[Wergeland] never had to suffer being an old man and to sit there, repulsive to those around him in virtue of his being so old. That was the gift of the gods to him, that was how the gods had mercy on him. Nor did he have to endure the decline in his talent that would probably have brought him a St. Olav’s medal or some other great honour, he never got old enough for that; no, he died young. (”Wergeland”, speech on the Centenary of Henrik Wergeland’s birth June 17th 1908)
Hamsun dreaded old age, which he associated with both physical and mental decline
His descriptions of the old are often crass, and often also involve depictions of the social degradation that can come with old age. There is an example of this in Hunger (1890), in which the landlady’s old, lame and mute father is a helpless witness to his daughter’s promiscuous behaviour. Another example is the repulsive description of Mons and Fredrik Mensa in Benoni (1908).
Hamsun – who himself lived to be over 90 years of age – wrote of Bjørnson on the occasion of their disagreement over the union policy of the Left Party: "You have grown old, Master, that’s the trouble. And oh, how I wish you had not grown old!"