Yesterday, Crown Princess Mette-Marit opened the new Hamsun Centre in Hamarøy.
The centre celebrates the life and authorship of Norwegian author, Knut Hamsun.
In her speech the Crown Princess said [partial translation of the speech] :
“The landscape here invites to rest – but at the same time the dramatic nature nourishes the wanderlust of the wanderer. So much of the literature and language of Hamsun comes from here.
The forrests and the mountains, the sounds of the waves. The neverending days of the Nordland summer. The author lifted Nordland into the world literature, as a “small world of emotions, voices and sights.”
Knud Pedersen, as he was called back then, and his family moved here from Lom when Knut was three years old. The three week trip across the mountains to Trondheim and passing through Bodø, was his first journey. As time went on, there would be a lot of them. Hamsun travelled all his life: around Nordland, to Kristiania, Copenhagen and the United States. The wanderlust went hand in hand with longing for home.
If you’re looking for a message on peace and unity, Knut Hamsun is probably not the one you’re looking for.
For that, his authorship is too complicated and double in meaning, and his political reputation too difficult. We probably never will be finished discussing and analyzing Hamsun’s political thoughts and his stand during the war. These sides of Hamsun confronts us with opposing points that can seem insurmountable, and they belong in the debate about his heritage and in the anniversary year celebrating his literature.
Hamsun has been called the father of moderen literature. Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, Franz Kafka, Maxim Gorkij and Isaac B. Singer are only a couple of names who have expressed their debt to Hamsun’s literature.
In 1920, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature for “Growth of the Soil” And he is still being discovered and appreciated by new readers.
Knut Hamsun’s knowledge about the human mind and relations makes the experience of reading him much like coming home. Recognition makes us less lonely. The discovery that others have felt and experienced something similar to what we have, can aid and heal. It is a satisfaction for humans who are dragged between unrest, forever wandering, and the longing for rest, after rest for the soul.
Through the new centre, Knut Hamsun’s authorship can be kept alive and up-to-date for new generations. His life and writings pose many questions. Some of them can be answered by visiting the Hamsun centre. Others may possibly never be answered.
In the future I hope that the centre will also be a travel location for wanderers interested in culture, from across the world.”
The Crown Princess is the protector of the Hamsun year. However, when the Hamsun year started in February, it was Queen Sonja who attended, and not her daughter-in-law.
Due to the fact that Knut Hamsun was friendly towards the Nazis who occupied Norway during the war, there have been many objections regarding celebrating his authorship. Some of the protest has also been around the royal participation in the events.