Thursday, February 19, 2009

Today in History: Knut Hamsun

Today marks the 57th anniversary of the death of Knud Pedersen. Don't recognize the name? That's because after his first published work in 1877, Knud changed his name to the better known Knut Hamsun.

Born into a poor family in Gubrandsdal, Norway, Knut struck outo n his own as a teen, first to become a rope-maker's apprentice and then an author. My, what a strange path life can take us on, huh? He would first gain acclaim from his novel, Hunger, which some believe was semi-autobiographical for Hamsun. With each successive novel, Hamsun gained more noteriety, until he eventually won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Unfortunately Hamsun's popularity would get sidetracked in his later years. You see, Hamsun apparently had an affinity for Germany and German culture. Nothing wrong with that...except it was the 1940's. So, yeah...maybe not the best time to be rooting for beer and kaser am schnitzel. After the war Hamsun was tried for treason, but the case eventually was dropped.

The truth of Hamsun's involvement with the Nazi party is the subject of hot debate amongst historians. Personally, I think Hamsun may have gotten a bad rap and was caught up in the post-war fervor of Norway's attempts to bring Quislingites to justice. Otherwise, why would Norway make 2009 "Hamsun Year" or make a commemorative Hamsun coin?

Please feel free to debate.

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