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Knut Hamsun Family, Timeline, Nobel Laureates In Literature - 𝐊𝐧𝐮𝐭 𝐇𝐚𝐦𝐬𝐮𝐧 Biography
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Bergliot Bassøe-BechMarie Hamsun
Knud Pedersen
Arild HamsunCecilia HamsunTore HamsunUrsula PistorVictoria Hamsun
Lom
Male
Peder Pedersen
Tora Olsdatter
Leo
Lom
92
Grimstad
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Who is Knut Hamsun?

undefined - Knut HamsunKnut Hamsun

Knut Hamsun (born Knud Pedersen) was a Norwegian writer, poet, dramatist, and social critic. Considered by some as the father of modern literature, his works spanned over 70 years in a myriad of subjects, environments, and perspectives. During his career, he published 20 novels, short stories, essays, a travelogue, and a collection of poems. His works have led to many attributing to him the status of “the leader of the Neo-Romantic revolt at the turn of the 20th century”. Many of his greatest novels, ‘Hunger’, ‘Mysteries’, ‘Pan’, and ‘Victoria’ were published during his initial writing years. These novels dealt with aggressive characters who fight the system and are outsiders or alone. As his writing matured, so did the themes in his work and focussed on civilizations instead of individuals. His greatness is sometimes marred by his choice of politics. He was a conservative with anti-egalitarian views. He was a Nazi sympathizer and invited the wrath of many of his readers. Despite his political affiliations, many famous authors have cited him as a great author and have been influenced by his work. His fans included H.G.Wells, Franz Kafka, Henry Miller, Herman Hesse, Charles Bukowski, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Arthur Koestler, and Thomas Mann.

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Knut Hamsun Childhood & Early Life

Knut Hamsun was born on August 4, 1859, to Peder Pedersen and Tora Olsdatter, in Gudbrandsdalen, Norway. He was the fourth of seven children in this poverty-ridden family.

At the age of nine, he was sent to live with his uncle Hans Olsen. Hans abused his nephew by beating and starving him at times. This led to chronic nervous difficulties later in his life.

He escaped to Lom in 1874 and found odd jobs such as a shoemaker's apprentice, road worker, stonemason, peddler, store clerk, junior-level teacher, tram driver, and an assistant sheriff. During his initial struggle to become a writer, he continued to do odd jobs for 14 years in Norway and America to sustain himself.

Knut Hamsun Career

His literary pursuit began at the age of 17 when he was a rope maker’s apprentice. A significant amount of financial assistance was provided by tradesman and island owner Erasmus Zahl. Hamsun would later use Zahl as the model for the character “Mack” who appears in his novels.

The many odd jobs he did were the subject of his first novel, ‘Den Gaadefulde: En Kjærlighedshistorie fra Nordland’ (The Enigmatic Man: A Love Story from Northern Norway), published in 1877.

His second novel, Bjørger (1878) was a melodramatic love story published under the pseudonym Knud Pedersen Hamsund. In this, he tried to emulate an Icelandic narrative influenced by the writing style of Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson.

His travels in America were the basis of his publication, ‘Fra det moderne Amerikas Aandsliv’ (The Intellectual Life of Modern America), published in (1889).

He received critical acclaim with the novel ‘Hunger’ published in 1890. The novel was an account of his experiences as a starving writer. The mixture of emotions, seen through the protagonist’s eyes, gave a glimpse into the physical and mental state of his reality.

He used the theme of a wanderer who immerses himself and becomes one with the rural community he encounters in many of his novels. These include: ‘Mysteries’, ‘Pan’, ‘Under the Autumn Star’, ‘The Last Joy’, ‘Vagabonds’, and ‘Rosa’ among others.

His prose saw gregarious depictions and descriptions of Norwegian woodlands and coastline. He used this pantheistic view of man being one with nature in a mystical way in his monumental piece, ‘Growth of the Soil’, in 1917.

His political views also played a part in his writings. He was racially conscious as is depicted in ‘Fra det moderne Amerikas Aandsliv’. His advocacy of Germany during the First and Second World War led to many controversies.

He wrote many articles during the war, siding with the Germans and Hitler. During a meeting with Hitler, he requested the release of imprisoned Norwegian citizens, which angered Hitler. He also complained about the administrative activities of Josef Terboven, which further fuelled Hitler’s ire.

After Hitler’s death in 1945, Hamsun published a eulogy describing him as a “warrior for humankind” and “reformer”. This did not go down well with many and his books were burned in major cities. As a result, he was confined to a psychiatric facility for several months. This also affected the reception of his later works.

His last book, ‘Paa giengrodde Stier’ (On Overgrown Paths) was published in 1949. It was written in order to prove that he was mentally stable and is part fiction and part memoir.

Knut Hamsun Major Works

The earlier period of Knut Hamsun’s writings consisted of aggrieved, vagabond characters who oppose societal norms. This led to some great novels such as ‘Hunger’ (1890), ‘Mysteries’ (1892), ‘Pan’ (1894), and ‘Victoria’ (1898).

His middle period focussed on youth and their losses. This theme is explored in novels like ‘Under the Autumn Star’ (1906), ‘Benoni’ (1908), and ‘A Wanderer Plays on Muted Strings’ (1909).

His later works were a criticism of civilization with writings such as ‘The Road Leads On’ (1933) and ‘The Ring is Closed’ (1936).

’Markens Grøde’ (1917), his Nobel Prize winning work, is the story of a man who works in harmony with nature and creates a farm out of wilderness.

Knut Hamsun Awards & Achievements

For his 1917 novel, ‘Markens Grøde or ‘Growth of the Soil’, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1920. It was based on Norwegian New Realism, a genre he experimented with in his later works.

Knut Hamsun Personal Life & Legacy

Knut Hamsun was married to Bergljot Göpfert (née Bech) from 1898 to 1906. He sired a daughter, Victoria, during this time.

He then married writer and actress, Marie Andersen, in 1909. They had four children Tore, Arild, Elinor, and Cecilia.

During World War II, he suffered two intracranial haemorrhages. By the age of 80, he was almost deaf.

He passed away on February 19, 1952, at the ripe old age of 92. His ashes were buried on his farm in Nørholm, Norway.

Knut Hamsun Trivia

The life and times of Knut Hamsun were made into a biopic, ‘Hamsun’, in 1996. It starred Max Von Sydow as Hamsun and was directed by Jan Troell.

Over 25 of his works have been adapted to the screen. These include film and television mini-series adaptions such as ‘Sult’ (1966), ‘Mysteries’ (1978), ‘Landstrykere (Wayfarers)’ (1990), and ‘The Telegraphist’ (1993).

His novel, ‘Pan’ was adapted four times between 1922 and 1995. The latest film was a Danish production and was directed by Henning Carlsen.

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Knut Hamsun awards

  • Other

    • Nobel Prize in Literature
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Knut Hamsun biography timelines

  • Knut Hamsun was born on August 4, 1859, to Peder Pedersen and Tora Olsdatter, in Gudbrandsdalen, Norway. He was the fourth of seven children in this poverty-ridden family.
    4th Aug 1859
  • He escaped to Lom in 1874 and found odd jobs such as a shoemaker's apprentice, road worker, stonemason, peddler, store clerk, junior-level teacher, tram driver, and an assistant sheriff. During his initial struggle to become a writer, he continued to do odd jobs for 14 years in Norway and America to sustain himself.
    1874
  • The many odd jobs he did were the subject of his first novel, ‘Den Gaadefulde: En Kjærlighedshistorie fra Nordland’ (The Enigmatic Man: A Love Story from Northern Norway), published in 1877.
    1877
  • His second novel, Bjørger (1878) was a melodramatic love story published under the pseudonym Knud Pedersen Hamsund. In this, he tried to emulate an Icelandic narrative influenced by the writing style of Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson.
    1878
  • His travels in America were the basis of his publication, ‘Fra det moderne Amerikas Aandsliv’ (The Intellectual Life of Modern America), published in (1889).
    1889
  • He received critical acclaim with the novel ‘Hunger’ published in 1890. The novel was an account of his experiences as a starving writer. The mixture of emotions, seen through the protagonist’s eyes, gave a glimpse into the physical and mental state of his reality.
    1890
  • Knut Hamsun was married to Bergljot Göpfert (née Bech) from 1898 to 1906. He sired a daughter, Victoria, during this time.
    1898 To 1906
  • He then married writer and actress, Marie Andersen, in 1909. They had four children Tore, Arild, Elinor, and Cecilia.
    1909
  • His prose saw gregarious depictions and descriptions of Norwegian woodlands and coastline. He used this pantheistic view of man being one with nature in a mystical way in his monumental piece, ‘Growth of the Soil’, in 1917.
    1917
  • ’Markens Grøde’ (1917), his Nobel Prize winning work, is the story of a man who works in harmony with nature and creates a farm out of wilderness.
    1917
  • For his 1917 novel, ‘Markens Grøde or ‘Growth of the Soil’, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1920. It was based on Norwegian New Realism, a genre he experimented with in his later works.
    1917 To 1920
  • His later works were a criticism of civilization with writings such as ‘The Road Leads On’ (1933) and ‘The Ring is Closed’ (1936).
    1933 To 1936
  • After Hitler’s death in 1945, Hamsun published a eulogy describing him as a “warrior for humankind” and “reformer”. This did not go down well with many and his books were burned in major cities. As a result, he was confined to a psychiatric facility for several months. This also affected the reception of his later works.
    1945
  • His last book, ‘Paa giengrodde Stier’ (On Overgrown Paths) was published in 1949. It was written in order to prove that he was mentally stable and is part fiction and part memoir.
    1949
  • He passed away on February 19, 1952, at the ripe old age of 92. His ashes were buried on his farm in Nørholm, Norway.
    19th Feb 1952
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Frequently asked questions about Knut Hamsun

  • What is Knut Hamsun birthday?

    Knut Hamsun was born at August 4, 1859

  • Where is Knut Hamsun's birth place?

    Knut Hamsun was born in Lom

  • What is Knut Hamsun nationalities?

    Knut Hamsun's nationalities is Norwegian

  • Who is Knut Hamsun spouses?

    Knut Hamsun's spouses is Bergliot Bassøe-Bech, Marie Hamsun

  • Who is Knut Hamsun childrens?

    Knut Hamsun's childrens is Arild Hamsun, Cecilia Hamsun, Tore Hamsun, Ursula Pistor, Victoria Hamsun

  • Who is Knut Hamsun's father?

    Knut Hamsun's father is Peder Pedersen

  • Who is Knut Hamsun's mother?

    Knut Hamsun's mother is Tora Olsdatter

  • What is Knut Hamsun's sun sign?

    Knut Hamsun is Leo

  • When was Knut Hamsun died?

    Knut Hamsun was died at February 19, 1952

  • Where was Knut Hamsun died?

    Knut Hamsun was died in Grimstad

  • Which age was Knut Hamsun died?

    Knut Hamsun was died at age 92