Hamsun festival in Grimstad and poets days in Lom 2003.

Welcome to Hamsun and Ibsen days in Grimstad from 14. - 17. August it said in the invitation from Ola Veigaard. A good idea, I saw the 2 giants before my eyes: One sitting stiff and silent in the first row, while the other from the rostrum pronounced his verdict over the ruling literature of 1891 "What I particularly will accuse Ibsen of is this, that he, who is the one amongst our authors who is the least of a pedagogue and the least of a democrat, still does not rise above the others as a penetrating psychologist". In "Mysteries" Hamsun could also not help saying: "In comparison to Bjørnsons for example Ibsens poetry is pure mechanical red tape. Ibsens verse consists mainly of letting rhyme meet rhyme with a smack; most of his plays are dramatized pulp". Now the two are united here in an exiting arrangement, a great idea, probably the two will be sitting on their cloud watching!!

With expectancy it went direction Grimstad. Every time one thinks that certainly it can´t be as good as last time and still one ends up with the sensation of having been given something precious. All the congenial people I have got to know in Norway, the experienced lecturers, the Hamsun family, beautiful sunny Norway, I could go on but I think you have got the point: Again I have had a marvellous trip, that I will try to give a glimpse of.
"Nørholm" emerged as the road turned, the golden rays of the sun shined on all the lush green that surrounds the beautiful white building, the well kept garden, the poets cottage quietly hiding amongst the green, time stood still, a sensation seized me as though one could feel Hamsuns spirit waking over the place. Holding my breath I sneaked up to the iron gates, felt like looking into the promised land, the silence only broken by Victoria Hamsuns dog coming to the gate as though it wondered what was I doing there.

Nørholm Sørvika

I was invited to stay with Marianne Hamsun in "Sørvika" a noble and warm personality, whose friendship I highly esteem. We had many discussions on life, nature, art and Knut Hamsun and we enjoyed together the arrangements, that Marianne lent lustre to.

Grimstad under the summer sun, a glimpse towards the famous mailbox, yes now we had the beautiful 1945 style mailbox. I hope that the receivers of my postcards could sense History. I almost sensed Hamsuns breath as I put the postcards into the mailbox.

Ola Veigaards welcome address

The start of the Hamsun and Ibsen festival brought me to beautiful Arendal, where I never were before, to the exquisite new library to a hall filled to the brim and a top fit Øystein Rottem, who told about Hamsun and the triumph of fantasy. We were taken on a journey into Hamsuns poetical imagination, a Hamsun that never cease to fascinate. On these wings of imagination we flew to the next lecturer Nils Magne Knutsen, who with charm and wit took us on a hike with Hamsun through the enchanted north Norwegian language.
The library hall was so overfilled, that Hamsuns biographer Ingar S.Kolloen, who came late together with Signe Marie Stray Rysdal, Hamsuns lawyer Sigrid Strays daughter, first were refused admittance to crowded room, but that mistake was soon solved though it off course gave some good headlines in the local newspaper. Now many of my Hamsun friends and acquaintances had turned up, a.o. Leif Hamsun, who always in a noble and committed way line up to support when Knut Hamsun is scheduled.

Ø. Rottem N. M. Knutsen

In the former court room where Hamsun in 1947 was convicted, now Grimstad children´s library, Lars Frode Larsen presented his new collection of Hamsuns poems "En fløjte lød i mit blod" (A Flute sounded in my Blood). Some of the poems had never been published before, others only in extracts. As Larsen said, this book is an hommage to Hamsun, a mixture of poems - some really good, others funny, all giving a portrait of a poet with a twinkle in his eye. Off course I brought the book with me home with L.F.Larsens inscription.



"Her kommer jeg i min dyreste stas paa hollandsk bøttepapir.
Det er som en enke paa ny seilas, saa fuld av livseleksir.
Det er som en taler paa høit stillas - han smiler, smigrer og frir."

In the same room the next arrangement took place, a lecture by Inge Eidsvåg on Hamsuns role in the Ossietzky case. I was curious to know how it was presented. It was indeed a awkward situation for Hamsun, but it turned out to be well presented, objective and factual. Much focus was put on background information on the life of the peace researcher, an exiting and well told lecture.

Same evening in the cultural centre: Sverre Anker Ousdal told much lively about an actor work with himself and Ibsen and played afterwards together with Kjersti Holmen the well known showdown scene of "Brand".

Ghita Nørby as Marie Hamsun: After we had seen a couple of scenes from the film, Ghita told passionate and committed about her encounter with the "Marie" role, that she almost materialised before our eyes through Ghitas lively talk. Ghita had gained much tenderness for Marie through the studies she did during the preparations for the film and has taken the initiative to get "Regnbuen" (The rainbow) published again with a foreword by herself. Ghita Nørby was more occupied understanding than condemning her. The Danish actor Joen Bille, great grandchild of both Ibsen and Bjørnson acted as interviewer. Ghita told about her first encounter with Tore Hamsun, who had opened his arms and exclaimed: "You look exactly like her".

Marie Hamsun was still in my thoughts as we later walked a couple of hundred meters to Apotekergården (the old pharmacy), where Henry Notaker over the aperitif gave a talk on especially drinks but also food in Hamsuns poetry. The evening ended with a superb dinner, the whole atmosphere and the conversation was enthusiastic I can tell you, so it was late before we found our beds and some much needed rest because there was always just one more item to discuss.

Ghita Nørby and Joen Bille

Next days lectures offered a special experience as Bjørn Hemmer said in his introduction: Joen Bille, who acted Hamsuns literary lectures from 1891, where Hamsun had the cheek to "kill" the big 4 and confidently dismiss all the golden age literature. According to eye witnesses Ibsen sat in the front row without turning a hair while Hamsun criticised his poetry. A fantastic idea to get Ibsen and Bjørnsons great grandchild to play Hamsun. "What is The Lady of the Sea? I do not know, I do not know at all; because the Lady of the Sea speaks so divinely deep. - No, it is a book for Germans. It is a book for nations, who are used to read profound poetry. Ibsen has written a book, that´s more than enough". Many thanks to the organizing committee for getting such a brilliant idea and to Joen Bille for accepting.

Joen Bille

Ingar Sletten Kolloen was next on the programme. He gave extracts of his biography, which was just about to be published, as always poetic and fine. Since we were in Grimstad he read from the chapter where Hamsun bought Nørholm. We were told, that one has to be in want of talent if one could not write excitingly about Hamsun and that what he wrote was not "The Truth" but his impression of what had happened. But certainly the biography was in search of the truth and this I find a sound basis. Even during a relaxed dinner at the Apotekergården neither Unn Conradi Andersen, Marianne Hamsun nor I got Ingar S. Kolloen to reveal som of the novelties of the book, that was to be published some days later on 4th September in Oslo.

Then came our excursion. In the most beautiful summer weather we arrived with bus and boat on the island of Kvaløy, where we first listened to a lecture on pilotage authority, factual and well given by Per Hillesund while we enjoyed coffee and waffles baked by the local inhabitants. What an ambience and listeners everywhere - according to the newspapers around 900 people.

MarianneHamsun and EvenArntzen

The highlight was Ghita Nørby reciting Terje Vigen so that everybody including Ghita herself were close to tears. Imagine a wrecked dinghy on the shore, one microphone, Ghita Nørby in a lovely blue dress, all the people seated like birds on every vacant rock or stone from the waterline and up the cliff, sunshine and the 900 people spellbound listening to Ibsens words about Terje Vigen, if one is not moved then...:
" Da yachten drejed for Hesnæs-sund, den hejste det norske flag.
Lidt længere vest det glatte lag. Da tindred en tåre i Terjes blik;
han stirred fra hejen ud: "stort har jeg mistet, men stort jeg fik.
Bedst var det, kanhænde, det gik, som det gik,- og så får du ha'e tak da, Gud!"

Leif Hamsun and Even Arntzen.

Satiated with impressions we enjoyed the boat trip back to Grimstad and for us the evening ended by Lars Roar Langslet and Even Arntzen coming with us home to Marianne for a chat, wine and shrimps. What a lovely day.

Now the time for departure had come, Øystein Rottem came to "Sørvika" and had lunch with Marianne and me. A pleasant conclusion on my Norway trip. The last event, the inauguration of Nygårds Hamsun sculpture at Landvik aldershjem (old peoples home) by Inge Eidsvåg, I unfortunately missed. Many thanks to Ola Veigaard, everybody in the Hamsun and Ibsen societies, thanks to all the people I got to know and who participated to give us all such an amount of experiences and adventures and, not the least, the desire to read again the two authors books and plays. Notice that I also include Ibsen, I do like his plays, they are often played here in Karlsruhe. People often ask me whether there is still something to learn about Hamsun. I have to answer with a big YES, every time one gets a little wiser and enlightened, can one ask for more? With the melody of the Norwegian language in my ears I then popped off in my tiny yellow "Nagel" car direction Karlsruhe, where Gert patiently listened to my enthusiastic accounts.

Departure at Marianne Hamsun..............................Back in Karlsruhe

Poets Days in Lom 7. - 10. August:

Well, normally I should have commenced my report here since I was in Lom before Grimstad, but as a culminating treat here a little about my experiences in Lom. The literary seminar was not actually about Hamsun but about Tor Jonsson, Olav Aukrust, Ragnvald Skrede, Halldis Moren Vesaas and much else, well directed by the chairman of the Tor Jonsson Society Steinar Hansson, who himself held an interesting lecture on Tor Jonsson. If you are interested in literature the Diktardagar (Poet Days) is strongly recommended, though there are also much else to experience for body and soul: Theatre, music, exhibitions, I´ll certainly be here in 2 years again. Some Hamsun connection was found though: Toril and Leif Hamsun had also come to beautiful Lom and enjoyed like me the abundant hospitality of the friends in the Lom Society. We especially remember an evening at Torunn Kjøks, good food and wine, Knut Kjøks sensitive violin playing Norwegian folklore, mixed with talks on the multifarious aspects of life. Many warm thoughts were sent to Knut Hamsun - without his poetry we would not have met here.

A nightly soirée with Ingolf Håkon Teigen as host. Writers with new books were presented a.o. Torhild Brække, Leif Ramslie and Ingar Sletten Kolloen who skilfully avoided to reveal the novelties of his Hamsun biography, no we had to be patient though something had leaked to the press. We were all impressed by the extract that was recited, poetically written as it was.

The highlight was a commemoration at the Hamsun cottage in Garmo, the sun was shining, people strolled around the small hut, incredible that it housed an entire family. Per Eiliv Nyrnes held a fine welcome address, the poem "Om hundred år er alting glemt" (In 100 years everything will be forgotten) recited and Knut Kjøks beautiful folklore sounded in the Norwegian landscape, Leif Hamsun laid a wreath at the Knut Hamsun menhir and said some fine and personal words over his grandfather. Finally Ingar S. Kolloen read from his new biography the part about Hamsuns first years in Garmo. It was a wonderful sensation sitting here in Norway´s beautiful landscape together with dedicated Hamsun friends, a sensation that lasted on through the parting from Lom and everybody and on the road south towards Asker and Grimstad.

Per Eiliv Nyrnes .....................Leif Hamsun ......................................Knut Kjøk

"Og løvet gulner end mere, det lier mot høsten, det er kommet nogen flere stjærner på himlen og månen ser fra nu av ut som en skygge av sølv som er dyppet i guld. Det var ingen kulde, ingenting, bare en sval stilhet og et strømmende liv i skogen. Hvert træ stod og tænkte. Bærrene var modne." Knut Hamsun ( Pan ).

Hamsuns home in Garmo

© Kirsten Hedvig Rasmussen www.hamsun.at