiøtz Høyesterett og Knut Hamsun [Knut Hamsun and the Supreme Court] (Gyldendals, 2004), 18</ref> After the conclusion of World War II in May, 1945, Hamsun was initially held under house arrest. Police constable Finn Christensen took a statement from Hamsun on June 20, 1945. In the statement Hamsun denied being politically active or being a member of the fascist [[Nasjonal Samling]] (N.S.) party led by [[Vidkun Quisling]] but was open about his connections with both the party and with the German occupation regime. Hamsun denied in his statement that he was trying to cover up his involvement, indicating that he wished he could have "gone further," to help them, because he believed it had been, "in Norway's best interests" at the time. <ref>ibid., 37</ref>

"Hamsun was then confined for several months in a psychiatric hospital. Following a long period of psychological investigation that tormented the author and weakened him considerably, on February 5, 1946 psychiatrist [[Gabriel Langfeldt]] and head doctor [[Ørnulv Ødegård]] concluded that Hamsun had "lasting weakened mental capacities." <ref>ibid., 40-41. See also Gabriel Langfeldt and Ørnulv Ødegård ''Den rettspsykiatriske erklæring om Knut Hamsun''.</ref> On the basis of this judgement the criminal treason case against Hamsun was dropped.

"===Civil liability trial===

"Instead of a criminal treason trial, a [[civil liability]] case was raised against the author. Hamsun was called to summons May 16, 1946 in response to the accusation that he was a member of Nasjonal Samling. In contrast to an earlier claim in legal documents that Hamsun, "consented to" membership in the party, the civil liability charge rested on the accusation of the more basic objective question of actual membership in the party. <ref>ibid., 49</ref>

"The main hearing of Hamsun's case took place December 16, 1947 and lasted only one day. The judgement in the case was delivered December 19, 1947. In a vote of two to one, he was sentenced to pay civil compensation charges of 425,000 kroner and court costs of 250 kroner. The judges in support of the ruling placed emphasis on the fact that Hamsun was listed in the N.S. party's membership card index and the fact that in a questionnaire sent out by the NS political press office, Hamsun described himself as "Quisling's man." <ref>ibid,. 51-2</ref>

"===Supreme Court appeal===

"The case was appealed to the Norwegian supreme court on the December 29 and the case was heard by the court from the June 18-19, 1948, with a judgement handed down on the June 23. The supreme court judgement unanimously affirmed the validity of the previous ruling regarding Hamsun's membership but the compensation demanded was reduced to 325,000 kroner and 500 kroner in court costs in light of the reduced financial circumstances of the accused. In its judgement, the court again emphasized that Hamsun was in the party membership index, had a member number, had worn an N.S. symbol on his clothing during the occupation, that he filled out, signed, and returned a questionnaire for a party organization which was based on the assumption of membership, that he had stated he was "Quisling's man" and that in his preliminary hearing on the June 23, 1945 had stated he had "slid into the [N. S.] organization." <ref>ibid., 53-6</ref>

"==Criticism of the court rulings against Hamsun==

"The fact that no criminal treason trial was held and Hamsun did not serve a punitive sentence in prison for his wartime actions has not reduced the controversy surrounding the treason proceedings against Norway's most famous 20th century author in the postwar period. Because the civil trial hinged upon the question of membership in the N.S. party, rather than upon Hamsun's support for the German war effort, or praise of Quisling and fascist political ideals, much discussion about the legal aspects of Hamsun's postwar trial has focused on two issues: the validity of the initial judgement of Hamsun's weakened mental faculties, and Hamsun's formal relationship with the wartime fascist N.S. party that led to the court ruling against him.

"===Hamsun's allegedly weakened mental capacities===

"Critics of the handling of the psychological evaluation of Hamsun in the aftermath of World War II emphasize both the inhumane treatment of the author as well as the final evaluation itself. With respect to the latter, it has been pointed out that some who met Hamsun during this period, including Christian Gierløffs who visited the author at Landvik home for the elderly in the fall of 1945, found Hamsun to be in full command of his mental faculties. It has also been argued that his final 1949 novel ''On Overgrown Paths'' does not reveal any weakening of Hamsun's mental capacities. Already by June 1946 there were some 47 pages of the original manuscript completed from this work <ref>ibid., 46</ref>.

Rather than enter an unproductive revert war, I propose to look for references to fill some of the voids in the discussion of Hamsun's literary contributions. After that I'll come back and reread your deletions and revised test to see whether I can support your changes.

Peace and happy editing - Williamborg (Bill) 02:54, 27 July 2009 (UTC)

"commemorating Hamsun is acceptable, as long as his literary talent and his dark side receive equal focus" is a ridiculous, political statement, and Gunnar Sønsteby is not considered an expert on literature. Hamsun is not known as a politician, his political sympathies and a few newspaper articles are of much less importance than his literary work. Most literary scholars probably couldn't care less whether Sønsteby thinks commemoration is in order based on his own political position, the fact remains that Hamsun is one of the most important authors of the 20th century and the best known (and best selling) Norwegian. Major Dahl (talk) 00:21, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
It is notable that Singers characterization of Hamsun as "the father of modern literature" was written before Singer was awarded his Nobel Prize in 1978. Also, it is likely that any translation that Singer made of Hamsun's work would have been into Yiddish, not English.

MichaelCYoung (talk) 03:16, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

Nevertheless, his pro-German stance at a time when his country was under Nazi control led to his being reviled as a traitor and his books burned. The only reason he wasn't tried for treason was that he was confined to a mental institution. Sure, we can read his books without any knowledge of this part of his life, but the lede should be a precis of the whole article, not just about his writings. As it is, no reaasonable reader of the lede would ever suspect he is still a hated figure in some circles, as it makes him out to be virtually a saint. That is very unbalanced. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 01:40, 21 September 2012 (UTC)

Seperate section about his trial[edit]

I have added a section about his trial.

"In 1947 he was tried in Grimstad, and fined.[1]"

  1. ^ (translation of title:— Hamsun was not psychiatrically ill — Psychiatrist Terje Øiesvold at Salten psychiatric center opines that Knut Hamsun did not have svekkede sjelsevner ("diminished" + "soul" + "abilities") "- Hamsun ikke psykisk syk — Psykiater Terje Øiesvold ved Salten psykiatriske senter mener Knut Hamsun ikke hadde svekkede sjelsevner. Hamsun burde vært stilt for retten for sin nazi-sympati under krigen."

The text and section has been removed, [4].

And I have reinserted the section. -- (talk) 19:22, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

2 "Biography" sections[edit]

This article has 2 "Biography" sections.

Shouldn't one of them be renamed? -- (talk) 14:50, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

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