Nobel Prize Speech

The manuscript of Knut Hamsun speech that he gave at the banquet in Stockholm when he received the Nobel Prize in Literature is kept at the National Library's Manuscript Collection. Here is the speech translated into English.

Ladies and gentlemen!

Oh, what am I to do in the presence of such overwhelming generosity? They lift me up, I loose my footing, I am carried away. It is not easy to be me right now. I have become fat with honors and riches tonight, but the last tribute was like a wave, it makes me sway.

It comes to my benefit that also earlier in life, in the days of youth, I have swayed. I am tempted to say that all things in life will turn out to be beneficial.

However, I will be careful not to speak wisdom before so distinguished an assembly, especially after the great science has been speaking. On behalf of my country, I thank the Swedish Academy and all of Sweden for the honor they have bestowed on me. Personally, I have to bow my head under the weight of such great distinction. I am proud that your Academy has judged my neck strong enough to bear it.

I write my books in my small way, but I have learned from everyone, not the least from Swedish poetry, not the least from the poetry of the latest Swedish generation. If I were more conversant with the field of literature, I would develop this matter better, in accordance with the last speech. However, on my part it would have been mere glibness, shallow sound effects without a single bass note. I am no longer young enough for that; I do not have the strength.

What I most of all would like to do right now, in the full blaze of lights, before this illustrious assembly, - is to shower every one of you with flowers and poetry and gifts, to be young once more, to ride the wave. That is what I would like to do – for the sake of a great occasion, for the sake of the last chance. Today I have become fat with riches and honors – yes, but one gift is missing, the most important one, the only one that matters, the gift of youth.

No matter what I ought to do – no matter what might be the right thing to do, I raise my glass to everything young in life, to the youth of Sweden, to all youth!