IBSEN- and HAMSUN-FESTIVAL in GRIMSTAD: 9 - 13 AUGUST 2006
What is "The Lady from the
Sea" ? I do not know, I do not know at all; because
the Lady from the Sea talks so divinely profound. - No,
this is a book for Germans. (Hamsun writes about
Ibsen in his lecture "Norwegian Literature").
Ibsen on the contrary never wrote about Hamsun, though
that would have been highly interesting! It has become a
tradition that the two giants in Norwegian literature
meet here in an exiting event and I believe that the two,
each sitting on his cloud, will agree, yes, there is room
for us both! Once more Ibseniana and the
Hamsun-Society in Grimstad invited to a rich and exiting
programme, this year mainly focussed on Ibsen and the
centennial of his death.
Hotel Norlandia now became my base-camp for the next days, full of curiosity I made a round in Grimstad, good friends started to turn up too and filled the days with joy. A guided tour of the newly renovated Ibsen-museum was first on my list and I crossed the new pavement towards the entrance with much anticipation. An Ibsen Café and shop was situated opposite the museum and tempted with offers for mind and body. Already at the entrance to the museum my thought were turned back to the times when Ibsen arrived here as a young man in 1843 and during the following 6 years mixed powders and ointments whilst dreaming of becoming a poet and during his leisure hours wrote his first play "Catilina". "To write - that is holding judgement day over one-self", Henrik Ibsen. As I went around this incredibly interesting museum, I wished that I could have continued in a Hamsun museum! I still hope this wish may come true!
I stayed in Ibsen's world and drove to Dømmesmoen,
where Jon Fløjstad lively and captivating told about the
pharmaceutical apprentice Ibsen and the myths about his
use of herbs. The title was "Ibsen's currant bushes
and other bushes." The myth that Ibsen wandered the
county collecting medicinal herbs was done away with. The
use of medicinal herbs was ruled by severe royal
statutory instruments and herbs had to be bought in
Copenhagen and Hamburg. Really a new and interesting
theme. But the day offered more Ibsen events.
I did sleep!! but in the neighbouring room somebody
was suffering from chronic coughs and I suffered too!!
Then a visit to Nørholm and the poet's cottage was
due before returning to the hotel.
The evening ended in Grimstad Hotel with plenty of
food and discussion. I had a talk with the actress Hanne
Dieserud, who told that her husband had played the role
of Nagel in the Norwegian television production of
Mysteries from 1996.
After this lunch comprising of something for the tongue as well as for the soul - the restaurant served us a salad - the next event was awaiting us at Dømmesmoen. Ola Veigaard bid welcome, and then Nils Magne Knutsen took us on a journey to Nordland: "The long way home - Knut Hamsun and Hamarøy". Hamsun had not written like he did, had he not had a longing for Nordland and his childhood. I had just heard this excellent lecture the week before in Hamarøy, but I could hear it again and again and here it was phrased slightly differently, as we were now in the deep south of Norway! At the same time he presented his new book "Knut Hamsun og Nordland - Den lange veien hjem." Hereby warmly recommended, and after the lecture Nils Magne was very busy writing greetings in the books sold.
After Nils Magne's lecture we went in another part of
Dømmesmoen, the Norwegian Museum for Horticulture, which
was completely full. Kjell Stormoen read from "On
overgrown Paths". No matter how well one knows this
text, we are all enchanted every time we listen to
Stormoen. And one more highlight awaited us: a lecture by
Inge Eidsvåg on "Growth of the Soil". "Oh,
Geissler was a master, he could act or abstain from
acting, shake his head or nod a yes. He could make a
village smile again." Inge Eidsvåg sees, like
I, Hamsun personified in the character Geissler, though
Hamsun is present with a fragment of himself in any of
the characters he describes.
After all these experiences we were all hungry, the restaurant Apotekergården offered their well-known fish soup at 8pm. We first sat on the terrace partly covered by parasols, but when it started to rain we moved into the courtyard where everybody was sheltered by a large awning. We were enjoying it, talking and drinking wine, but the fish-soup we had to wait for. Finally at 9. 40 it was served, but it was good.
Luckily the rain had stopped, so we hurried the few 100 meters up the Kirkeheia, where at 10.30 an extraordinary and poetic experience awaited us: "Love and eroticism. Knut Hamsun in poetry and prose"! Anneke von der Lippe and Sven Nordin presented texts from Pan, Victoria, Wilde Choir and from the short story On the Bench, all underlined by Stian Carstensen and his accordion. The light from a few lamps and burning torches around the stage gave a moving sentiment with Hamsun's texts and beautifully bound together by Nils-Magne Knutsen, we were all in a special mood when we drove home to the hotel and it was very late before the last conversations ended.
I'm sorry, Ibsen - but again an event that I had looked especially forward to, a meeting with some of the people who had been employed at Nørholm. First the exhibition, incredible interesting and well done, here we could learn about Hamsun as an employer, admire one of Marie's dresses, Hamsun's walking cane, Hamsun's letter box - no, not the famous from downtown Grimstad, but his own from Nørholm, Hamsun's record player, yes a special atmosphere ruled over the exhibition.
The Norwegian Gardening Museum was completely full, more than full, extra chairs were brought in and good spirits and animation ruled. I did not taste the Stampegraut, a dish that Hamsun had desired served at Nørholm though according to the employees it was only served once! The dish is a kind of mashed potatoes and flour served with butter.
At the end of the splendid and interesting days Toril and Leif Hamsun accompanied by Knut Møretrø came to see Hamsun's cave, which Møretrø just had discovered. August 1st the local newspaper, Grimstad Adressetidende, wrote about the discovery and presented a photo with Knut Møretrø in the cave. In his book "On overgrown Paths" Knut Hamsun writes about a cave, that he found during his walks from the old people's home in Landvik northwards along the Skiftenesveien. Knut Møretrø tells, that he had been looking for the cave and here everything fits the description from the book. Rubbish is still thrown down the hillside, as Hamsun described. With expectancy we descended the hillside remembering what Hamsun wrote. Now it was not Knut Hamsun seeking refuge in the cave but his grandchild Leif Hamsun, who found it a special experience to sit here. Karin Engh from Adresseavisen was also present and took pictures of Leif in the cave and I did not hesitate to fix the historical moment with my small camera. Yes, we are always experiencing new things in Hamsun's tracks, also things not found in the programme.
And then there were all the events, that I would have liked to participate in, but simply had no time for:
- The miner. Recital and guiding with Jens Olai Justvik and Jon Fløistad in the mines at Lerestveit.
- On overgrown Paths. A guided tour over Møllerheia.
- Four Ibsen-biographers. A dive into the poet's life. With Ivo de Figueiredo, Astrid Sæther, Erik H. Edvardsen, Joen Bille and Oddbjørn Johannessen.
- Terje Vigen at Kvaløya with Sven Nordin.
- Ibsen-experiences. With Gisken Armand and Joen Bille, music by Stian Carstensen, Kirkeheia.
- Terje Vigen. Victor Sjöström's silent film from 1916 with live music composed and performed by Ketil Bjørnstadt.
Really a cornucopia of experiences!
Everything comes to en end, after a day with Marianne
Hamsun I packed "Nagel" and set course towards
Kristiansand and the ferry to Hirtshals. Rarely have I
seen so many people and cars, the ferry was packed to
close that one could only enter one's car when the row
next to it had left the ferry. And we had a gale, the
ferry rolled and tossed, many became seasick - an
experience that I luckily still have ahead of me!
|© Kirsten Hedvig Rasmussen||www.hamsun.at|