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

Publication date:
05 Sep 2009
Yale University Press
384 pages: 3962 x 5944mm
20 b-w
Sales territories:

An absorbing biography of Nobel Prize–winning novelist Knut Hamsun, based on a wealth of previously unavailable sources

Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun (1859–1952), winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1920, was a man both brilliant and controversial. 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 for 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 won the Norwegian Readers’ Award 2004 for this biography. He has worked as publisher, journalist, commentator, and editor for a number of newspapers. He lives in Norway.

[a] daring, frightening book.Los Angeles Times