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The Hamsun Centre Exhibition

The exhibition at the Hamsun Centre represents a journey through the life and works of Knut Hamsun.

The exhibition explores the breadth and ambiguities of this celebrated and condemned writer; his modernist narrative and his criticism of modernity, his restless, wandering characters, his idealisation of agricultural life, his tales of love, of the North Norwegian nature and the shifting moods of the human soul. Hamsun’s political sympathies are central elements in the exhibition, which is interwoven with quotations illustrating Hamsun’s remarkable powers of articulation. The exhibition has been produced by Hybris Produksjon AS.

The exhibition is structured into different themes, allowing you to begin wherever you like. Take the elevator up to the 4th floor and start with the debates about Hamsun’s political and literary legacy – or begin on the 1st floor by exploring the author’s childhood and years of adolescence in Nordland. On each floor you can further immerse yourself in the various themes of the exhibition via Hamsunweb.

4th floor

Celebrated and condemned
Knut Hamsun is Norway’s most innovative and controversial writer through all times. With the publication of Hunger in 1890, and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920, Hamsun gained a position as Norway’s greatest author. His pro-German sympathies during WWII represented a major fall. The debates about Knut Hamsun’s literary and political legacy continue to this day.

The Wanderer
Knut Hamsun was constantly on the road, and the figure of the wanderer is central to his works. His travels to America, throughout Europe and to the Orient, impacted both his life and his literary style.

Growth of the Soil
The novel about Isak Sellanraas’ settlement in the wilderness of the northern Norwegian mountains was perceived as a message of peace and self-sufficiency upon its publication in 1917. Today, Growth of the Soil is seen as a novel expressing ambivalence toward modern life and the idea of progress. In 1920, Hamsun received the Nobel Prize in Literature for this book.

3rd floor

Flowers and blood
Knut Hamsun is considered one of the world’s greatest writers on the subject of love. Who were the women in his life and his writings?

The modernist
During the 1890s, Hamsun wrote some of the most influential novels in the history of literature. He wanted to craft a new type of psychological literature – an exploration of “the whispering of the blood and the prayer of the bone.” Hunger, Mysteries and Pan are today regarded as highlights of literary modernism.

The “Archive”

Here we present articles and objects from some of Hamsun’s books – Ylajali’s veil, Nagel’s yellow suit and Glahn’s Lieutenant’s uniform.

The walls of the archive building allow you to explore Hamsun’s creative process – handwritten notes, restlessness, writer’s block and euphoric outbursts of inspiration.

1st floor

Childhood
Knut Hamsun was born as Knud Pedersen in Gudbrandsdalen on 4 august 1859. Three years later, the family moved to the farm property Hamsund in Nordland. How did Hamsun’s childhood memories and impressions affect his writings?

Nordland
More than half of Hamsun’s roughly forty titles are in some way associated with Nordland. Life along the fjords inspired Hamsun to write many humorous stories, as well as harsh criticisms of the modernization taking place in society.

Critic of civilization
“Modern life has influenced and changed and refined human beings,” Hamsun said in 1891. Throughout his writings, he was attentive to all things modern – and critical to the hectic and superficial aspects of the new age.

Politics
Hamsun was interested in politics throughout his life. Here we present a selection of the author’s political articles from 1889 to 1945, as well as an inside look at the charges of treason brought against him after the war.

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by Nina Frang Høyum

English translation: Thilo Reinhard

The exhibition is made by