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Knut Pedersen Hamsun

Also Known As: "Knud Pedersen", "Knut Pedersen Garmostrædet", "Knut Træe"
Birthplace: Garmostrædet, Garmo, Lom, Oppland, Norway
Death: Died in Grimstad, Aust-Agder, Norge
Immediate Family:

Son of Peder Pederson Skultbakken and Torø Olsdotter Garmotrædet
Husband of Marie Hamsun
Ex-husband of Bergljot Bassøe Bech
Father of Victoria Hamsun; Tore Hamsun; Arild Hamsun; Ellinor Hamsun and Cecilia Fønss
Brother of Peder Pedersson Skultbakken; Ole Pedersson Skultbakken; Hans Pedersson Skultbakken; Anne Marie Pedersdotter Kristiansen; Sophie Marie Pedersdotter Mork and 1 other

Occupation: Forfatter
Managed by: Trond Myrstad
Last Updated:

About Knut Hamsun


  • Oppland fylke, Garmo i Lom, Klokkerbok nr. 14 (1845-1876), Fødte og døpte 1859, side 48-49. Nr. 22: Knud - født 4. august 1859 på Garmostrædet, Garmo i Lom; døpt 28. august 1859 i Garmo stavkirke, Lom (som nå står på Maihaugen i Lillehammer).
  • Oppland fylke, Lom, Ministerialbok nr. 7 (1863-1884), Konfirmerte 1874, side 153. Nr. 4: Knut Pedersen - konfirmert 4. oktober 1874 i Lom. «Garmoødegaard. f. Garmotrædet.»
  • Oslo fylke, Johannes, Ministerialbok nr. 6 (1893-1906), Ekteviede 1898, side 98. Nr. 91: Knut Hamsun / Bergliot Bassøe Goepfert - gift 16. mai 1898 i Johanneskirken, Oslo. Hans fødested: Lom.
  • Oslo fylke, Oslo byfogd, Vigselsbok (borgerlig) nr. II 7 (1907-1911), Borgerlig viede 1909, side 184b-185a. Venstre side: Knut Hamsun / Anne Marie Andersen - gift 25. juni 1909 hos Oslo byfogd. «Han er født i Lom (...)».


Knut Hamsun (født 4. august 1859 i Vågå som Knud Pedersen, død 19. februar 1952 på Nørholm) var en norsk forfatter. Han regnes som en av det 20. århundres mest innflytelsesrike litterære stilister, og står for mange som opphavet til den moderne roman. Han ble tildelt Nobelprisen i litteratur i 1920.

Knut Hamsun (August 4, 1859 – February 19, 1952) was a Norwegian author. He was praised by King Haakon VII of Norway as Norway's soul. In 1920, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for the epic, Growth of the Soil.


[] -------------------- Knut Hamsun was born as Knud Pedersen in Lom in the Gudbrandsdal valley of Norway.[8] He was the fourth son (of seven children) of Tora Olsdatter and Peder Pedersen. When he was three, the family moved to Hamsund, Hamarøy in Nordland.[9] They were poor and an uncle had invited them to farm his land for him.

At nine Knut was separated from his family and lived with his uncle Hans Olsen, who needed help with the post office he ran. Olsen used to beat and starve his nephew, and Hamsun later stated that his chronic nervous difficulties were due to the way his uncle treated him.

In 1874 he finally escaped back to Lom; for the next five years he did any job for money; he was a store clerk, peddler, shoemaker's apprentice, sheriff's assistant, and an elementary-school teacher. [10]

At 17 he became a ropemaker's apprentice; at about the same time he started to write. He asked businessman Erasmus Zahl to give him significant monetary support, and Zahl agreed. Hamsum later used Zahl as a model for the character Mack appearing in his novels Pan (1894), Dreamers (1904), and Benoni and Rosa (1908).[11]

He spent several years in America, traveling and working at various jobs, and published his impressions under the title Fra det moderne Amerikas Aandsliv (1889).

Knut Hamsun's America

   by Arlow W. Andersen (Volume 23: Page 175)

In the 1880’s a young Norwegian of great promise I came to America. European writers had been sending their heroes and heroines abroad to realize their ambitions for a more expansive life, as Henrik Ibsen did with Lona Hessel in Pillars of Society. In the words of Hanna Astrup Larsen, whose analysis of Knut Hamsun’s literary works appeared some forty years ago, Hamsun came not merely as an immigrant seeking his fortune. He sought opportunities for leading an independent existence and using his gifts. Having bruised himself on Old World littleness, he looked to the New World for bigger visions and for a saner estimate of a man’s worth. Although he was destined to be disappointed, some of the things he sought were there. {1} In 1920 Knut Hamsun was to receive the Nobel prize for literature. He produced many novels but left no memoirs. Fortunately, his son Tore has provided a remarkably complete account, in Norwegian, of his father. If a man’s achievements are in large measure the outcome of his childhood ambitions and experiences, Knut Hamsun may well serve as an example. Originally called Knut Pedersen Hamsund, he was born August 4, 1859, into a tailor’s family in Garmostræet, district of [176] Vaagaa, Gudbrandsdal. When he was about three the family moved northward to a gaard (farming estate) called Hamsund, in Hamarøy in Nordland, not far from the Lofoten Islands. The islands and the fisheries did not interest him, but he loved the woods and the mountains. At the age of nine he was sent away for five years, like a medieval apprentice, to the home of his maternal uncle, Hans Olsen. There he worked in a store and did odd jobs. It was a hard and trying period for the boy, living under the strict discipline of an eccentric relative. {2}

Young Hamsun remembered well a nation-wide revival that eventually reached Nordland. Leading the drive for souls was Pastor Lars Oftedal of Stavanger, depicted by some as a bearded champion from Vestlandet (the West Country). Hans Olsen was gripped, and Knut became the object of his concern. In an issue of Dagbladet (Christiania), of 1889, the year before Hans Olsen died, Hamsun expressed his disdain for Oftedal, for his uncle, and for the spirit that they personified. He felt that his childhood had been blighted by their influence. Knut finally fled to his native community in Gudbrandsdal, where he worked in a store for a year and was confirmed in the Lutheran faith. He never was reconciled with his uncle. He learned to grit his teeth, says his son, a lesson that was to be useful in the coming years. {3}

Now about fifteen years of age, Hamsun made his way back to the family home in Hamarøy, where for the next five years, 1874—79, he had various jobs and assisted the local lensmand (sheriff) . He also had the opportunity to do a bit of teaching.

In the sheriff’s home he encountered the works of Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Kristofer Janson, and others, and did not squander [177] this opportunity to read. Nor was young Hamsun content until three of his minor romantic stories were accepted by printers in Tromsø and Bodø. {4}

With financial assistance from a wealthy merchant in Hamarøy, Knut next went southward to Hardanger. There he changed his name to Pedersen, which he thought more Norwegian. Later, in 1885, a printer inadvertently omitted the "d" from Hamsund. The young author thought the change a good one and retained it. His struggle for recognition as a literary light began when he was twenty-one; a Copenhagen publisher rejected a manuscript which he had presented in person, at considerable expense and inconvenience to himself. He returned to Norway and arranged to visit Bjørnson at Aulestad, his estate in Gudbrandsdal. The older bard read the spurned manuscript, then advised Hamsun not to write. As an alternative Bjørnson recommended him to Jens Selmer, foremost actor in Christiania, but the result was a few lessons in public speaking, nothing more. Hamsun did become an orator of distinction. When he once lectured on the Swedish playwright August Strindberg to a rather select audience of six, Johan Enger, editor of Gjøviks Blad, recorded it as one of the greatest experiences of his life. {5}

After a miserable winter in Christiania, 1879—80 (the basis of his novel, Hunger) , Hamsun took to road construction work in eastern Norway, all the while feeling the irresistible pull of America. He had a friend whose mother had turned to Unitarianism, a movement said to have been introduced in Norway by Kristofer Janson. She encouraged Hamsun to prepare for the Unitarian ministry, but he preferred to see America. [178] This time she provided the necessary funds. She was instrumental in securing from Bjørnson a letter of introduction addressed to Professor Rasmus B. Anderson of the University of Wisconsin. Thus in 1882, at the age of twenty-three, Hamsun departed for the first of two sojourns in America. Rasmus B. Anderson proved not to be hopeful of this newcomer. The professor of Scandinavian language and literature saw little potential in him as a poet and urged him to seek manual employment. Nor is there any evidence that Anderson encouraged Hamsun to take to lecturing. On one occasion, in 1888, Hamsun did speak in a small Wisconsin community and was greatly disappointed. Only four persons attended. Never had he seen so much drinking in a town. The people of this Norwegian center were devoid of thoughts and feelings. {6}

The years 1882—84, spent partly as a store clerk in Elroy, Wisconsin, and partly working in a lumberyard in Madelia, Minnesota, were boring to the young, impatient aristocrat. But there were brighter days. With the help of a schoolteacher, he improved his English. He heard and met Mark Twain and left the lecture hall favorably impressed with the humorist’s natural style and his rapport with the audience. Kristofer Janson called on Hamsun in Madelia and persuaded him to go to Minneapolis to assist with his Unitarian congregation. There he was treated like a son in the Janson home. Mrs. Drude Krog Janson, gifted musically and a devotee of good literature, may have meant more to Hamsun in later life than Kristofer Janson himself. Meanwhile the young man busied himself translating items from English into Norwegian for his host, and with occasional talks in Unitarian meetings, though not specifically on religious topics. {7}

In the summer of 1884 Hamsun was told that he had [179] developed tuberculosis, and he longed to return to Norway. Unitarian friends came to his aid with travel expenses. So concerned was he en route about his health that he often left the railroad coach, just behind the locomotive, to breathe fresh air, and on the sea, air was no problem. Surprisingly, his health was restored by the time he reached his native land. Probably the doctor’s diagnosis had been an error. Hamsun explained, writing Rasmus B. Anderson in 1886, "You were right, Professor. I did not have tuberculosis, only a severe case of bronchitis." {8}

Before leaving for Aurdal in Valdres, Hamsun presented a letter of introduction from Kristofer Janson to Lars Hoist, editor of Dagbladet. Hoist promised to consider any literary contributions. Hamsun spent his days at the Hotel Frydenlund in Valdres. He soon published an article on Mark Twain in Ny Illustrert Tidende of Christiania. A meeting with Arne Garborg brought him no more encouragement than the earlier encounter with Bjørnson, although Garborg may have been impressed with Hamsun’s style, which, he suggested, resembled that of the Russian novelist, Feodor Dostoevsky. Ham-sun replied that he had never read Dostoevsky. He applied to Aftenposten (Christiania) , edited by Amandus Schibsted, for a staff assignment, and was turned down. Occasionally Hoist accepted an article. {9}

The restless Hamsun again visited the United States from 1886 to 1888. Through Hoist he had been able to borrow money from a businessman of some culture. After settling down in Chicago he dispatched a long report about the journey which was published in Dagbladet. He sent a revealing letter, dated September 20, 1886, to his friend Erik Frydenlund in Valdres. He worked as a laborer for the Chicago streetcar system, he explained, and later he became a conductor on the horse cars. He was through with Schibsted of Aftenposten. Hamsun couldn’t understand the man: he called him the most [180] peculiar editor in Christiania. Hoist and Thommessen of Verdens Gang (Christiania) treated him kindly. When he returned to Norway he would write for their papers, doing his very best. Many years later Krøger Johansen, onetime editor of Normanna of Minneapolis, told of Hamsun’s experiences as a streetcar conductor. Hamsun, who was nearsighted, mis-called streets in the darkness and had no sense of his whereabouts. So preoccupied was he with his thoughts, and sometimes with reading classics, that he would give the passengers the wrong change. Some of them rode free, thanks to his absent-mindedness. Company inspectors finally caught up with the poet turned conductor. {10}

Out of a job, Hamsun struck upon the idea of appealing in writing to the meat-packing king, Philip Armour, for a loan which he frankly stated he could not promise to repay. He took his simple request to the offices in the stockyards and submitted it to the doorman, with little hope of a favorable response. He could see Armour at his desk, busy with a mountain of papers. The doorman returned promptly with the requested twenty-five dollars. Hamsun, still not recovered from the shock, asked, absently, whether he had gotten the money. "Yes," smiled the man. "What did he say?" asked Hamsun. "He said that your letter was worth it." Hamsun then inquired whether he should go in and express his thanks. The messenger thought not; Armour might be annoyed. Hamsun declared later that he had little recollection of what he had written, but he knew that it was in poor English and that Armour’s acceptance of it was an ironical gesture. {11}

With heart somewhat lightened, Hamsun proceeded from Chicago to North Dakota, where he worked on the bonanza farm of Oliver Dalrymple in the Red River Valley. In the fall of 1887 he went once more to his Unitarian friends in Minneapolis. By the spring of 1888 he was ready to return again to Norway, planning to raise the passage money through a [181] farewell lecture. He reserved Dania Hall in Minneapolis, and before a packed house of Norwegian Americans delivered an attack upon the vaunted American freedom and upon American materialism, morals, and intellectual life. His sharp comments were to be the basis of a book, to be published after he reached Europe. His listeners were obviously amused, few of them having become rich in the promised land, but they found in Hamsun a spokesman for their own views. The lecture netted forty dollars; it was not enough for the return journey, but again friends came to the rescue. {12}

By a strange coincidence Hamsun met Rasmus B. Anderson aboard the Danish vessel "Thingvalla," to the surprise of both. Hamsun was playing cards at the time, gambling in a small way, with three male companions. Anderson, who had become minister to Denmark, remarked that he had thought Hamsun was dead! "And what became of you?" asked Hamsun. Anderson replied stiffly that he had been serving as his country’s chief diplomatic representative in Copenhagen since 1885. Then, observing a black ribbon in Hamsun’s lapel, he inquired, "Are you in mourning?" Hamsun explained that he was, not for a relative, but for the Haymarket anarchists. Professor Anderson was taken aback. Hamsun saw nothing further of him nor of Mrs. Anderson during the remainder of the voyage. So perturbed was the American minister over Hamsun’s remark that he reported him to the captain as a dangerous person. Upon debarking in Copenhagen he alerted the police, and for several months Hamsun was shadowed day and night. {13} [182]

In Copenhagen, a great cultural center, Hamsun rented a cheap room. Tore Hamsun states that his father had money enough to last only fourteen days with dinner, three weeks without dinner. Knut Hamsun then wrote the first chapters of his novel Hunger. There had to be an outlet for publication, so for two days he circled the home of Georg Brandes, the literary critic, hoping for a glimpse of the great man, perhaps even an interview. Eventually he approached him indirectly by calling on his brother Edvard, then editor of Politikken of Copenhagen. Hamsun left the manuscript with Edvard Brandes, who remarked to a friend, the Swedish author Axel Lundegaard, that Hamsun’s face haunted him indescribably. There was something of Dostoevsky in it, he said, and like a fool he ran to the post office that very evening to send the emaciated man ten crowns. Edvard Brandes arranged to have Hunger published anonymously in Ny Jord (New Soil) of Copenhagen as a serial, beginning in November, 1888. Ny Jord had been carrying Hamsun’s article, written in Minneapolis, on Kristofer Janson. Norwegian newspapers began to comment upon Hunger, struck by its sensational revelation of human agony and endurance, and they speculated about the identity of the author. {14}

Early in 1889 the student society of the University of Copenhagen invited Hamsun to speak. The lecture was mainly a revision of his farewell address in Minneapolis. P. Gustav Philipsen, a Danish printer, declared excitedly that he would like to publish it in an expanded form. So it developed that Fra det moderne Amerikas aandsliv (From the Intellectual Life of Modern America) appeared as a volume of 255 pages in Copenhagen in the spring of 1889. There is evidence, however, that Philipsen lacked enthusiasm for the final product. He felt that Hamsun had gone too far on some points, that he became hypercritical of many things American. {15} [183]

Hamsun’s critical attitude was not an exceptional one. Other Norwegians had vented their displeasure toward American ways. Not all were so kind in their judgments as Kristofer Janson and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson. For example, certain Norwegian journals repeatedly dwelt on unfavorable aspects of the United States. G. E. Kjeldseth, editor of Tromsø Stiftstidende, who in the early 1880’s had published a letter from a correspondent who supported emigration, turned within a few years to discouraging it. On September 30, 1888, he published, besides a warning to Gentiles (non-Mormons) that they might be murdered by Mormons in Utah, a drab description of the boardinghouse life of the overworked American laborer. There appeared also in Stiftstidende a full report of a lecture given in Minneapolis by a Swedish-born lawyer, Johan Wilhelm Arctander, a Democrat turned Republican. In 1853, at the age of four, he had gone to live in Skien, Norway, and had emigrated to America in 1870. Economic conditions there were deplorable, he said. For this the low-tariff Democrats were to blame, yet they probably would be re-elected. Europeans should not sail for America; they could not live on universal suffrage alone. His words were repeated throughout Norway. Perhaps his readers there were not aware of his satirical and argumentative personality. At a Minneapolis political meeting in 1884 he had required police protection when he left the hall. He had taunted a Norwegian audience that was predominantly Democratic almost to the point of violence. {16}

Stavanger Amstidende og Adresseavis, edited by L. C. Kielland, Jr., published in two installments a lecture given in Christiania by Arctander, now returned from abroad. He complained of conditions in America as they had been portrayed by a man named Homme. There was more than one [184] class in railroad travel, Arctander stated. Land still available for homesteads was far removed from population centers. Americans lacked a history, hence their literature and art were poorly developed. The theater was disappointing, in spite of its beautiful façade. The commercial angle was stressed. The press engaged in flights of sensationalism. Americans did not read books. At one time woman’s rights had been the rage, now it was free love. There were some five hundred competing Christian sects. Preachers did not deliver sermons, as in Norway, but told stories. Norwegians in America celebrated May 17, the Norwegian national holiday, by drinking. Knud Madsen had the office of sheriff in Chicago, giving him the dubious honor of hanging the seven condemned anarchists, said to be guilty of murder in the Haymarket affair. {17}

Christian Friele’s Morgenbladet (Christiania) joined the chorus of approval about Arctander’s revelations. The speaker had mentioned confusion in American lawmaking. When the time allotted for a session ran out, the Senate or House clock was stopped to permit the completion of business. Some days two conflicting laws were under debate. Americans throve on excitement; just then it was temperance agitation. Only the immigrant trains were single class. Scandinavians had little influence in American politics. They had a reputation for drinking and carousing, and for clannishness. In 1889 Morgenbladet continued with an account of a shameful scene in the Senate, reminiscent of the Sumner-Brooks episode of prewar days. This time the incident was confined to the Senate committee on Indian affairs; there were dire threats, but nothing more violent occurred than an ear pulling. Chairman Chandler of New York was the victim, Senator Blackburn of Kentucky the aggressor. {18} [185]

It should be mentioned that many, while entertained by Arctander’s pointed remarks, accepted them with more than a grain of salt. Still others, like one immigrant in Minnesota, defended the United States. He complained to the editor of Vestlands-Posten about unwarranted allusions to murders in Texas and in New York saloons, far away from his own peaceful abode. Not everyone in America carried a revolver. Too many Norwegian journalists were getting false information from English or German sources. He deplored the scarcity of references to his adopted country in the Norwegian newspapers. Even the scant mention of the Civil War annoyed this patriotic immigrant. Although the American conflict had engaged more men and lasted longer than the Franco-Prussian War, European papers constantly discussed the latter. The correspondent had a good word for American democracy. In 1888, said he, ten million voters went to the polls, enough to cause Plato and political philosophers of succeeding centuries to turn in their graves! {19}

We now turn to Knut Hamsun’s extended comments upon American intellectual and cultural manifestations. In fairness, it should be stated that he was only thirty, and extremely outspoken. In his later years he requested that there be no further dissemination of the opinions in Amerikas aandsliv. It is useful, however, to survey Norwegian press reactions to his observations, and to discover how seriously his words were accepted. We may assume that America was far from perfect. With that understanding, the outbursts of a young poet, of emotional rather than objective appraisal, may still have value.

In his book, expanding upon the two lectures delivered before the students in Copenhagen in 1889, Hamsun first berated the patriotism of Americans. No sooner did the bewildered European encounter the bustle and informality of the port of New York when he was treated to a parade, [186] likely as not of war veterans. Americans showed hostility toward those who disagreed with them. Proud of their inventions, they thought that everything new originated in the United States. They were ignorant of affairs outside their country. The public school, extolled by some as an ideal, limited the study of geography and history strictly to America. In place of state-church influence in the classroom there was a religious orthodoxy that manifested itself in morning prayers, hymn singing, and Bible reading. {20}

Hamsun, sensitive to the treatment of aliens, observed that the Yankees called all Scandinavians Swedes. Congress was considering new immigration restrictions, for no good reason. There was plenty of land, and more laborers were needed. The only foreigners who commanded respect were the British. The power of the money aristocracy was strong, even in American journalism. Newspapers reflected American culture with stark realism. They were cluttered with this and that, including local news and sensational stories. They dealt seriously with politics only every fourth year. Hamsun found them unintelligent and uninteresting. {21}

Conceptions of freedom were not as simon-pure as Norwegian journals represented them to be. Editors in the homeland should see this at first hand. Freedom was lacking in many ways. Let a newspaper print an error about Congress and it was punished. An author who showed signs of European influence was silenced. Emile Zola’s works were banned because of their alleged immorality. Little children were working in factories under conditions no better than those of slavery. {22}

In the matter of political theory, the ordinary American thought only of dynamite when he heard the word "anarchism." In the hanging of the Haymarket demonstrators the American-vaunted democracy and freedom proved as [187] autocratic as any medieval despotism. An author who favored monarchy over republicanism would be run out of the country. To disavow any of George Washington’s principles invited exile or execution. American freedom was freedom en masse, not freedom for the individual. The bomb thrower in the Haymarket riot of May 4, 1886, was not identified. But because five policemen were killed and two wounded, five anarchists were condemned to death and two were sentenced to life imprisonment. An eye for an eye! Practical American justice! Albert Parsons wasn’t even present at the Haymarket meeting. To cap it all, a monument was raised, not to the spokesmen of the downtrodden, but to the fallen police. {23}

In Hamsun’s opinion, no better illustration could be found to describe the American system of justice than the Haymarket case. People mainly of Europe’s lowest type (referring no doubt to unenlightened immigrants) condemned to death some of America’s most intelligent men, simply because intelligence was not understood by the howling mob. The Police Gazette was allowed to go through the mails, but not an anarchist paper. One could escape punishment for murder, political corruption, and swindling, but for proclaiming an unwelcome social philosophy the extreme penalty had to be paid. Yankees considered it smart to get away with a swindle. In the absence of extradition laws between Canada and the United States, crooked bank employees escaped into the dominion. Newspapers played up the successful criminal. Crime was coarse and baseless, seldom having an economic motive. More often the criminal simply wanted luxury in the way of fine clothing or elegant dining. {24}

Speaking of the public schools, Hamsun admitted that because America was a new country, composed of many [188] nationalities, it represented an experiment in democracy on a vast scale. But he concluded that the great republic was a culture borrower nevertheless, and as rootless as were the fathers and grandfathers when they forsook Europe. It would be unnatural for Americans to be an enlightened lot. They had emigrated for economic reasons, and by the time they had achieved a degree of financial security they had lost the incentive to learn. Nor was the quality of education commensurate with the heavy costs of the public school system. The curriculum ignored Europe. The teaching schedule was often disregarded. Teachers told stories, but seldom dwelt long upon the abstract. True, American schools excelled in arithmetic and American history and geography, but arithmetic was turned to selfish and practical use in a materialistic society. Before a Yankee boy was very old, he know how to cheat a streetcar conductor! History dealt mainly with American war heroes. While the schools were not confessional, or related to the church, teachers nevertheless were inclined to draw morals from the subject matter rather than stay with the facts. {25}

In free-swinging style the young Hamsun also let fly, though more mildly, at church life in America, which was very active. Minneapolis had no less than 146 congregations of various denominations. Copenhagen, with about the same population, had only 29. American churches were well equipped, even ornate. Sermons had no more intellectual stimulus than in Norway, but were superior to the Norwegian in their combination of logic, down-to-earth speech, and practical illustrations. On Sunday evenings Hamsun sometimes chose church in preference to the theater. There he found entertainment (without cigar smoke) in the company of beautiful and well-dressed ladies. There was much social pressure to belong to the church and to contribute, and preachers had great influence in the community. But America’s moral standard was basically monetary, even for church members. [189] In the opinion of Robert G. Ingersoll, the great agnostic and lecturer, religious freedom was limited to those with money. {26}

Hamsun proceeded to air his views on American women, who, he declared, had the power. They could practice free love without punishment or stigma. They could easily obtain divorces. Judges heard their pleas sympathetically and almost invariably believed their tales of woe. Without children or perhaps with one or two unwanted offspring, women had time to sit in church. Mothers preferred not to care for their infants personally, but employed nursemaids. {27}

Hamsun’s concluding pages gave Yankee culture a rough going over. The American was familiar with English tunes and with formal etiquette, but basically he was still a creature of the prairies. He never became an aristocrat by temperament. In fact, the Civil War was waged to suppress the Southern aristocracy, not to free the slaves. Hamsun quoted Lepel Griffin in an 1884 issue of the Fortmightly Review of London: America was disappointing in its politics, literature, culture, and art, in its natural aspect, its towns, and their people! Hamsun’s last words were a pessimistic reference to America’s "dark sky." {28}

Among the more thorough reviews of Hamsun’s Fra det moderne Amerikas aandsliv was an unsigned criticism in Aftenposten. It may have been written by Amandus Schibsted, the editor in whom Hamsun expressed so little confidence, or by a special literary editor. The reviewer mingled firmness with gentleness in his skillful appraisal of Hamsun’s work. Hamsun’s recent novel, Hunger, had attracted favorable attention, said he, especially among liberals. It was well constructed, despite some exaggerations. Yet it fell short of being a masterpiece, as some venstre (left or liberal) reviewers claimed it was. The present work, considered as a cultural contribution, ranked higher. Its content was original. Even [190] with several grammatical errors, the style was lively and in places witty and stimulating.

Turning to the core of the book, Aftenposten found it gratifying that Hamsun had not become enamored, as so many young people were, of everything new in America. He did not lose himself in wonder and see only the rosy side of things. On the contrary, he was so critical of American society that he gave the impression of downright pessimism.

Some of the faults that Hamsun observed, said the reviewer, could undoubtedly be found in other countries. Perhaps Americans were more interested in the latest murder than in politics, but it could not be denied that this was also true of nations even closer to Norway. It seemed to the commentator that Hamsun was attributing the blame for weaknesses in the American judicial system to a popular misunderstanding of the meaning of justice. But the reviewer believed that the American people did possess a sense of justice. They demonstrated this by lynching murderers and thieves because they lacked confidence in their government. They took the law into their own hands.

It was reasonable for appreciation of art and science to be lacking in a country where the lower classes, both native born and immigrant, played so important a role. It should be recognized, on the other hand, that probably in no other land was so much money given toward scientific experimentation as in America. Hamsun saw none of the brighter side of America and its people. He pictured the shadowy aspects so colorfully that the book made pleasant reading!

Best perhaps was Hamsun’s disparagement of the poetry of Walt Whitman, who had a big name in America. Even on this side of the Atlantic, in Norway, there were those foolish enough to admire the man who consistently composed meaningless lines. He attacked Ralph Waldo Emerson, too, although he ranked several steps above the half-demented Whitman. But the reviewer did not follow Hamsun in his critical remarks about Shakespeare, who was taken [191] to task for being out of date in his understanding of human psychology. Hamsun could learn something there. We understand and appreciate Shakespeare better, remarked the reviewer, than Hamsun does.

Hamsun had to beware of one-sidedness. With his active mind and piquant style he was inclined toward extreme polemics. The temptation to make a brilliant comment or to express an original idea seemed to capture him. It might hurt his future authorship. Also, he committed sins against the Norwegian language, its grammar, and its usage. Meaningless words and phrases crept in. Abroad, the author had failed to improve upon his command of the Norwegian, bending himself rather toward learning English. Apparently most of his higher education derived from the study of literary works in English. Nevertheless, it was to be hoped that his next production would not be long in coming. He had made a good debut. Thus closed the review in Aftenposten. {29}

In Verdens Gang a two-column review of Hamsun under "New Books" carried the initials "G. B." The writer was undoubtedly the illustrious Danish Jew, Georg Brandes, ranked by many second only to Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve of France as the literary critic of the century. Brandes had read Hamsun’s book in proof and had recommended it to a publisher. Hamsun understood that Brandes would introduce the volume, and in a letter to a friend he spoke of this undeserved honor. "I am radical in my book," he confessed. {30}

Amerikas aandsliv drew qualified praise from Georg Brandes. First were a few favorable reactions. Hamsun’s book was well written. He expressed hostility toward everything coarse, not being deceived by anything which masqueraded as popular, free, or moral. The book was essentially a protest, laden with satire. Brandes cited some examples. Hamsun hadn’t felt at home anywhere in America. A man of his aristocratic nature did not find the right climate of opinion or [192] custom in the free states. He was quick to see the weak side, the ridiculous, and the unrefined.

By reading Hamsun, continued Brandes, one did not get to the source of life in the United States. With his unusual talent, Hamsun distorted. Would that he applied his skill with the same intensity toward understanding! His kind of satire could be written of any land. Hamsun did not mention that in America "no military organization eats the marrow of the people." He was so patriotic that he measured intellectual achievement by the degree to which America understood Norway. In France such ignorance would be greater. One could know a great deal without knowing anything about Norway. But the reviewer’s intention was not to attack Hamsun. Rather, Brandes would say to Norwegian readers: "Here is a new and distinguished Norwegian prose writer, a man who thinks independently, who is already important and will become greater."

A review of Hamsun’s provocative work appeared in Drammens Tidende, a conservative paper then edited by Harald Alfstad. The unidentified reviewer found the book amusing, especially "to us who have doubts about the ability of pressing forward socially with pure democracy." It was even more entertaining "because of the facility with which Hamsun tumbles the Yankees around with his facile pen." But he used shirt-sleeve methods while despising Americans for walking in shirt sleeves on warm days. Hamsun, pharasaical in his attitude toward American Christianity, should have sought the more profound things of life, not the externals. Nevertheless, a talented author had risen on the literary horizon. He would gain a wide circle of readers if he could refrain from disturbing their wonted thought patterns and beliefs. {31}

Social-Demokraten, (Christiania), Tønsbergs Blad, and Dagbladet also commented upon Hamsun’s slanted version of American cultural life. In Social-Demokraten an extended [193] review was reprinted from Dansk Social-Demokrat of Copenhagen. The anonymous writer suggested that Hamsun deliberately bandied exaggerations about, but he agreed with him in most matters. The book was acceptable, with one important exception. Hamsun overlooked the Socialist party in the United States, a party which had abandoned the self-righteous dance and promised enlightenment under America’s "dark sky." Danish-born Carl Jeppesen, editor of Norway’s Social-Demokraten, took no part in this discussion. His few editorials of 1889 on American affairs were limited to the labor movement, agitation for an eight-hour day, and the economic philosophy of Henry George. Gerhard Gløersen of Tønsbergs Blad confined his remarks on Hamsun to a few lines. He had no quarrel with the young author’s degrading picture of America. "Very unprejudiced" was his over-all judgment of Hamsun. {32}

Hamsun’s presentation of the American scene met with strong rebuttal in Dagbladet, but not at the hands of Holst. The worthy opponent was Hans Tambs Lyche, whose life and interests are deftly portrayed by the late Paul Knaplund. Lyche, a graduate of the technical school in Christiania, arrived in Chicago in 1880. Influenced strongly by Unitarianism, with its rational and intellectual appeal, he began theological studies in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Eventually he served congregations in Janesville, Wisconsin, and Warwick, Massachusetts, associating almost exclusively with Americans of Anglo-Saxon heritage. Economic pressure to support a wife and a growing family forced him to return to railroad engineering and land surveying in the West. {33}

In 1892 Lyche returned to Norway, where he still held citizenship. Meanwhile he had written a series of letters to Dagbladet in response to Hamsun’s unfavorable appraisal of the United States. Unlike Hamsun, Lyche came to [194] admire Emerson and the Boston intelligentsia. He had great praise for the American press, then antedating William Randolph Hearst and yellow journalism. The cultured visitor from Norway looked on American materialism as a natural consequence of tremendous technological development. Despite America’s wealth, it had created a comprehensive educational system and other cultural institutions. Absence of class distinction and the willingness of Americans to work together for the common good were also commended.

H. Tambs Lyche’s articles of 1891 in Dagbladet refuted Hamsun’s Amerikas aandsliv at many points. Dagbladet published Lyche’s rejoinder in several installments. Lyche first demonstrated that American women, becoming more enlightened with the years, were playing an increasingly important role in public life. A woman Unitarian minister provided his illustration. For over eight years she had conducted two services every Sunday, usually to a full auditorium. In a spacious and well-appointed edifice, where Lyche himself once spoke, she discussed religious and social questions in a forthright manner. Even Hamsun, said Lyche, would have had to admire the audience, composed as it was of men and women of serious mind and striking appearance. Contrary to Hamsun’s contention that America lacked artistic appreciation, beautiful pictures graced the sanctuary walls. It was a congregation of sound personalities. They were childlike souls with compassion for all humankind. Theirs was no stale religion. They were the people who counted in American enterprise. {34}

In two installments on the history of Plymouth Rock, Lyche named Boston as the Paris of the New World. It was more outstanding than Paris in matters of intellect and morals. Foreigners seemed to think that in America everything was materialistic and prosaic. On the contrary, the Plymouth colonists had laid the groundwork of a new democratic world civilization. Where the highest culture prevailed, [195] the incidence of crime and divorce would be the lowest, as in Massachusetts. Lyche would not claim much for the disrupted American South or for the feuding mountain folk.

In a later article in Dagbladet Lyche selected Hamsun’s "dark sky" as a point of departure. He described the Glen Echo Chautauqua camp near Washington, D.C., as symbolic of a wholesome adult education movement. Throngs of people congregated in such tent cities to hear noted lecturers speak on a wide range of topics. There was no dark sky, thanks to Yankee energy and Yankee pluck. Hamsun had an opportunity to reply to this encomium. He did not hold Hoist responsible for his own views and requested Morgenbladet and Vestlands-Posten to take notice of that statement. He had once admired Lyche. An early Lyche essay on the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tze had impressed him most favorably. But Hamsun had to inform Norwegian readers that some Chautauqua speakers were unscholarly Civil War generals. There was a Mexican plant, the scent of which was said to induce forgetfulness. Lyche had smelled too long of America and had forsaken his first love, Europe. He had become Americanized. His recent articles were written hastily. Hamsun concluded by appealing to Hoist to limit the number of unimportant items from the United States in his paper. There was no need to import news of the recurrent railroad accidents. Europe had enough of its own, and they were of greater reader interest. Verdens Gang, he thought, displayed better balance in its coverage of American news.

An examination of Ragnar Vold’s excellent inside story of Dagbladet suggests that the Hoist-Hamsun relationship did not suffer from Hamsun’s cavalier remarks about the land across the sea. In 1899 a special Christmas Eve number of the paper carried illustrated stories by Hamsun and others. When Hunger was published, Dagbladet had exulted, "A new personality and a new style in literature!" A Christmas issue of 1890 represented a liberal position, with contributions from many young authors, including Hamsun. But [196] Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson’s star was rising. Hamsun’s time had not yet come. {35}

Other Norwegian journals were seemingly indifferent; they carried no reviews of Hamsun. Some printed little news from America in 1889, save reports of murders and lynchings, high prices, lawlessness, or a sensational attempt to navigate Niagara Falls in a barrel. Of more interest to readers were the Johnstown flood, Thomas A. Edison’s latest inventions, and the admission to the Union of new states in the Scandinavian Northwest: North and South Dakota, Montana, and Washington. Of course there were America letters. But even newspapers which regularly featured book reviews had nothing to say of Hamsun. {36}

Perhaps the most complete and understanding commentary on Amerikas aandsliv was that of the author’s son Tore. A rather extended analysis of his remarks may be appropriate. Knut Hamsun wrote bitterly of American culture and customs, said Tore Hamsun, but at a desperate time in his life. Young and immoderate, he apparently fancied exaggeration for the sake of dramatic effect. Philip Armour’s gift was not an exception. Knut Hamsun himself spoke of the helpfulness of Americans. He once solicited contributions of books for a Norwegian-American community library and was more than satisfied with the response. Neighbors, he pointed out, would hasten to the aid of a farmer in distress, even build a house for him after a fire. "Until I die," he once said, "I shall value what I learned during my two stays, and I am not without pleasant memories therefrom. It is concerning the entire nation that I speak, and of American life." {37}

Tore Hamsun continued that his father was not comfortable with the majority. He sought and admired the few who [197] struggled for a cause, and they might be socialists or anarchists. The execution of the Haymarket demonstrators was a blot on the system of American freedom for which an intellectually obtuse democracy was responsible. Americans who shouted for death knew nothing about anarchism as a scientific teaching. It was sufficient for them that the men in the Haymarket affair were accused of bomb throwing; in this instance freedom was no better than medieval despotism. If an author favored monarchy he was considered dangerous.

Hamsun described American literature as poor in talent. Mark Twain was an exception. Bits of Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Bret Harte were tolerable. Ham-sun attacked Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson. As poetic writing, Leaves of Grass was discordant. Whitman had poems that were overwhelming in their lack of readability. Emerson was acceptable only if one allowed for his being an American and did not expect too much. The best American artists traveled to Europe for inspiration and technical training. Hamsun scoffed at their designing, using as an example the Washington Monument, which, save for its height of 555 feet, hadn’t the slightest artistic appeal. What he appreciated, if restrainedly, was American journalism, which was daring and close to life, and paintings of nature scenes.

According to Tore, his father’s intention was not to present an objective analysis of American society and culture, but to employ a consciously subjective approach. Amerikas aandsliv was built, not upon a scientific foundation, but upon personal experience. Hamsun’s determination was to show the foibles of American democracy, which he believed laid a dead hand upon the country’s spiritual being. He wanted to see room for an elite class. There was a lack of noble souls. Hamsun’s report was generally well received, in Tore’s opinion. Norway’s foremost young critic, Carl Nærup, praised it as witty and fresh, devoid of the usual banalities. He was [198] surprised that the book did not meet with greater resentment.

In a letter to Erik Frydenlund in Valdres, Hamsun revealed that he planned to continue with the remainder of his touching novel, Hunger. Only part of it had appeared in Ny Jord. Spring was affecting his nerves again, he complained. He couldn’t stand any distraction, and would strike matches on the underside of a table, out of sight. Bjørnson had invited him to visit him at Aulestad for a year! Hamsun politely declined and returned to Copenhagen, where he knew that he could concentrate upon his work. On Christmas Eve, 1889, he was the guest of Georg Brandes, in a house with Persian rugs! In the spring of 1890 Hunger came out in complete form. At thirty-one, Hamsun had arrived. He felt himself, however, to be primarily a poet, not a novelist. He again wrote Frydenlund, saying that he expected a second edition of his rendition of America’s intellectual life to be published, to satisfy the demand. He also said that Brandes had told him frankly that Hunger was a monotonous piece of writing. Hamsun was offended and assured Brandes that he was mistaken. {38}

It may be pertinent to quote Tore Hamsun on the relationship between his father and Ole Thommessen, editor of Verdens Gang. From his youth, Hamsun had been influenced by Verdens Gang and Thommessen’s journalistic style. The same editor later took him to task, after Hamsun had lectured in Christiania. Bjørnson and Thommessen did not get along either. Bjørnson charged that Thommessen was not so liberal as he claimed to be. Hamsun, too, came to believe Thommessen occasionally acted from dishonest motives. {39}

In Redaktør Lynge (Editor Lynge) , Hamsun chose Thommessen as his central character. Hamsun was satirical, cold, and determined, according to Tore. When he was writing this novel, he was in poor health and distressing financial [199] circumstances. He was so despondent from an attack of influenza that he confided to Frydenlund that his nerves jumped even with the striking of a clock. Redaktør Lynge met with a varied response. The Brandes brothers, Edvard and Georg, were not favorable at the time. Thommessen, at whom the novel was directed, referred it to Arne Garborg for review in Verdens Gang. Garborg obliged, not by discussing the theme of the work but by concentrating, perhaps wisely, on Hamsun’s competent style. Nils Kjær, the gifted young literary critic of Dagbladet, hailed this most recent creation of Hamsun’s, thereby relieving Lars Hoist from passing judgment. The book had a good sale, enabling its author to seek rest in Paris. {40}

The name of Knut Hamsun came to world-wide attention in 1920 when he was awarded the coveted Nobel prize for literature. The occasion prompted many critics, including Americans, to survey Hamsun’s life and works. Markens grøde (usually translated Growth of the Soil, although some prefer "The Earth’s Increase" as more accurate), considered his prize-winning novel, inspired special comment. Hamsun was fortunate that thirty years had passed since his scathing commentary on American culture had appeared, though some remembered it. American journals generally assumed a congratulatory tone, while reserving judgment as to the wisdom of the Nobel committee’s choice. A few comments will serve to illustrate.

Julius Moritzen, writing for Bookman, stated that Ham-sun’s Amerikas aandsliv should "not be taken too seriously, impressionistic as it is and reflecting a mood that harbored some real or imaginary grievance." Yet it contained "much of real merit." If Hamsun failed to understand and appreciate America it was because a true son of the Scandinavian North could not forsake his first love.{41} [200]

Edwin Bjørkman, in the New Republic, concentrated mainly on Hunger rather than Growth of the Soil in his survey. His observations were peripheral so far as Hamsun’s critique of America was concerned, but they were none the less illuminating. "Hamsun pitted his ambitions," said Bjørkman, "against the indifference of Christiania and then of Chicago. The result was a defeat that seemed the more bitter because it looked like punishment incurred by straying after false gods." He said that Hamsun denounced the very principle of urbanity. He belonged to the country, not the city. For that reason Redaktor Lynge, with its setting in the capital, was one of his poorer books. "He returned to the country, so to speak, and tried from there to strike at what he could reach of the ever expanding, ever devouring city. After that the city, like the sea, is always found in the distance." Hamsun despised professional folk for their rootlessness. To him the only true home was a piece of ground owned continuously by successive generations. {42}

Less favorable to the prize award of 1 920 were some American newspapers. Two New York journals were quoted by the Literary Digest. The World, deploring the recognition of Hamsun, declared, "Evidently if Americans are to keep up with the times they must pay more attention to the Scandinavian languages or put the translators to work." The Evening Post considered Thomas Hardy more worthy. Only one Englishman, Rudyard Kipling, had as yet won the approval of the Nobel committee, it pointed out. Previous selections had been "authors with a wide continental reputation rather than those most esteemed by their own compatriots." A more generous point of view was expressed by Allen Wilson Porterfield, literary critic for the Nation, who said, "The European press is unanimous in its approval." {43} [201]

Edwin Bjørkman, in his introduction to the American edition of Hunger, said that Amerikas aandsliv, "a masterpiece of distorted criticism," as one Norwegian reviewer phrased it, no longer was acceptable to the novelist himself. On the flyleaf of Bjørkman’s autographed copy were these words: "A youthful work. It has ceased to represent my opinion of America. May 28, 1903. Knut Hamsun." In the light of this retraction it may be assumed that had Hamsun been older and more cautious in his judgments during his American visits, he might have idealized many an obscure toiler on Norwegian farms in the Middle West, as he did Isak, the hero of his great epic, Growth of the Soil. The thought is not an original one. Hanna Astrup Larsen observed in her biography of Hamsun that the fictional Isak whom he placed in Nordland was the hero he had failed to find in the Red River Valley of North Dakota in his youth. {44}

Apparently Hamsun’s youthful indiscretion of 1889 did him no permanent damage. Evidence shows that he was popular in his homeland and elsewhere in Europe in the 1920’s. In Bjørkman’s words, Hamsun’s reputation took "deepest roots in Russia, where several editions of his collected works appeared" and where he was called "the equal of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky." Norwegians honored Hamsun in 1929 in a Festskrift marking his seventy-fifth birthday. In it a number of literary lights paid tribute, among them John Galsworthy, Thomas Mann, Thomas Masaryk, Maxim Gorky, Stefan Zweig, and H. G. Wells. It was Wells who had remarked, upon reading Growth of the Soil, "I do not know how to express the admiration I feel for this wonderful book without seeming to be extravagant. One of the very greatest novels I have ever read." {45}

All in all, Hamsun’s bill of particulars, charged to the [202] United States, listed items that not only provoked thought but also searched the soul. The cheerless skies reflected in Hamsun’s desolate panorama were attributed to various weaknesses in the fiber and functioning of the American cultural body. The intellectual desert displayed itself in ignorance, mob judgment, mass hysteria, rootlessness, and a general cultural void. American nationalism was a perverted patriotism which insulted the immigrant and rarely sought or acknowledged any good in his European background. Other indictments pertained to political corruption and excessive crime, and to sensational newspaper reporting of them. There was also the pursuit of happiness, sanctioned by the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, encouraging all too often the happiness of pursuit, with the attendant bustle and madness to possess this world’s goods. False piety and weak family ties rounded out the list.

If a perusal of a score of Norwegian journals for the year 1889 uncovers no massive response, quantitatively speaking, to Hamsun’s diatribe, it at least provides material for appraisal of Norwegian thought not only on Hamsun’s views but on America itself. Some editors and critics, with unconcealed glee, found support in Hamsun. In this category were Bætzmann of Aftenposten, Alfstad of Drammens Tidende, and Gløersen of Tønsbergs Blad, whose views ranged from outright amusement to serious doubts about the workability of political democracy. They found pleasure, like the avid readers of Henry L. Mencken during the 1920’s, in debunking American practices and institutions. Who would argue that they were entirely in error? Many Americans of today know that in the final quarter of the nineteenth century by and large the best brains of the nation were channeled not into politics but into private enterprise.

Other journalists accepted Hamsun’s derogatory attitude more restrainedly and with little satisfaction. They disagreed with him on certain points. Georg Brandes thought Hamsun unappreciative and guilty of blanket criticisms. Drammens [203] Tidende called him hypocritical. Jeppesen, the Social Democrat, agreed with Dansk Social-Demokrat in charging Hamsun with exaggeration, while conceding that in most matters Hamsun had the better of the argument. In Lars Holst’s Dagbladet the young author’s standing was not in jeopardy. Moderate critics envisaged a promising if not brilliant future for the creator of the two works, Hunger and Amerikas aandsliv. Their gripping literary style and penetrating intellectual quality won widespread admiration from experts conversant with the Norwegian language.

A final observation or two will complete this evaluation. Hamsun touched the imperfections of American society and of western civilization as a whole. In Hunger he exposed the harshness and indifference of his own capital city, Christiania, where he spent a miserable year in poverty. As Hamsun himself stated, his distortions of the American scene, the rash utterances of a youth still in his twenties, were not lasting impressions. Tore Hamsun was convinced that his father valued his experiences in America and carried many pleasant memories with him. Hamsun’s denunciation of the New World was never translated into English. Yet, had an American edition been published, it could surely not have been written off simply as a malicious portrayal. Granted that profundity and balance in judgment were to increase as Hamsun grew older, there were shrewd and penetrating insights interspersed among his explosive words of 1889.


<1> Hanna Astrup Larsen, Knut Hamsun, 20 (New York, 1922).

<2> Tore Hamsun, Knut Hamsun, 7-24 (Oslo, 1959). See also Theodore Jorgenson, History of Norwegian Literature, 390 (New York, 1933); Larsen, Knut Hamsun, 12—15. The name of Christiania was changed to Oslo on January 1, 1925.

<3> Tore Hamsun, Knut Hamsun, 24—40. Lars Oftedal founded Stavanger Aftenblad, a low-church journal, in 1893. In 1891 he had lost his position as a state-church pastor; Per Thomsen, "Lars Oftedal," in Bernt Hjejle and Håkon Stangerup, eds., Store norske journalister, 40—47 (Copenhagen, 1957); Per Thomsen, present editor of Stavanger Aftenblad, to the author, February 20, 1964.

<4> Tore Hamsun, Knut Hamsun, 44—46.

<5> Jorgenson, Norwegian Literature, 393; Tore Hamsun, Knut Hamsun, 45, 53—56, 61. Knut Hamsun (as Knut Pedersen Hamsund) published Et gjensyn (A Meeting Again) in Bodø in 1878. Later he became simply Knut Pedersen. The name changes are discussed in Harald Naess, "Knut Hamsun and Rasmus Anderson," in Carl F. Bayerschmidt and Erik J. Friis, eds., Scandinavian Studies: Essay: Presented to Henry Goddard Leach, 269—277 (Seattle, 1965). According to Naess, Bjørnson advised Hamsun to drop the name Pedersen, but Anderson was the one who succeeded in getting him to do so. Hamsun disputed the influence of Anderson, who he thought was trying to dominate him. The change did occur, however, in the United States.

<6> Tore Hamsun, Knut Hamsun, 62. Jorgenson indicates that the money was furnished by the father of Frøis Frøisland, the editor; Norwegian Literature, 394. For Hamsun’s literary activities during his first visit to the United States, see John T. Flanagan, "Knut Hamsun’s Early Years in the Northwest," in Minnesota History, 20:397—412 (December, 1939). See also Hamsun to Anderson, April 4, 1883, quoted in Lloyd Hustvedt, Rasmus Bjørn Anderson: Pioneer Scholar, 174 (Northfield, 1966).

<7> Tore Hamsun, Knut Hamsun, 73; Hustvedt, Rasmus Bjørn Anderson, 175.

<8> Hustvedt, Rasmus Bjørn Anderson, 175.

<9> Tore Hamsun, Knut Hamsun, 74—80.

<10> Tore Hamsun, Knut Hamsun. 81—84; no date is given for Hamsun’s letter to Dagbladet. See also Flanagan, in Minnesota History, 20:403.

<11> Tore Hamsun, Knut Hamsun, 85.

<12> Tore Hamsun, Knut Hamsun, 86, 89. Hanna Astrup Larsen believes that Norwegian Americans were quick to resent any attack upon their adopted country; Knut Hamsun, 23. Carl G. O. Hansen attended the lecture; Hansen, My Minneapolis, 107 (Minneapolis, 1955). Hamsun tells of his farm experience in "The Prairie," in Living Age, 310:549 (August 27, 1921).

<13> Tore Hamsun, Knut Hamsun, 89—91. Anderson says he was responsible only for closing the American legation to Hamsun; Life Story of Rasmus B. Anderson, 317 (Madison, Wisconsin, 1917); see also Hustvedt, Rasmus Bjørn Anderson, 176. Haymarket Square, in Chicago, was the scene of a riot that occurred on May 4, 1886; a bomb thrown by an unknown person killed one man and injured more than sixty. In the ensuing turmoil, six police were killed and many persons injured. Four men were hanged as a result of the crime; Henry David, The History of the Haymarket Affair, 194 (New York, 1957).

<14> Tore Hamsun, Knut Hamsun, 93—95. Hamsun’s novel Sult came out in New York in 1921 as Hunger. It was translated by George Egerton.

<15> Tore Hamsun, Knut Hamsun, 96. Fra det moderne Amerikas aandsliv (Copenhagen, 1889) was never translated into English, and in later years Hamsun did not wish it disseminated.

<16> Asbjørn Olavson, "Er emigrationen til skade for vort land?" in Tromsø Stiftstidende, August 18, 1888; "Mormonisms vederstyggeligheder avsløret," in Tromsø Stiftstidende, Sundays and Thursdays, June 10-July 8, 1888. The latter articles were written by M. G. Montgomery, a Minneapolis clergyman, and translated into Norwegian by Pastor P. C. Tranberg of Chicago. For Arctander’s lecture, see Tromsø Stiftstidende, September 20, 1888. It is discussed by Hansen in My Minneapolis, 140.

<17> Stavanger og Adresseavis, October 29, November 2, 1888. Only four anarchists actually were hanged. See ante, note 13.

<18> Morgenbladet (Christiania), October 24, 1888, July 17, 1889. In May, 1856, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts had denounced Andrew P. Butler of South Carolina in an antislavery speech. Subsequently, Preston Brooks, member of the House from South Carolina and a nephew of Butler, beat Sumner unconscious with a cane.

<19> Vestlands-Posten (Stavanger), January 28, 1889. The letter, signed "N.R.T." filled three columns.

<20> Amerikas aandsliv, 1-8.

<21> Amerikas aandsliv, 10—18, 48.

<22> Amerikas aandsliv, 178.

<23> Amerikas aandsliv, 183—187. In fact, seven policemen died, and many more

were wounded. Albert Parsons, editor of an anarchist paper, was executed as a result of the riot.

<24> Amerikas aandsliv, 187—1 93.

<25> Amerikas aandsliv, 195—206.

<26> Amerikas aandsliv, 207—217.

<27> Amerikas aandsliv, 219—222.

<28> Amerikas aandsliv, 228—230.

<29> Aftenposten (Christiania),May 10,1889.

<30> Knut Hamsun to Erik Frydenlund, quoted without date in Tore Hamsun, Knut Hamsun, 101; Verdens Gang (Christiania) ,May 9, 1889.

<31> Drammens Tidende, June 30, 1889.

<32> Social Demokraten (Christiania), January 17, July 4, 7, 18, 21, 1889; Tønsbergs Blad. May IS, 1889.

<33> Paul Knaplund, "Nork talsmann for Amerika," in Nordmanns-Forbundet, 57:119—121 (June, 1934).

<34> Dagbladet, July 12,21,22, 28, August 2, 1891,

<35> Ragnar Vold, Dagbladet i tigerstaden (Dagbladet in the Tiger City), 315— 321 (Oslo, 1949) . The Tiger City was Christiania.

<36> Among these were Stavanger Amstidende og Adresseavis, Bergensposten, Varden (Skien), Den Vestlandske Tidende (Arendal), and Fædrelandsvennen (Kristiansand)

<37> See Tore Hamsun, Knut Hamsun, 85—99.

<38> Tore Hamsun, Knut Hamsun, 101—105.

<39> Tore Hamsun, Knut Hamsun, 127—129.

<40> Tore Hamsun, Knut Hamsun, 130. Redaktør Lynge was published in Copenhagen in 1893. It was never issued in English.

<41> Julius Moritzen, "Knut Hamsun in Life and Letters," in Bookman, 52:437— 441 (January, 1921).

<42> Edwin Bjørkman, "Knut Hamsun: From Hunger to Harvest," in New Republic, 26: 195—197 (April 13, 1921).

<43> "The Horse-Car Conductor Who Wins the Nobel Prize," in Literary Digest, 67:35 (November 20, 1920); Allen Wilson Porterfield, "Knut Hamsun," in Nation, 111:652 (December 8, 1920).

<44> Knut Hamsun, Hunger, vi, vii (New York, 1921); Larsen, Knut Hamsun, 21.

<45> Sigurd Hoel, "Knut Hamsun og Amerika," in Knut Hamsun: Festskrift til 70 aarsdagen; 4 August 1929, 84—97 (Oslo, 1929). In 1889, Hoel says, Hamsun wrote as a rebel, in 1928 as a father to an impatient son. See also Einar Skavlan’s anniversary study, Knut Hamsun (Oslo, 1929).

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Knut Hamsun's Timeline

August 4, 1859
Garmostrædet, Garmo, Lom, Oppland, Norway
August 28, 1859
Garmo, Lom, Oppland, Norway
October 4, 1874
Age 15
Lom, Oppland, Norway
May 16, 1898
Age 38
Johanneskirken, Oslo, Norway
August 15, 1902
Age 43
Kristiania (Oslo), Norway
Age 46
June 25, 1909
Age 49
Oslo byfogd, Oslo, Norway
March 6, 1912
Age 52
Skogheim, Hamarøy, Nordland, Norway
May 3, 1914
Age 54
Skogheim, Hamarøy, Nordland, Norway
October 23, 1915
Age 56
Skogheim, Hamarøy, Nordland, Norge