By Kerry Bolton
Knut Hamsun has had a decisive impact on the course of 20th century literature both in Europe and North America, yet he is little discussed let alone honoured in his native Norway.
Ernest Hemingway tried to emulate him as did Henry Miller, who called Hamsun The Dickens of my generation. Thomas Mann wrote, never has the Nobel Prize been awarded to one so worthy of it.
Hamsun saw in National Socialism an attempt to reconnect man with the soil in the face of industrialisation and materialism. Hamsun was a supporter and admirer ofVidkun Quisling and wrote for the Fritt Folk, the publication of the National Samling party. His wife was a regional organiser for the party.
In 1943 he travelled to Germany with his wife as guests of Dr Goebbels. In Vienna he met Adolf Hitler. In 1944 he visited a Panzer Division and a U-Boat and he expressed great pride in his son who had joined the Waffen SS.Norge.
After the war Hamsun was 86 years old. He was not imprisoned but detained in an institution. His wife was imprisoned, until 1948 and his son until 1949, under retrospective legislation. On Hitlers death Knut Hamsun said: We his closest supporters, now bow our heads at his death.