Knut Hamsun (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: The author of more than twenty novels, six plays, and numerous essays, poems, and short stories, Hamsun is widely considered to be Norway’s greatest novelist. He was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920.
Knut Hamsun was born Knut Pedersen in the agricultural area of Lom, Gubrandsdal, Norway, on August 4, 1859. When he was four years old, his impoverished family moved to the farm of a wealthier uncle in Nordland, one hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle. Life was easier for the family there, but debts continued to mount. At nine, Knut was sent to live with another uncle, Hans Olsen, working in Olsen’s post office to pay off a family debt. For five years, Knut worked for his uncle, who starved and beat him. Once Knut had finished his schooling, however, he was able to escape, beginning at the age of fourteen a life of wandering and searching for work.
For the next five years, Hamsun roamed northern Norway, working as a store clerk, an itinerant merchant, a shoemaker’s apprentice, a sheriff’s deputy, and a schoolteacher. Throughout these years he sharpened his writing skills, and he published his first novel, Den gaadefulde (the mysterious one), in 1877. In 1878, he published a poem, “Et gjensyn” (“A Reunion”), and another novel, Bjoerger. The two novels were transparently autobiographical accounts of the loneliness and...
(The entire section is 1997 words.)
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