Flowers and blood

What is love? Through all his writing, Knut Hamsun circles round the question.

2017-04-2011:25 Marianne Gjelseth

“Love is the origin of the world and its ruler, but all its ways are filled with flowers and blood, flowers and blood.” (Pan, 1894)

The many couples he creates are drawn between longing, tenderness and jealousy. The characters’ emotions are dominated by strong and invisible undercurrents that affect their words and their actions. Perhaps this is the essence of Hamsun’s mastery as a poet of love: that he is able to describe man and women who reach out for each other as the insecure and changing dance of life goes on.

Through his writings about love Hamsun also describes the economic and political relationship of power between the sexes in contemporary society.

Hamsun marries twice. The first time it is to Bergljot Göpfert in 1898. They are separated in 1906. Shortly afterwards he meets a young actress, Marie Andersen, who is 22 years his junior. They marry in 1909. The marriage is passionate and turbulent, but it lasts.