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Thread: Knut Hamsun

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    Knut Hamsun

    Nordland - A Knut Hamsun Resource Page

    He is one of the great writers of the twentieth century, though his best works were written before 1900. He is one of the most influential European novelists of the last hundred years, yet he is not well known in the United States. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the most important Norwegian author since Ibsen, he is often ignored in his own country. He is Knut Hamsun -- novelist of genius, radical individualist, supporter of Hitler, Quisling, and the Nazi occupation of Norway during World War II.

    Hamsun, in Mysteries, Pan, and Hunger, wrote three of the greatest novels of the late nineteenth century, novels which created a new literary style and which delineated a new literary hero: the alienated loner. In Growth of the Soil (1917), he produced an epic agrarian novel that describes, with Biblical power, the attraction and honesty of working with the land. His work was widely admired in the first half of the twentieth century, with writers as diverse as Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, and Henry Miller citing Hamsun's work as being of special importance and influence. Isaac Bashevis Singer, in his essay "Knut Hamsun, Artist of Skepticism" goes so far as to claim that "the whole modern school of fiction in the twentieth century stems from Hamsun."

    Hamsun's reputation waned rapidly following World War II. Charged with treason for his support of the Norwegian Nazi Party (Nasjonal Samling), his works went out of favor in Norway and elsewhere. As with other writers who supported the Axis powers -- Ezra Pound, for example -- Hamsun's work has had a difficult time regaining the prominence it enjoyed before the war.

    This site provides information on Hamsun's life and work, along with a list of links to other sites on the internet with related information.

    Lík börn leika best.

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    :eek Knut Hamsun!!!!!!!!

    Damn, my grandfather's got all of them, some in first version, some there even from auctions!!!
    -In kalte Schatten versunken... /Germaniens Volk erstarrt / Gefroren von Lügen / In denen die Welt verharrt-
    -Die alte Seele trauernd und verlassen / Verblassend in einer erklärbaren Welt / Schwebend in einem Dunst der Wehmut / Ein Schrei der nur unmerklich gellt-
    -Auch ich verspüre Demut / Vor dem alten Geiste der Ahnen / Wird es mir vergönnt sein / Gen Walhalla aufzufahren?-

    (Heimdalls Wacht, In kalte Schatten versunken, stanzas 4-6)

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    What others have said about Hamsun:

    - Hamsun has tought me to write. (Ernest Hemingway).

    - Jeg anser ham for at være et af tidens største mennesker. (Albert Einstein) (I consider him to be one of the greatest men of our time.)

    - You are among the greatest of contemporary writers (H. G. Wells)

    - Der er snart ikke mange forfattere man lengere kan tage seriøst, men - Tak, heldigvis, for at Hamsun endnu lever og skriver. (Hermann Hesse) (You can hardly take any authors seriously these days, but - Thank God Hamsun is still alive and writes.)

    - Endelig har jeg fundet et udenlandsk geni, som jeg kan læse på hans eget modersmål. (Ulex) (Finally I have discovered a foreign genius whose works I am able to read in his own language.)

  4. #4

    Reorienting Hamsun

    Reorienting Hamsun: or why Glahn left Norway for India.

    Darren C. Zook

    In:Scandinavian Studies, Summer 2005 v77 i2 p217(24)
    IN THE STUDY of the relationship between orientalism, imperialism, and modern literary culture, Scandinavia, let alone Norway, is not usually the first place that comes to mind. Certainly one could assemble a number of seemingly random references to imperial or "exotic" moments that appear in Scandinavian history and literature. In the second volume of Sigrid Undset's epic trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter entitled Husfrue [The Wife], for instance, Undset depicts the medieval Norwegian frontier as a place inhabited by "Finnefolket og de andre halvville folkene" (378) [Finns and the other half-wild peoples] for whom "det gjaldt at ... skjonte vi var herrer" (407) [it was important to understand ... that the Norwegians were the masters]. Similarly, moments of "discovering" exotic peoples and marvelous new landscapes can be found in sources ranging from the writings of Scandinavian missionaries abroad to the settlers of New Sweden, Sweden's short-lived colonial enterprise in early America (see Schlyter; Hale; Birkeli; Johnston; Aberg; Hoffecker). One could even generalize this to the entire Scandinavian settler experience in America, an experience that would include everything from the Norwegian diaspora into the mid-western prairies to the "quaint," pseudo-traditional Danish town of Solvang in southern California (see Linde-Laursen).

    But what might at first appear to be random or minor references in Scandinavian literature to orientalist themes or colonial venues may in fact not be so random or so minor after all. A closer look at one particular work and its author--Knut Hamsun and the modernist novel Pan--will reveal that orientalist visions and fantasies, replete with subtle metaphors of imperialist power and the exotic sexualities of colonized landscapes, and may in fact play an intentional and important role in the modern literature of Norway and also of other Scandinavian countries. Specifically, a key element in the plot of Hamsun's novel involves a relocation of the action to India; this shift in venue, I argue, is not merely a convenient or random change of scenery, but rather an intentional and significant element in the complex construction of the novel. The relocation to India highlights Hamsun's "orientalization" of the Norwegian Nordland. In the second part of this paper, I argue that the orientalist and colonialist elements of Pan also add another layer of understanding in the complex evolution of Hamsun's controversial political views.

    Knut Hamsun's novel Pan: Av loitnant Thomas Glahns papirer [Pan: From the Papers of Lieutenant Thomas Glahn] is composed of two parts. (1) The first part, which makes up the main narrative portion of the text, details the strange and complex events of Thomas Glahn's stay in the magical landscape of northern Norway (the Nordland). The narrative is written in first person by Glahn himself and is written as a recollection two years after his long summer in the Nordland. Though Glahn is a classic example of the unreliable narrator, we can at least surmise the basic outlines of the story. Glahn lives alone in a hut in the forest wilderness, yet near to the local fishing community of Sirilund. There he falls in love with Edvarda, the daughter of Mack, a powerful tradesman in Sirilund and yet finds himself quickly drawn into a complicated series of adventures and conflicts that ends with his losing Edvarda to a rival suitor (a baron from Finland) and his inadvertent complicity in the killing of Eva, a woman who is Mack's mistress but whom Glahn has pursued to be a mistress of his own. With the loss of Edvarda and the loss of Eva, who is killed in an accident caused jointly by the actions of Mack and Glahn at the departure of the Finnish baron, Glahn decides to leave Nordland.
    The second part of the novel, entitled "Glahns dod: Et Papir fra 1861" [Glahn's death: A Paper from 1861], takes place two years later, when we find Glahn living in India with a fellow hunter. The narrative voice changes greatly in tone and style, and it is no longer Glahn who is narrating the events of the story but Glahn's fellow hunter. Once again, it seems, Glahn has found himself in, or perhaps actively created, a series of complicated entanglements fueled by jealous rivalries and power struggles, all of which reach their dramatic conclusion with the shooting death of Glahn at the hands of his rival and fellow hunter.
    This second part of the novel has generated considerable controversy not only in terms of its general meaning, but also in terms its structural function within the novel. "Glahns dod" was published as a short story a year before the appearance of Pan, and the main narrative of Pan seems to have been written as a sort of "prequel" and as an elaboration on the character of Glahn, perhaps to explain the darker motives for his behavior in India (Hamsun, "Glahns dod"). Many analysts, however, point to the irony that the main narrative of Pan not only stands complete as it is, but also in terms of structure, style, and complexity is far superior to "Glahns dod" a point aptly summarized by Rolf Vige's comment that "Glahns dod" after the main narrative was like "saft-og-vann etter champagne" (73) [watered-down fruit juice after champagne]. Yet while some have been dismissive of the epilogue as a lapse in artistic discretion by Hamsun or as a somewhat contrived afterthought to the "real" narrative of Pan, other analysts have argued that upon further reflection "Glahns dod" does indeed hold up as an integral part of the novel. (2)

    Some of these make this argument on the grounds of the parallel structure and character-depictions between the two parts of the novel; that is, though the literary styles of each part are quite distinct (justifiably so in this perspective, since the narrators are different), the jealous rivalries, erotic interludes, and dramatic events in both Nordland and in India show a carefully crafted and intentional similarity (Mazor). Others argue this point from the larger perspective of Hamsun's literary catalogue, pointing to similar lyrical wizardry in other of Hamsun's works or to the recurrent theme in many of his works on the powers of artistic creation and the desire of the artist to control and harness such powers (Seiler; Sjavik; Tiemroth). One of the more intriguing readings of Pan and of the controversy of "Glahns dod" is offered by Alfred Turco, who argues that "Glahns dod" is an intentional "mystery" for the reader to solve; Turco proposes that Glahn has in fact written both parts of the novel and faked his own death as one last act of emotional cruelty towards Edvarda (who, according to "Glahns dod" is now free to marry again and has in fact written to Glahn to say so). This reading combines internal similarities (Edvarda asks Glahn for his dog Aesop as a sentimental reminder of their attachment, so Glahn kills his dog Aesop and sends the corpse to Edvarda just before he leaves Nordland) with external ones (Glahn is mentioned as still being alive in a later Hamsun novel Rosa [1908]) to make the case for the aesthetic complement of both parts of the novel.

    My point here, however, is not to revisit this rich controversy directly or to make a partisan argument for whether or not Glahn is the "real" author of the second part of the novel. Rather, it is to take the argument in an entirely different direction by situating Pan in a literary-historical context that shows how Hamsun's novel is imbued with orientalist motifs and in turn how Hamsun's negotiations of these motifs complicate and enrich the themes and events of the novel. Put differently, I am not so much interested in who Glahn is or whether he wrote his own literary obituary as in what Glahn does, where he goes, and why he goes there. After establishing an "orientalist" reading of Glahn's motives for his actions and his journeys, the next section will then turn to Hamsun himself to see if the motives of Glahn as narrator can help shed light on the motives of Hamsun as author.

    When we first meet Glahn, he is confessing that he has decided to tell the tale of the events that took place in Nordland two years earlier in 1855, after receiving in the mail "to gronne fjaer i et kronet ark post-papir forseglet med oblat" (5) [two green feathers in a sheet of post-paper embossed with a coronet and sealed with a wafer]. Glahn pleads "jeg vil skrive om det for min fornoielses skyld" (5) [I will write for the sake of my amusement], but his claim is obviously belied by the gusto with which he leaps into the narrative. There are clues right from the start that provide a link between Glahn in India and Glahn in Nordland: most notably, the two "djaevelsk gronne" [devilishly green] feathers. (3) Along with the coronet adorning the letter paper, the two feathers are "exotic" (or at least imperial) emblems of both political and sexual power. As we subsequently learn, the feathers were given to Edvarda by Glahn when he began to court her shortly after his arrival in Nordland. Awkwardly trying to best his "competitor," the doctor who also seeks Edvarda's affections, Glahn insists that Edvarda take the two feathers after both the doctor and Edvarda have commented on their "striking" appearance. In giving them, Glahn proclaims, "lat det vaere en erindring" (47) [let it be a remembrance]. The coronet, too, has a complicated and contentious story behind it involving Edvarda, Glahn, and a rival suitor. Now it is Edvarda who has returned these mementos to Glahn as a sign of her new availability (the Finnish baron to whom she was married has died). Glahn's feigned disinterest on receiving the feathers and the coronet belies his ongoing, all-consuming, and single-minded pursuit of sexual and social power that he tried to leave behind when he left for India. Glahn is eternally seduced by the dream of absolute power and yet continually frustrated by the futility of incomplete dominion. In a sense, Glahn spends his life searching for his utopia: an "empire" of one's own.

    Glahn in fact exists through time in not one but three "empires": Pan's empire (the realm of nature), Nordland, and British-ruled India. All three empires play on similar dualities in the way they are experienced and negotiated--such as primitiveness and civilization, patriarchy and femininity, natives and foreigners, utopianism and disenchantment. What unites the action in all three imperial settings is the attempt to establish authority and mastery through the skillful display of power, either as a literary character (Glahn the hunter or Glahn the seducer) or as master of the narrative (Glahn the narrator) (see Kittang, "Jeger"). Pan's empire is both a utopian paradise unspoiled by the encroachment of human civilization as well as a fearful realm of primitiveness characterized by brutal actions and base sexuality. (4) Glahn is both a subject and an insurgent in this realm, at once resisting and mimicking Pan. The link between Pan and Glahn comes through the repeated and self-consuming attempts of each to establish mastery over the other, a power struggle orchestrated to the subtle sound of what Asmund Lien ==calls Pan's "silent laughter." According to Lien, "Sa vel Pans lydlose latter som hans selv-konsumerende attityde kan forstas som en ironisk kommentar til Glahns tanker: a utfolde sin natur som jeger i skogen og som erotiker" (132) [Pan's silent laughter and his self-consuming demeanor can therefore best be understood as an ironic commentary on Glahn's thinking: to display his nature as a hunter in the woods and as an eroticist].

    The power struggle between Glahn and Pan, with Glahn as hunter killing what Pan has created, finds its own simultaneous linkage with Nordland through Glahn's interactions with Edvarda and other townspeople from Sirilund. Glahn lives by himself in an isolated hut, living "primitively" in the woods and yet cannot resist the seduction of "civilization" represented by the fishing village of Sirilund with all its social norms and trappings. Glahn is torn between his erotic impulses that seek immediate gratification (and a patriarchal mastery over the object of his desire) and his need to abide by the normative restraints that require him to "properly" court Edvarda as a lover. (5) His strange and at times bizarre behavior in his moments of social engagement in the town show him to be an awkward insurgent towards and perhaps reluctant imitator of "civilized manners": on a pleasure outing on a boat he inexplicably throws Edvarda's shoe into the water; at a party at Edvarda's house he cruelly torments a lame doctor--who is also a rival suitor for Edvarda's affection--by making him jump over his walking stick; later, in remorse over his shameful treatment of the doctor, he shoots himself in the foot. The attraction between Edvarda and Glahn shows that Glahn is not the only one torn between the two forces of control and submission. (6) Though Glahn is attracted to Edvarda's unusual dark complexion (brune ansigt, morke hulde hud), with her dark, brown hair (brune hals), dark eyebrows (morke oienbryn), and black eyes (hendes blik var ganske sort), Edvarda is in turn both attracted to and unsettled by Glahn's "animal eyes" (dyreblik). (7) Glahn's repeated attempt to master Edvarda are answered back in kind by Edvarda's ripostes which continuously frustrate and humiliate and emasculate Glahn (see Schnurbein). He takes vengeful solace in seducing Eva, both as a weaker replacement for Edvarda and also as a way to get back at Eva's father Mack, who represents power in the village (just as Pan represents mastery in nature) and also male power insofar as Mack maintains Eva as his own mistress. The power struggle between Mack and Glahn over the sexual ownership of Eva comes to its tragic conclusion when Glahn sets in motion a series of events, unknowingly with the connivance of Mack. These events conclude with Eva being buried in a landslide of rocks caused by a series of explosions set off by Glahn in a sarcastic display of "honor" at the departure of the Finnish baron.

    There is also another alternative that Glahn creates for the expression of his erotic impulses, one that directly links the empire of Pan with Nordland: Glahn's erotic fantasy-dream of Diderik and Iselin (in chapter 20). In this dream, he easily seduces Iselin and emasculates Diderik and yet seemingly faces no shameful consequences and thus experiences the ecstasy of absolute dominion. This dream explains why, when confessing to Eva the three things he cherishes--"Jeg elsker en kjerlighetsdrom jeg hadde engang, jeg elsker dig og jeg elsker denne plet jord" (95) [I cherish a dream of love I once had, I cherish you, and I cherish this plot of land]--Glahn answers Eva's question about which one he cherishes most by stating simply: "Drommen" [The dream]. The dream is also important for what it says about Nordland as the setting of the novel. Norway's extreme north, with which Hamsun was fascinated, relates to the rest of Norway in a way that resembles the relationship of the metropole to the "edge of empire." The inhabitants (especially the indigenous Sami), for instance, are often admired as worthy equals for their rugged perseverance and yet considered inferior in status for their primitive ways; they are, in essence, Norway's "orientals." It is an area that is somehow Norwegian and yet other-than-Norwegian, where norms are less restrictive, and where one can revel in the natural freedom of uninhibited ecstasy, as in Glahn's dream. At least, that is the fantasy. What it means for Glahn is that he has the desire in essence, to use an orientalist phrase, to "go native."

    And yet, even as he has gone native, Glahn remains a foreigner. In this, however, he is not alone; Nordland, as depicted by Sirilund, is rendered "strange" for all its inhabitants, a site of perpetual dislocation, and everyone seems to be something of a foreigner, or at least different from what would be "comfortably normal." Aside from Glahn's "animal eyes," we have Edvarda's "exotic" looks; the baron who wins Edvarda is from Finland; the doctor who also seeks Edvarda's hand is lame; and so forth. Indeed, Sirilund itself, as a stand-in for Nordland, seems to be a rather mysterious and mystic landscape, populated by strange yet peculiarly familiar people. Ronald Popperwell has pointed out that the landscape of Nordland, as described both by Hamsun (in his letters) and by Glahn (as narrator), is sketched in terms that seem so exoticized as to be inaccurate, mistaking the reality of Nordland with the fantasy of "southern climes" (Popperwell 25). Nearly everything in Nordland seems foreign, and Glahn spends much of his time trying to translate the foreign into the familiar. Rarely if ever successful in this endeavor, he seems to wander around in a state of perpetual disillusionment. (8)

    All of this helps to explain why Glahn would have ended up in India and also why his behavior in India played out the way it did. Rolf Nettum's observation of Glahn's transition to India--that Glahn "har i dypeste forstand forlatt lykkelandet i nord og er kommet inn i en fremmed verden" (263) [had in the deepest sense left the happy land of the north and entered into a strange world]--must by this interpretation be seriously reconsidered: no matter where he was--in Pan's world, in Nordland, or in India--Glahn was in a strange world. At the conclusion of the first part of the narrative of Pan, Glahn reflects on his experiences in Nordland and states: "Ingen sorg trykker mig, jeg laenges bare bort, hvorhen vet jeg ikke, men langt bort, kanske til Afrika, til Indien. For jeg horer skogene og ensomheten til" (125) [No worries press on me, I just long to go away, whereto I do not know, but far away, perhaps to Africa, to India. For I belong to the forests and to solitude]. Here we see repeated one of the common themes of imperialist exploration and orientalist Wanderlust: disenchantment and dislocation at home, a contradictory desire to find belonging in far away places and a realization that "home" exists in no one place. (9)

  5. #5
    The blurring of the distinction between home and away, or between India and Nordland, finds multiple analogs in the characters Glahn encounters in India and the events that transpire there. At the hotel where Glahn is staying in India, for example, the proprietor is "en gammel engelsk halfbreed" (10) (128) [an old English halfbreed], and the headman of the village next to where the hotel is located "skal ha mange koner, nogen er bare ti ar" (129) [is said to have many wives, some just ten years old]. Maggie, a young Tamil girl who becomes the object of Glahn's desire and the source of erotic tension and jealousy between Glahn and his fellow hunter, is also described as a "halv-tamulerinde" [half-Tamil]. (11) At one point, the hunter-narrator even says of Maggie: "Jeg hadde aldrig set en helt hvit pike sa smuk og derfor glemte jeg at hun var tamuler" (137) [I had never seen an all-white girl so beautiful and therefore I forgot she was a Tamil]. These half-way identities highlight the blurring of boundaries and the impossibility of "home" or unitary identities. The headman of the Indian village is reminiscent of Mack back in Sirilund; Eva may not have been ten years old, but she is clearly described as being of childlike simplicity; Edvarda, too, "taler sore et barn" [talks like a child] and "vasker heller ikke sine haender" (81) [doesn't wash her hands], making an obvious parallel with Maggie in India. India itself is described as a place with "fremmede traer" (131) [foreign trees], where fearsome man-eating tigers prey upon and devour local villagers; yet the forests of Nordland were equally strange and "foreign," as we have seen, and also, in their wildness and dark for-boding nature, equally frightening. What unites the two as well is the idea of hunting: the hunt, a paradigmatic symbol of colonial power in India, represents simultaneously the attempt to control nature as well as the need to protect oneself from its unknown threats. (12)

    Glahn's desire to get away from his past by going to India represents another act of self-delusion: in Nordland, the dream is India, and in India, the dream is Nordland. (13) Both are equally foreign and equally distant in his geographic and emotional landscapes.

    The lack of settled identity for Glahn is highlighted not just in the lack of pure origins or the lack of geographic rootedness. It also pervades the interior self and manifests itself in gendered ambivalence. Both in Nordland and in India, Glahn as the hunter of animals and Glahn as the hunter of women exhibits a certain "bestial" and hypermasculine desire for domination and control. Yet Glahn never succeeds in definitively establishing his manhood, just as he never succeeds in finding "home." His claim to belong to solitude is belied by his continual search for companionship; his claim to belong to the forest is belied by his repeated trips to the town or the village; and his claim to a dominating masculinity is belied by his consistently unsuccessful attempts to best his male rivals or suppress the independence of his female targets. Indeed, just as it is no coincidence that Glahn ends up in India after his humiliating and multifaceted defeat in Nordland, it is also no coincidence that when he meets his putative end at the hands of his fellow hunter, he is dressed as a bridegroom, though he is only in the company of another man. (14) Glahn's fellow-hunter seems disoriented by this, struck simultaneously by his awareness of Glahn's "beauty" and by his awareness that Glahn's sartorial strategy was in fact an expression of power insofar as it implies that Glahn's fellow-hunter must therefore be a woman. The fellow-hunter insists, "jeg var intet fruentimmer" (144) [I was no woman] though the defensive claim seems more like overcompensation, and Glahn provokes the supposed fatal shot by calling his fellow-hunter a coward and questioning his ability to do the "manly" thing by shooting him. Not to shoot would have been cowardly, yet in shooting him, Glahn's fellow-hunter still must abide by Glahn's bidding. Glahn's death gives us a succinct conclusion to the seductive pursuit of power: at the one moment when Glahn may finally have the power he desires, he is once again denied its sensuousness because it results in how own demise. (15)

    If Pan, as I have suggested, can be read in some sense as an orientalist text then what does this imply about the author, Knut Hamsun? Certainly Hamsun is not exclusively an orientalist writer, but what evidence might there be to indicate that these orientalist parallels between Nordland and India were intentional? Keeping in mind the usual caveats about the limits of equating literary texts with their authors' intentions or of equating the lives of literary characters with the lives of the authors who created them, there does seem to be compelling evidence both from Hamsun's writings and letters and from the literary-historical archive from the time of Pan's writing and afterward to make the argument that Glahn's passage to India was no accident and no mere random change of venue.
    To begin with, there is Hamsun's well-known intellectual seduction by the ideology of absolute power embedded in fascism, something that led him eventually to act as a mouthpiece of propaganda for the Nazis when they entered Norway. As early as the 1930s, leftist ideologues associated with the Frankfurt school were mining Hamsun's literary texts--and Pan in particular--to find evidence of Hamsun's predilection for fascism and authoritarian forms of power. Leo Lowenthal, for instance, pointed to Hamsun's misanthropy, his anti-intellectualism, his mistrust of "civilization," and his sympathetic depictions of "Aryan" nativism, animalistic power struggles, primitive savagery, and the instinctive use of brute force untempered by reason to detail what he calls the "prehistory" of Hamsun's fascistic tendencies (Lowenthal). In hindsight, such a reading is perhaps excessively overdetermined, a bit too much of reading into the past what is known in the present, but later interpreters and analysts have continued to find links between the struggles for power in Hamsun's fiction and Hamsun's own intellectual and political leanings (see for instance Giersing; Linneberg; Patti). Fascism and orientalism are certainly not the same thing, but they do share a number of significant elements in relation to theories of (racial) purity, the exercise of power and dominion, the ordering of hierarchical gender relations, and the cultivation of ritualistic traditions and their spectacular expression in public display. Fascism also, like orientalism, had a strong relationship with and influence on various writers and schools of literary thought (in the Scandinavian context, see Sorgaard; and Birkeland and Larsen). The influence of fascism on Hamsun and his literary works has been examined elsewhere in detail; here I want instead to explore the combined influence of orientalist, fascist, and even imperialist ideas on the evolution of Hamsun's literary works and political views (on the links between fascism, orientalism, and imperialism, see, among others, Kontje; Smith).

    One significant link in exploring the connection between fascism, orientalism, and imperialism on the one hand and Hamsun's literary texts on the other takes us right back to "Glahns dod": namely, the fantasy and reality of India. India is linked both with German fascism and with Norway insofar as India was considered to be an "Aryan" nation (it was no accident that the Indian swastika ended up on the Nazi flag); the Nazi ideology of the master race was based upon the idea of Aryan purity and superiority; and the theory of the Aryan diaspora posited a Scandinavian origin for the Aryan peoples (Poliakov). There are also a few direct glimpses of India in Hamsun's writings. Hamsun may not have been an orientalist himself, but he certainly moved in circles that included some, most notably Edvard Brandes, a specialist in Indian philology who introduced Hamsun to a number of Sanskrit texts. (16) For some time, at Brandes's suggestion, Hamsun showed an interest in the works of the Indian dramatist Kalidasa (ca. fifth century BCE), whose Sanskrit works seem to have provided a direct influence in the crafting of Hamsun's play Dronning Tamara [Queen Tamara, 1903] (17) (Naess, Knut Hamsuns brev, ltr. 61, 2:208-10). Later, in the 1930s, Hamsun had a major parting of ways with fellow Norwegian intellectuals when he refused to participate in a movement protesting the Nazi government's imprisonment of a leading German pacifist. In his letter of explanation, he asks: "Tror De England vilde akte paa en international Naesevishet om sit Styre i Indien?" (Naess, Knut Hamsuns brev, ltr. 2388, 6:42-4) [Do you think England would be moved to act by international impertinence towards its governance in India?] But here, of course, Hamsun is not necessarily championing the cause of India as much as using India to further his own sympathetic affinity toward the nascent Nazi regime in Germany.

    The prehistory of German fascism is caught up in the history of German orientalism and even German romanticism, both of which influenced Hamsun at various stages of his evolution as a writer. Hamsun's connection with Germany therefore extends beyond his support for fascist politics, and exists through the influence of other intellectual movements such as orientalism. Hamsun may have used the example of India to help justify his stance in favor of fascism, but India remained for Hamsun more of a convenient point of argument than an area of political concern and interest. Like so many other orientalists--like Max Muller and his students in Germany, like Edvard Brandes, (and indeed, much like Glahn in his relationship towards Eva)--Hamsun loved the dream of India, not its reality. The orientalist landscape was always an imagined one with a broad array of characteristic qualities: the people were generally inferior; the women were both sexual and docile; the men were effeminate and therefore "no competition" for the virile and masculine orientalist. For many an orientalist, however, the discord between the fantasy and the reality was a source or perpetual disillusionment.

    Hamsun did not just live in a fantasy world, however, and did travel to a number of foreign countries. Yet in spite of being well traveled, Hamsun professed to be unimpressed with just about every place he went, save for Norway. He was horrified by the backwardness of Turkey, and he reviled America, though he traveled to and spent several years there. (18) That alone might simply qualify as a certain sense of ethnocentrism or even xenophobia, but in a letter to a friend whose wife was writing a book on the other "Indians" of colonial history (that is, Native Americans), he had this to say: "Indianerne er jo simpelthen halvaber. Jeg har vaeret hos de dyr to gange. Gud for lugt!" (Naess, Knut Hamsuns brev, ltr. 60, 1:105-6) [The Indians are nothing but half-ape simpletons. I have twice been among them. My God, what a smell!]. (19) Here, mere xenophobia clearly crosses a line into overt racism.
    Like Thomas Glahn, however, Hamsun existed in multiple "empires" simultaneously, or was caught, at least, as an artist and as an individual, in many overlapping power struggles. In the artistic realm, Hamsun, at the time of writing Pan, was trying to break free of the confines he felt had been set up in Norwegian literature by his contemporaries and predecessors--most notably Henrik Ibsen, but also including Bjornstjerne Bjornson, Jonas Lie, and Alexander Kielland. In a series of lectures he delivered in Norway in the early 1880s and more significantly in an essay published in 1890 entitled "Fra det ubevidste Sjaeleliv" [From the Unconscious Life of the Mind], Hamsun set out to dismantle and repudiate the literary "empire" set up by such luminaries. He did so by lambasting and excoriating their "simplistic" construction of literary characters, which Hamsun felt were facile puppets designed merely to support the various causes or sentiments of the authors. He also had no patience for the seemingly endless descriptions of the minutiae of every day life and action--a requisite norm for realism, but a pointless inanity for Hamsun. (20) Instead, what Hamsun proposed was an exploration of the interior, psychological life of the character--to explore the internal motives, contradictions, and inconsistencies of the unconscious life and to embrace them, by extension, not to resolve them. (21) This new literature was to be Hamsun's literary empire, so to speak, and he alienated more than a few of his contemporaries with his stark denunciations and brash intolerance of almost anything other than, well, himself.

    But here, too, Hamsun's struggle and victory were ambivalent. In some of his other works, he seems to have modified and mollified his criticisms, at least on certain points, and for all the celebration of breaking with the past, Hamsun may have merely traded the shadow of Ibsen for the shadow of Dostoevsky (see, rather idiosyncratically, Nag). Hamsun, like Glahn, seems to have slowly, and at times bitterly, accepted the lesson that true liberation is not really possible. Hamsun faced this lesson not merely in relation to specific individuals and literary luminaries. He also faced it within literary-historical movements that were wellsprings for European literature in general but that were mediated in their own, idiosyncratic way generally within Norway and specifically by Hamsun.

    Perhaps the most significant of these movements was romanticism. There are at least two significant ways in which romanticism acted as an influence, directly or indirectly, on Hamsun's work and on Pan in particular. The first of these concerns not only the centrality of nature motifs in Pan but also the influence of orientalism evident in Hamsun's depiction of Glahn's time in India. Romanticism, with its rhapsodic enthrallment by the fortuitous alignment of ineffable emotions and awe-inspiring landscapes, shared many characteristics with orientalism, a movement which also sought out strange and marvelous landscapes upon which to inscribe ecstatic, mystical, and sensuous human emotions. The blending or blurring of the two resulted in "romantic orientalism," a movement in which foreign and domestic landscapes were similarly, and artificially, constructed to highlight their romantic sentimentality. As Arthur Bradley has pointed out in relation to Shelley's work lawn and Cythnna:

    There is a deeply unheimlich quality to the poem as images and ideas
    that are familiar from contemporary European politics constantly
    turn up in displaced, orientalized forms. In Laon and Cynthna,
    Shelley conflates the signifiers of Ireland with those of Britain,
    France and India under the general sign of the Oriental uprising
    against a colonial regime. (Bradley 124)

    Hamsun's similarly confused rendition of the Norwegian Nordland and India has already been noted in the context of the internal dynamics of Pan, and here it is seen in the context of the larger literary-historical context in which the novel appeared. It should also be noted that, within Norway itself, this process of orientalizing domestic landscapes, or domesticating "oriental" landscapes, was not confined to or initiated by Hamsun's works. Hamsun's contemporary Jonas Lie used a mystical and heavily orientalized classical background for his novel Niobe (1893), and earlier writers such as Johan Nordahl Brun, in his play Zarine (1771), borrowed heavily from French orientalist tropes and locales (on Lie see Aaslestad; on Brim see Andersen).

  6. #6
    The second way that the influence of romanticism can be seen in the construction of Pan follows directly from the first. Romanticism, blended as it was with orientalism, entered Norway's intellectual and literary circles primarily in two forms--one from the British Isles and from Germany. Yet while Norwegian romanticism may have borrowed from both, in many ways it resembled neither; indeed, it is probably more accurate to say that Norwegian romanticists appropriated these preexisting varieties and then actively sought to resist their dominance by putting them to work for uniquely Norwegian purposes. This tendency gave rise to what Nina Witoszek has labeled the "anti-romantic romantics" in Norway. In a somewhat complicated and convoluted process, Norwegian "patriotic" romanticists started with the raw material of Norway's natural landscape--a raw, idyllic material which ironically had been partly constructed by German and British romanticists--and then transformed this into a peculiarly Norwegian type of romanticism which emphasized the nationalism of the Norwegian landscape (including local and native nature-myths and deities), denounced the influence of urban life on the supposed purity of Norway's fields and forests, and paradoxically emphasized the "realism" of Norwegian naturlyrikk. The latter provided many of the Norwegian patriot-romanticists the opportunity to skewer the "ridiculous" German and British romanticists who lived, it was alleged, in an unreal fantasy world composed only of words; in Norway, the exalted descriptions of the Norwegian landscapes were not lyrical fantasies of exoticized landscapes, but rather realistic descriptions of Norway's inimitable natural beauty.

    That is, Norway's exoticism was "authentic."

    All of these different elements and influences return to the question of why Glahn left Norway for India. For all his talk of breaking with the past and of writing a truly radical, modernist Norwegian novel, Hamsun was deeply, if unwittingly, rooted in this patriot-romanticist tradition. The influence is clearly there at the time Hamsun was writing Pan, evident in the events, ruminations and reflections in Pan, particularly in Glahn's longing for solitude in the forest and his weariness at being drawn, ostensibly but disingenuously against his will, into "city life" in Sirilund. Hamsun's later works show similar thematic concerns. It is evident, for instance, in Markens Grade [1917; Growth of the Soil], where Hamsun offers a veritable paean to the life of the agricultural homesteader, replete with praise for the ways of the farmer and the "natural" patriarchal order of the family. As with Pan, many analysts have seen in Growth of the Soil strong corroborative evidence of Hamsun's political conservatism and nascent fascism. Harald Naess has made the argument that such interpretations of Hamsun's works, and in particular of Growth of the Soil, overlook Hamsun's stylistic nuance and more importantly, his subtle irony. Naess argues that this subtle irony indicates that the information presented is not meant to be taken as straightforward and unproblematic, but in fact is in many ways a masterful form of critique of such ideologies ("Knut Hamsun and Growth of the Soil"). Naess's attempt to rehabilitate Hamsun the gifted literateur from Hamsun the unrepentant fascist is perhaps a noble endeavor, and indeed, he succeeds to a certain extent through his own clever and insightful argument. But there is a point at which the use of "irony" cannot mask what was to become a personal and professed admiration for Hitler, for the Nazi regime, and for its ideologies. Irony or not, a certain degree of moral outrage often emerges from a reading of Hamsun's works.

    Yet, morality aside, understanding the roots of Hamsun's fascist sympathies also holds the key to understanding why Glahn left Norway for India. German fascism and Nazism had deep historical roots in German orientalism and romanticism, and the links to India were particularly strong in this regard (see Kontje; and Assayag, esp. ch. 5 "Nazisme"). Myths of the Aryan past, interest in mysticism and the occult, and influence from Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, all came together in a rather jumbled ideological stew that blended Schopenhauer's reverence for nature with Nietzsche's naturally irreverent Obermensch; this peculiar blend of power and passion influenced Hamsun's fiction directly (see in particular Rottem, "Nirvanas bulder"; and in general Trimondi). The patriot-romanticist school, or more accurately, the neo-romantic school of Norwegian nationalism, was also, even in the 1890s, becoming acutely aware of Norway's potential vulnerability at the hands of the European "Great Powers" (see Salmon, Scandinavia and "Norway"). By this time, writers like Ibsen had already seen the proverbial writing on the wall and began to part ways with the narcissism of romantic nationalism (and its potential contribution to international conflict). (22) But for Hamsun, the initial unease at the "passivity" of Norwegian nationalism transformed into a vituperative sense of Anglophobia; Hamsun, along with other Norwegian nationalists, began increasingly to mistrust British motives and sincerity in "protecting" Norway. Sten Sparre Nilson summarizes Hamsun's Anglophobic ideas in particularly stark terms that also reveal elements of Hamsun's misogyny:

    Engelskvennligheten er en helsott blant menneskene. England har
    farget og forfalsket folkenes sinnsliv, har slovet dem og gjort
    dem blinde. I arhundrenes lop har England litt etter litt forstatt
    a tilsvindle seg menneskenes tro og tillit, stikk imot deres egne
    erfaringer og hva de sa med egne oyne. (Nilson 13)

    (The Anglophilia is a fatal disease among the people. England
    has stained and adulterated the mental life of its people, dulled
    them and made them blind. Over the centuries, England has little
    by little been seen to deceive the faith and confidence of its own
    people, directly against their own personal experience and what they
    see with their own eyes.)

    Hamsun's mistrust of and revulsion towards Britain became one more essential factor that ultimately led him to support extremist politics in Germany on the faulty logical grounds that any country or group that opposed Britain's ambitions was a friend and ally of Norwegian nationalism. (23) In reality, he was only trading one imperialism for another.
    Though Hamsun has often been singled out and excoriated for his pro-fascist views, to be fair, it should be pointed out that among his contemporaries he was not the only Norwegian or Scandinavian writer to espouse such views. In Norway, Nils Kjaer admired and shared Hamsun's political conservatism and fascist sympathies by openly praising the tactics and ideological principles of Mussolini (Longum 586). Though Hans Kinck was no fascist, he clearly promoted many of the ideals of the romantic nationalists and their concern for the well-being of the Norwegian "folk" (see Bo, "Hans E. Kinck"). Among the Swedish-speaking elite in Finland, Ornulf Tigerstedt emerged as the leader of a small circle of writers who espoused fascism, racism, and romantic nationalism (24) (see Walta). Many theologians within the Swedish church held pro-Nazi views, and even among those who opposed Nazism, many did so more for pedantic theological reasons within the church than for ethical or political reasons (see Gunnarsson). In other words, whether in relation to nationalism, romanticism, fascism, or orientalism, Hamsun was writing in a somewhat crowded Scandinavian house. (25)

    The general consensus on Hamsun's novel Pan is that it is a carefully constructed work and that both parts of the novel are integral to its structure and content. If that is the case, then the decision to have Thomas Glahn end up in India and to have the entire time in Nordland somehow prefigure his re-location must have been an intentional and integral element of the novel as well. Glahn could have gone anywhere, so the choice of India must have some significance. My argument has been that Glahn's passage to India is meant to enhance the implicit orientalist themes of the novel--the exoticization of "strange" lands and new peoples, the pursuit of despotic power (Glahn's actions and desires suggest the image of the "Oriental despot"), the ambivalence of "home," and the fantasy of sexual license--and to link them with Nordland. This reading of Pan in itself raises a whole set of other questions: for instance, whether the "orient" can be found in Nordland or the Nordland in India, then where exactly is the Orient? If the Orient is everywhere, can there really have been an orientalism in the first place? In any case, there seems to be sufficient evidence in Hamsun's literary-historical archive to support the inclusion of orientalist influences and themes in understanding Pan. At the time of writing Pan and more generally in the evolution of his later literary corpus and controversial political views, Hamsun imbibed and utilized ideas from the complex and intertwined relationship between orientalism, imperialism, romaticism, and fascism.

    Why, then, did Glahn leave Norway for India? India represented the dream, the utopia, or the fantasy of a place where one could reinvent oneself anew unencumbered by the complications and attachments of life at "home." Glahn went in pursuit of that dream--of solitude and of liberation--only to find himself, at times by his own actions, enmeshed in the same sort of complications he sought to escape. Hamsun sought out a similar dream in his utopias of conservative nationalism, orientalism, fascism, and so forth, but like Glahn, found himself repeatedly frustrated by the continual untidiness and persistent incompleteness of the outside world. There had to be a compelling reason why Hamsun had Glahn end up in India, but one wonders whether it was because Hamsun really wanted to believe that the dream of India was a possible reality or whether he had already realized the futility of liberation, the impossibility of absolute answers, and so had Glahn arrive at his imagined utopia only to begin a downward spiral into suicidal disillusionment when confronted with reality.

    Yet disillusionment was not the only possible response. To return to Sigrid Undset and the world of Kristin Lavransdatter: Husfrue, one could make the argument that for Undset as for Kristin, the medieval Norwegian farmstead was part "home," part imagined utopia. There is even one point in the novel where Kristin's domestic world is suddenly rendered open by an encounter that includes the "discovery" of India. Kristin receives a rosary that is made "av et slags gult tre sore kom fra India, og duftet sa sott og liflig at de vel kunde minne om det sore en god bonn burde vaere" (320) [of a type of yellow tree-wood that came from India and smelled so sweet and delicious that it could well remind one of what a good prayer ought to be]. Kristin is then told that this "delicious" wood, along with the exotic amber and gold that also compose the rosary, is used by Christians and non-Christians alike in their religious devotions in India. Suddenly Kristin's world is rendered strange: an ordinary Christian symbol is transformed into an exotic artifact that hints of a larger world outside of Kristin's medieval Norwegian farmstead. That larger world, represented by India, also suggests the possibility of Christians and non-Christians interacting in a way that Kristin did not hitherto think possible or desirable in her medieval Norwegian world. But Kristin's reaction at this moment is not one of disillusionment or disgust, but rather one of enchantment. Is it perhaps because for Kristin, unlike for Glahn, India remained permanently a dream? Somewhere in between Kristin's enchantment and Glahn's disillusionment lies the answer; one wonders if the fact that it is India that links the two together is more than a matter of mere coincidence.

    (1) For this paper, all citations are drawn from the recent edition published by Gyldendal (2002). There are many other "standard" editions as well, for instance volume three in Gyldendal's Samlede Romaner og fortollinger of Knut Hamsun (1908). For textual variants and editorial debates, see Humpal. There are three popular English translations: one by Sverre Lyngstad (1998), one by J.W. McFarlane (1956), and one by W.W. Worster (1921).
    (2) See, for instance, Nettum: "Epilogen om Glahns dod er ikke et tilfeldig vedheng, men en organisk del av verket" (262) [The epilogue on Glahn's death is not an accidental appendage, but an organic part of the work].
    (3) Though I have been unable to find any direct evidence of intent, it is worth pointing out that 1857 was also a year of tremendous significance in India. In 1857, the first "national" rebellion against British rule in India occurred. This was a momentous event that took nearly a year to suppress and which resulted in the imposition of direct crown rule (with Queen Victoria as empress of India) in 1858. The failure to mention any events connected with the rebellion in "Glahns dod," though Glahn and his hunting partner are in India during 1857, is remarkable. To set part of the novel there but not mention this defining moment would be akin to setting it in America in 1776 without mentioning the American Revolution. If intentional, it might establish a parallel between the self-absorbed narcissism of Glahn as narrator in the first part with that of his hunting partner in the second. There is a tremendous amount of material on the 1857 rebellion, but see, in general, Mukherjee; see also Stokes.
    (4) See Nettum: "I den gode tiden--mens Glahns sjel er 'egal'--er det en fredelig natur hart bar oyne og orer for. Ingen kamp, hagen rovdyr forstyrrer harmonien" (222) [In the good times--while Glahn's soul is "at peace"--there is a peaceful nature with her eyes and ears open. No struggle, no predators disturb the harmony]. On the Pan myth, see in general Merivale; and in particular Sehmsdoff.
    (5) There are different variations on this argument. Rottem argues, for instance, that Glahn and Edvarda share a "passionate" romance in the sense of being (in romanticist terms) beyond reason ("Pan").
    (6) See Vige, who generalizes the argument and states: "Kjaerlighetskonflikten i 'Pan' kan ... best karakteriseres som en psykologisk maktkamp" (55) [The love-conflicts in Pan can ... best be characterized as a psychological power struggle].
    (7) These phrases and descriptions appear frequently in the novel; the ones I have used here are drawn from chapters 10 and 11 of the main narrative. These physical characteristics and their emotive implications are not shared only between Edvarda and Glahn; at one point, for instance, Edvarda says to Glalm: "Vet du hvad min veninde sier om dig? ... Du har dyreblik, sier hun, og nar du ser pa hende gjor du hende gal" (39) [Do you know what my friend says about you? ... You have animal eyes, she says, and when you look at her you drive her wild].
    (8) On the theme of disillusionment in Hamsun's fiction, see Kittang, Luft.
    (9) See Edvard Hoem: "The landscapes are allusions to literary conventions very often reflecting 'the uneasiness of being at home,' 'the excitement of leaving'" (35). Hoem, a contemporary Norwegian writer, focuses much of his discussion here on Hamsun and Ibsen. See, more generally, George; Clark; and Gilbert and Johnston.
    (10) Note interestingly that Hamsun retains the English word to describe the proprietor; the italics are in the original.
    (11) Here, too, Hamsun's choice of language is noteworthy. Maggie is described as "halvtamulerinde," which is ambivalent at best, if not fantastical. She is identified as Tamil, which means she is from the southern part of India, so "tamulerinde" seems redundant. If she is Indian and half-Tamil, then this would not have been physically apparent and would also have been not that remarkable. Hamsun must therefore be highlighting her incomplete identity for effect. Also, just as Popperwell noted that Hamsun's language in describing parts of Nordland seemed more appropriate to more southerly latitudes, Maggie is also described as having "snow-white teeth," showing the same incongruence in reverse. All of this points to the unsettledness of identities, both in India and in Nordland.
    (12) On the symbolism of power and dominion relating to the hunt in India, see Mackenzie, esp. ch. 7 ("The Imperial Hunt in India").
    (13) Again, this is a common theme of orientalist and imperialist literature. See Lindemann: "'Impossible' ist die Ruckkehr in den Orient, well der 'Orient' als Fluchtphantasie bercits durchschaut wird. Aber ebenso 'impossible' ist es, in Europa zu bleiben und sich von den Giften der modernen Zivilisation vernebeln zu lassen" (140) [It is "impossible" to return in the Orient, because the "Orient" as an escape fantasy has already been seen through. But it is also "impossible" to remain in Europe and allow oneself to be enshrouded by the poisons of modern civilization].
    (14) Specifically, this accords with the gendered power struggles that pervade Pan and can also be seen as an ironic twist in relation to Seller's argument that Pan can be read as a patriarchal creation-myth. Generally, it accords with the politics of sexuality and gender in imperial settings, on which see Hyam; see also Sinha.
    (15) This adds yet another layer of meaning to the already complex psychological relationship between sexuality, power, and death in Pan and other modernist novels. On this, see, for instance, Poulsen.
    (16) See, for instance, the letter from Hamsun to Erik Skram dated 7 May 1889 in which he states: "[Brandes] vil endog laere mig engelsk--og laere Emerson indisk" (Naess, Knut Hamsuns brev, ltr. 82, 1:132) [(Brandes) wants to finally teach me English--and teach Emerson Indian]. The Emerson mentioned here is Ralph Waldo Emerson, whom Hamsun met in America in the 1880s and who also explored "Eastern" philosophy as part of the transcendentalist movement in American literature.
    (17) Dronning Tamara is Hamsun's only overtly orientalist work, influenced not only by his readings of Sakuntala but also by his travels to the "East" (primarily Turkey). The setting of the play is medieval Georgia.
    (18) Hamsun's experiences in and impressions of America were recorded in his Fra det moderne Amerikas Aandsliv 0889). See also Nass, Knut Hamsun og Amerika; and Fontander.
    (19) Note the description as "half-ape" (halvaber), reminiscent of the mixed and half-identities in Pan discussed above.
    (20) Hamsun seems to have singled out Henrik Ibsen on this point, even face to face--Ibsen was present at some of Hamsun's lectures. Hamsun's assessment seems unduly harsh, for Ibsen was far too skilled a dramatist to be portrayed as a one-note "realist." In the words of Bjorn Hemmer: "'Virkelighet' og naturlighet er normen, men Ibsen var selvsagt ikke sa naiv at han ikke skjelnet mellom liv og diktning, mellom virkelighet og teaterilusjon" (Hemmer 33) ["Reality" and naturalism were the norm, but Ibsen was clearly not so naive as to be unable to distinguish between life and poetry, or between reality and theatrical illusion]. Hemmer also points out that ironically, while Hamsun may have modified his criticisms of Ibsen later after appreciating the multifaceted nature of Ibsen's work, there is also evidence that Ibsen's later works turned toward the exploration of psychological tension (the "ubevidste Sjaeleiv") partly to respond to Hamsun's critique.
    (21) Hamsun's novel Sult [1890; Hunger] was his first concerted effort to put this into literary form. For an analytical reading, see Kittang, "Knut Hamsun's Sult."
    (22) See Bo, "Nationale subjekter." "Bo marks the breaking point with Ibsen's play Brand (1866), which he argues is both a religions drama and a "national satire" (241). According to Hemmer, however, Ibsen himself insisted that Brand was not a religious play, but rather a work on "aesthetics" (129).
    (23) See Naess, Knut Hamsun: "Even before World War I [Hamsun] had begun to look upon Germany as a new vigorous country kept down by old England's colonial power, and that sympathy for the young nation he later transferred to Hitler's Germany" (21). Similar reasoning caused many Indian nationalists, such as Subhas Chandra Bose, to support Hitler as well.
    (24) Like Hamsun, Tigerstedt paid dearly for his political views later in life, especially after 1944 when he fled to and sought asylum in Sweden.
    (25) But it was not the only house in town: many Scandinavian writers--Sigrid Undset and Par Lagerkvist among them--remained staunch opponents of fascism.
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    --. "Knut Hamsun's Suit: Psychological Deep Structures and Metapoetic Plot." Facets of European Modernism. Ed. Janet Garton. Norwich: Norvik, 1985. 295-308.
    --. Luft, vind, ingenting: Hamsuns desillusjonsromanar fra Sult til Ringen sluttet. Oslo: Gyldendal, 1984.
    Kontje, Todd Curtis. German Orientalisms. Ann Arbor: U Michigan P, 2004.
    Lien, Asmund. "Pans latter." Edda 93 (1993): 131-7.
    Linde-Laursen, Anders. "Solvang: Et stykke Danmark i Californien?" Kulturens Nationalisering: Et etnologisk perspektiv pa det nationale. Ed. Bjarne Stoklund. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum, 1999. 213-34.
    Lindemann, Uwe. Die Wuste: Terra incognita, Erlebnis, Symbol: Eine Genealogie der abendlandischen Wustenvorstellungen in der Literatur vonder Antike bis zur Gegenwart. Heidelberg: Winter, 2000.
    Linneberg, Arild. "Hamsuns Pan og fascism." Auf alten und neuen Pfaden: Eine Dokumentation zur Hamsun-Forschung. Vol. 2. Ed. Heiko Uecker. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1983. 183-200.
    Longum, Leif. "Gullpenntradisjonens fedre." Norsk litteraturhistorie: Sakprosa fra 1750 til 1995. Vol. 1 (1750-1920). Eds. Egil Borre Johnsen and Trond Berg Erikson. 2 vols. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 1998. 581-9.
    Lowenthal, Leo. "Knut Hamsun: Zur Vorgeschichte der autoritaren Ideologie." Zeitschrift fur Sozialforschung 6 (1937): 295-345.
    Mackenzie, John M. The Empire of Nature: Hunting, Conservation and British Imperialism. Manchester: Machester UP, 1988.
    Mazor, Yair. "The Epilogue in Knut Hamsun's Pan: The Questionable Combination, the Analogous Connection and the Rhetorical Compensation." Edda 84 (1984): 313-28.
    Merrivale, Patricia. Pan the Goat-God: His Myth in Modern Times. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1969.
    Mukherjee, Rudrangshu. Awadh in Revolt. Delhi: Oxford UP, 1984.
    Naess, Harald. Knut Hamsun. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1984.
    --. Knut Hamsun og Amerika. Oslo: Gyldendal, 1969.
    --, ed. Knut Hamsuns brev. 6 vols. Oslo: Gyldendal, 1994-2000.
    --. "Knut Hamsun and Growth of the Soil." Scandinavica 25.1 (May 1986): 5-17.
    Nag, Martin. Geniet: Knut Hamsun--en norsk Dostojevskij. Oslo: Solom, 1998.
    Nettum, Rolf Nyboe. Konflikt og vision: Hovedtemaer i Knut Hamsuns forfatterskap 1890-1912. Oslo: Gyldendal, 1970.
    Nilson, Sten Sparre. En orn i Uvor: Knut Hamsun og politikken. Oslo: Gyldendal, 1960.
    Paul, Fritz. "Hamsun und der Faschismus." Wege der Literaturwissenschaft. Eds. Jutta Kolkenbrock-Netz et al. Bonn: Bouvier, 1985. 303-14.
    Poliakov, Leon. Le mythe aryen: Essai sur les sources du racisme et des nationalismes. Paris: Calmann-Levy, 1971.
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    Poulsen, Steen Klitgard. Dodens Vork: Fem kapitaler om doden, moderne litteratur, litteraturteori og psykoanalyse. Arhus: Universitetsforlag, 2000.
    Rottem, Oystein. "'Nirvanas bulder'--Schopenhauer, Hamsun og viljens selvopphevelse" Hamsun in Tromso. Ed. Nils M. Knutsen. Hamaroy: Hamsuns-Selskapet, 1996. 139-52.
    --. "Pan--En hoysang til kjaerligheten eller Tusten i jegerkostyme." Pan: Handelsstedene, novellene, illustrasjonene. Ed. Nils M. Knutsen. Tromso: Hamsuns-Selskapet, 1986. 9-44.
    Salmon, Patrick. Scandinavia and the Great Powers 1890-1940. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997.
    --. "Norway." European Neutrals and Non-Belligerents during the Second World War Ed. Neville Wylie. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002. 53-75.
    Schlyter, Herman. Svarta Sara och andra gestalter: Missions- och kulturhistoriska glimtar. Stockholm: Diakonistyrelsens bokforlag, 1963.
    Schnurbein, Stefanie von. "Failed Seductions: Crises of Masculinity in Knut Hamsun's Pan and Knut Faldbakken's Glahn." Scandinavian Studies 73.2 (2001): 14-7-164.
    Sehmsdorf, Henning K. "Knut Hamsun's Pan: Myth and Symbol." Edda 74 (1974): 345-93.
    Seiler, Thomas. "Knut Hamsuns Pan als patriarchaler Schopfer-Mythos." Edda 95 (1995): 267-77.
    Sinha, Mrinalini. Colonial Masculinity: The "Manly Englishman" and the "Effeminate Bengali." Manchester: Manchester UP, 1995.
    Sjavik, Jan. "Lesning som sentral trope i Knut Hamsuns Pan." Modernismen i Skandinavisk Litteratur sore historisk fenomen og teoretisk problem. Ed. Asmund Lien. Trondheim: Nordisk institutt, 1991. 277-82.
    Smith, Woodruff D. The Ideological Origins of Nazi Imperialism. New York: Oxford up, 1986.
    Sorgaard, Nils-Aage. Fire forfattere og norsk fascisme. Oslo: Ny Dag, 1973.
    Stokes, Eric. The Peasant Armed. Delhi: Oxford UP. 1986.
    Tiemroth, Jorgen. Illusionens vej: Knut Hamsunsforfatterskab. Oslo: Gyldendal, 1974.
    Trimondi, Victor. Hitler, Buddha, Krishna: Eine unheilige Allianz vom Dritten Reich bis heute. Wien: Uberreuter, 2002.
    Turco, Alfred, Jr. "Knut Hamsun's Pan and the Riddle of 'Glahn's Death.'" Scandinavica 19.1 (May 1980): 13-29.
    Undset, Sigrid. Kristin Lavransdatter: Kransen; Hufrue; Korset. Oslo: Aschehoug, 1986 [1921].
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    Walta, Goran O:san. Poet under Black Banners: The Case of Ornulf Tigerstedt and Extreme Right-Wing Swedish Literature in Finland 1918-1944. Skrifter utgivna av Litteraturvetenskapliga institutionen vid Uppsala universitet 31. Stockholm: Almqvist och Wiksen, 1993.
    Witoszek, Nina. "The Anti-romantic Romantics: Nature, Kalowledge, and Identity in Nineteenth-century Norway." Nature and Society in Historical Context. Eds. Mikulas Teich, Roy Porter, and Bo Gustafsson. Cambridge: Cambridge up, 1997. 209-27.
    Aberg, Aft. Folket i Nya Sverige: Var koloni vid Delawarefloden 1638-1655. Stockholm: Natur och kultur, 1987.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ironic_weltschmerz
    [No worries press on me, I just long to go away, whereto I do not know, but far away, perhaps to Africa, to India. For I belong to the forests and to solitude]. Here we see repeated one of the common themes of imperialist exploration and orientalist Wanderlust: disenchantment and dislocation at home, a contradictory desire to find belonging in far away places and a realization that "home" exists in no one place. (9)
    You have brought up a thing I have always wondered about, IronicWSchm, and that is the thing seemingly quite peculiar to Northfolk of a feeling that they can't find their home or are looking for it. I have noticed that we love every part of earth and of course our homelands but that there seems to be a greater yearning, so very much like the kind that Tolkien intuited in his Elves, for some other seed land that has somehow been lost to us but which we constantly try to find by going everywhere in search of it, but often feeling despondent because we can't find it. We see ourselves as children of the stars and we are obsessed with going there to search further. We seem unable to keep our eyes and minds off the cosmos as if there in the myriads of worlds lies the old realm, the gods and the fallen threads of our web.
    We are an unusual race, that seems obvious. We wander because we are searching and we search because we seem to know there is something we must find. It also seems very apparent in peoples who built pyramids and things that could be seen from far above the earth, as though the people were both trying to signal someone as well as get through a star gate by lining their temples up with certain heavenly bodies or lines. I don't think this habit is purely "primitive". I have a feeling it may be linked to some deep and ancient idea in some cultures, maybe based on lost legends of a home in the stars.

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    Smile The Growth of the Soil -Read Knut Hamsun's novel online!

    Some of you might have heard about the Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun (1859-1952). For those of you that haven't, Hamsun started off his career by holding lectures all over the country in which he criticized four of Norway’s biggest and most popular authors (Ibsen, Kielland, Bjørnson and Jonas Lie) for their social realism in both plays and novels. He was criticized for these lectures, but Hamsun did not seem to care, and people would soon forget about it. His first breakthrough came in 1890, with his novel Hunger, where he described living-conditions, hunger and poverty in Norway's capitol, Christiania, followed by Mysteries (1892) and my personal favourite novel - Pan (1894) (Highly recommended!) 23 years later (and almost 20 novels after Pan), Hamsun published his soon-to-be bestseller, The Growth of the Soil.

    The Growth of the Soil was published in 1917, and earned Hamsun the Nobel Prize. The protagonist is Isak, Hamsun's ideal hero, who lives close to the elements. In Hamsun's idyll the human world and nature are united in a strong, mystical bond. "The wilderness was inhabited and unrecognizable, a blessing had come upon it, life had arisen there from a long dream, human creatures lived there, children played about the houses. And the forest stretched away, big and kindly, right up to the blue heights." Although Hamsun's feeling for the nature was not merely a Norwegian version of the Teutonic Blut und Boden (blood-and-soil) mystic, his sentiments were broadly shared in Germany, where his novels had a wide readership. (

    If you are interested in a good read and don't necessarily want to buy the book, you can in fact read the whole book online here:

    Here is an excerpt from the first chapter (to get you in the mood ) Enjoy!

    Book One
    Chapter I
    The long, long road over the moors and up into the forest — who trod it into being first of all? Man, a human being, the first that came here. There was no path before he came. Afterward, some beast or other, following the faint tracks over marsh and moorland, wearing them deeper; after these again some Lapp gained scent of the path, and took that way from field to field, looking to his reindeer. Thus was made the road through the great Almenning — the common tracts without an owner; no-man’s-land.

    The man comes, walking toward the north. He bears a sack, the first sack, carrying food and some few implements. A strong, coarse fellow, with a red iron beard, and little scars on face and hands; sites of old wounds — were they gained in toil or fight? Maybe the man has been in prison, and is booking for a place to hide; or a philosopher, maybe, in search of peace. This or that, he comes; the figure of a man in this great solitude. He trudges on; bird and beast are silent all about him; now and again he utters a word or two; speaking to himself.

    “Eyah — well, well . . .” — so he speaks to himself. Here and there, where the moors give place to a kindlier spot, an open space in the midst of the forest, he lays down the sack and goes exploring; after a while he returns, heaves the sack to his shoulder again, and trudges on. So through the day, noting time by the sun; night falls, and he throws himself down on the heather, resting on one arm.

    A few hours’ rest, and he is on the move again: “Eyah, well . . .” — moving northward again, noting time by the sun; a meal of barley cakes and goats’ milk cheese, a drink of water from the stream, and on again. This day too he journeys, for there are many kindly spots in the woods to be explored. What is he seeking? A place, a patch of ground? An emigrant, maybe, from the homestead tracts; he keeps his eyes alert, looking out; now and again he climbs to the top of a hill, looking out. The sun goes down once more.

    He moves along the western side of a valley; wooded ground, with leafy trees among the spruce and pine, and grass beneath. Hours of this, and twilight is falling, but his ear catches the faint purl of running water, and it heartens him like the voice of a living thing. He climbs the slope, and sees the valley half in darkness below; beyond, the sky to the south. He lies down to rest.
    "I don't trust or love anyone. Because people are so creepy. Creepy creepy creeps. Creeping around. Creeping here and creeping there. Creeping everywhere. Crippity crappity creepies."
    -Vincent Gallo.

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    Knut Hamsun centre

    Knut Hamsun, was one of the finest writers from Norway. Since he became a sympathizer of Hitler and NS, he was after the war considered a traitor. And even now, fifty years after his death some people won’t allow naming streets and places after his fictional characters.

    Finally the county advice in Nordland municipality has decided to devote 80 million Norwegian crowns to the building of a Knut Hamsun centre in Hamarøy where he grew up.

    A nice appropriate attention for a worthy writer!

    (Article in Norwegian

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    Re: Knut Hamsun centre

    Thanks a lot for this article, I happened to read last week, on a page dedicated to him, that Norse authorities stubbornly refused to name even a small street with his name. He, after all, was nothing more than a worthless nutzi, worse than anything else Earth ever bore, isn't?
    "The heavenly motions... are nothing but a continuous song for several voices, perceived not by the ear but by the intellect,
    a figured music which sets landmarks
    in the immeasurable flow of time."

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