Knut Hamsun Dreamer and Dissenter Ingar Sletten Kolloen, Erik Skuggevik, Deborah Dawkin

Publication date:
07 Aug 2009
352 pages: 239 x 164 x 36mm
20 black-&-white illustrations

Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun (1859-1952), winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1920, was both a brilliant and controversial man. Lauded for his literary achievements by "Hemingway", "Gide", "Hesse", and others, he also provoked outrage for his open collaboration with the Fascists during the German occupation of Norway and his insistent refusal to renounce his Nazi sympathies. This gripping biography of Hamsun, now available for the first time in English, offers a nuanced account of this morally ambiguous man.Drawing on Hamsun's extraordinary private archives and on his psychoanalyst's notes, Ingar Sletten Kolloen delves deeply into Hamsun's personal life and character. In vivid and telling detail, he describes Hamsun's early years in a peasant farming family, his tempestuous and jealousy-racked second marriage, his erratic relationship with his children, and his infamous love affair with Nazi Germany, the roots of which Kolloen traces to Hamsun's earliest days. Much like the characters he created in novels such as "Hunger", "Growth of the Soil", "Mysteries", and "Pan", Hamsun was irrational, eccentric, strange, and compelling - a man uncomfortable in his own time.

Ingar Sletten Kolloen has worked as a publisher and journalist, commentator and editor in a number of newspapers, including a position as Chief Arts Editor of Aftenposten, Norway's leading newspaper. In 1999 he published a critically acclaimed biography of the poet Tor Jonsson, Only Love and Death. Kolloen won the Norwegian Readers' Award 2004 for the Hamsun biography.

ÔThis is [a] fine translation of an outstanding biography in which HamsunÕs life and work are beautifully interwoven with understanding and judgement.Õ