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MUNKEN VENDT

«DYRE: No – it’s what to do – that’s what I say –, / you ready yourself the appropriate way. / No average man will deny that I’m right, / nor yet one like yourself, who has seen the light. / It’s mostly a case of ‘you know what I mean’. / When the great forbid in their law / what the priest tells us God would abhor, / poor devils must do all unseen. / The pot boiling here in the wild wood, / this is barley, the best to be got, yes, it’s moonshine, and soon I’ll be drinking, but so what –? / It harms no one, and does me great good.»

1902
2017-04-2613:03 Viktor Håkonsen

Munken Vendt (1902) is a verse-drama in eight Acts. Hamsun uses the same metre (knittelvers) as Ibsen did in Peer Gynt (1867)

The action takes place in Nordland towards the end of the eighteenth century. Munken Vendt is the illegitimate son of a milkmaid. He abandons his theological studies and devotes himself to hunting and seducing women. He finds himself torn between the gentle Blis and the more temperamental Iselin. Iselin marries the powerful Didrik, but her feelings for Munken Vendt persist, as does his fascination with her.

The eponymous hero Munken Vendt is used elsewhere in Hamsun’s work, including appearances in Pan, Victoria and Rosa.

Munken Vendt was written as a play for reading, and only with considerable adaptation can it be performed on stage. Several of the songs and poems in the drama appeared subsequently in The Wild Choir (1904), Hamsun’s collection of poems. The drama was originally intended to be the start of a trilogy, but Hamsun abandoned the plan after struggling with the demands of the form.

Front cover of Munken Vendt published in Samlede verker. Ny utgave 2007–2009 (Collected Works. New edition 2008–2009). Gyldendal Norsk Forlag.