"In comparison with Bjørnson's is for example Ibsen's poetry pure mechanical office work. Ibsen's verses are based on rhyme hitting rhyme with a crack; most of his plays are dramatised pulp." Mysteries. Knut Hamsun.

I see the two poets sitting on a cloud looking down on us. The air is electric, like an inaudible echo of the voices of the poets, sounding between us.

Yes, the letter box is still there. I see Hamsun coming tip-toeing across the street to mail a letter to Nørholm.

In high spirits I set out for Hirtshals and the ferry to Kristiansand. Together with so many people, some on the way in the holidays, others suntanned on their way home. There were many languages heard around me. Destination was Grimstad, where Ibsen and Hamsun again were united to the joy of us all from 11-14 August.

I had brought with me a splendid booklet: Henrik Ibsen's Own caricatures 1850-52. by Martin Nag. Excellent entertainment and the drawings are so funny, so I was having a good time onboard the ferry.
The drive on the new E18 also went fine after the dead-slow leaving the ferry and passing customs.

It was terrific feeling, was I really here in the midst of the beautiful South-Norwegian landscape, together with dedicated Hamsun and Ibsen-friend? The loss of Ola Veigaard was my only regret. He was an indispensable and good friend, he taught me much about Hamsun.

11 August, a lecture by Even Arntzen in Cafe Galleri. "Lykke og værensfylde i Hamsuns forfatterskap". (Happiness and meaning of life in Hamsun's works). The cafe was filled with known und unknown people. It was such a good feeling meeting old friends again and share the anticipation of the coming days' experiences.

Even held as always and interesting and wise lecture on the theme " when and in which situations disaster turns into happiness, emptiness into vitality into meaning of life". He is indeed familiar with Hamsun.

 

"Gud straffe dig Alvilda" (May God punish you Alvilda) on jealousy and crimes of passion in Knut Hamsun's works. In this lecture Wenche Torrissen and Nils Magne Knutsen gave an overview on the motive jealousy in Hamsun's poetry. Nobody has like Hamsun described the destructive powers of jealousy so intensely and passionate. The lecture was formed like a dialogue between the always lively Nils Magne and Wenche, a real pleasure to witness.

After a stroll in the light summer evening down the main street to the Sorenskrivergården, we were seated around a beautifully laid table. "Hamsun with knife and fork", a gastronomically encounter with Hamsun's novels "Hunger", "Benoni", "Pan", and "Growth of the Soil" A 3-course meny was served to each of the novels and the main characters' preferences in food were reflected in the menus.

"Jeg hadde intet å gi de fremmede som de vilde ha, jeg tænkte på det og vilde steke en fugl for løiers skyld; de skulde få det på jægervis, i fingrene. det kunde være et lite tidsfordriv. Og jeg stekte den fugl." (Pan)

It was a splendid evening. Before every meal, the cheerful hosts told from the novel that had inspired the dishes. Really a unique idea, entree, main course and desert and this four times with different delicacies. We were all sated in body as well as in mind as we walked back to the hotel and over a drink chatted about the experiences of the day .

 
Hege Faust, me and Leif Hamsun and Sigrunn Veigaard

The next day again offered interesting experiences. Together with Leif and Even I visited the churchyard at Eide church, where several of the Hamsun family are buried. We also passed by the poet's cottage at Nørholm, which we as usual approached with reverence. It is as though Hamsun's spirit is still hovering over the roof, as the cottage lies there with it's overgrown steps and reminds us of a lost époque.

In the evening there was again an interesting lecture on in the Cafe Galleri. Here Hans Grelland held a most perceptive lecture titled "Si meg hva du føler!" (Tell me, what you feel) about emotions and passions in literature.

The evening continued with a superb, wise and most interesting conversation between Vigdis Hjort and Fred Artur Asdal. The title was "Dikter i dikternes by" (Poet in the city of poets). The cheerful Vigdis made laughter roar at the same time as we were served wise and philosophic words.

"Kjærlighet til glede og besvær" (Love, a pleasure and a nuisance) was next on the programme. An evening with great emotions, love, jealousy and hatred, conveyed through some of Hamsun's poems read by Inger-Helen Kilsti accompanied by gipsy-music performed by "Sturm und Drang". An excellent performance, where Inger-Helen at the end gave roses to the audience. Playing in the band "Sturm og Drang" are Ragner Heyerdahl, Eilif Moe, Per Karang, Svein Haugen and Magne Henriksen. A beautiful conclusion on a lovely day.

"Frøken, det er Dem jeg fortæller for, sa han så alle hørte det. De står som et sølvkors i solen. Det er ikke bare Deres skjønhet som er så stor, men det er Deres ungdom, Deres dejlige ungdom. De beruser mig med den og jeg blir gal etter den. Se nu Deres armer, hvor det er blod under huden på dem." (Erobreren) Kratskog.

In Grimstad you can now admire one of the beautiful sculptures by Nina Sundby ,"Victoria", standing on the Bietorvet square radiating.

And the same square Bietorvet was the centre of next day's experiences. The square was filled with people in the beautiful weather. The programme was dance by Allegro Ballettstudio. Students of all ages gave splendid displays in beautiful costumes, every piece delivered with energy to the music of jazz, show-jazz, street-jazz, hip-hop, break-dance, classical, children's dances and folklore.

Afterwards there was street-theatre with Lars Arstad and Morten Liene. Two hungry men perform in the street, make pictures in places connected with Ibsen and Hamsun. A very exiting and interesting idea.


Me, Sigrunn Veigaard and Leif Hamsun

And as always there was the Ibsen afternoon on the island of Kvaløya. I was, alas, not able to participate, as my health still puts a stop at certain times. I do know from others, that it was a splendid afternoon in beautiful weather. On the lawn there was first a concert with Hilde Louise Asbjørnsen and as usual coffee and waffles were served. Then, as tradition demands it, Terje Vigen was recited, this year by the actress Ane Dahl Torp. I know from previous years how emotional it is, when the dramatic verses sound over the bay.

Da yacten drejed for Hesnæs-sund,
den reiste det norske flag.
Lidt længere vest er en skumklædt grund, -
der gav den 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 haè tak da, Gud!"

Last day offered two events, where I could not participate. "Hamsun's ruslespor - Brevkortet." (Hamsun's hiking track - the postcard). Luckily I had done the hike several times, so I could be there in mind. Hamsun describes in "On overgrown Paths" his hikes in the area. The hikes wore out his shoes and he wrote a postcard to his home, Nørholm, asking for new shoes. As he was not allowed to enter the town centre and would not want to be discovered, he laid his hikes over the hills down to the mailbox.

Later in the day one could be "På to hjul med Ibsen og Hamsun" (On two wheels with Ibsen and Hamsun). The tour passes several places in town, Fjære church, Dømmesmoen and Landvik as well as Hamsun's cave at Luetjenn. As I still cannot mount a bike, Leif Hamsun and I went by car to the cave, a really historical place, that brings many thoughts to mind.

Sunday evening we had a very unusual event, the "Mountain-bird" by Henrik Ibsen, a new Norwegian opera by Grusomhetens teater. Grusomhetens teater wrote theatre-history as they had first performance of Ibsen's unfinished opera libretto "Fjeldfuglen". As the programme says:

Grusomhetens teater reveals the national-romanticism and it's picture of naive, innocent Norwegian peasants. The history told is the myth about the Jostedals-grouse, wandering around in the Norwegian mountains in the times of the black death. The mood of the opera is melodramatic, expressive and stylized, the costumes partly copied from the painting Brudeferden i Hardanger, and the music is partly inspired by folklore partly completely contemporary.

I'm still not sure what to think about the "Fjeldfuglen", it was so peculiar. But I guess that sometimes it is wise to reflect and discuss new ways of seeing and experiencing.

The evening was concluded with a midnight snack at the hotel, before I next morning had to say goodbye for this time and set course for Kristiansand and the ferry to Denmark. Rain had now commenced and followed me all the way to Denmark.

Again there have been many and unforgettable experiences. Many heartfelt thanks to the foundation Ibsen - Hamsun in Grimstad for an exiting programme, that once again made our horizon wider and ourselves a little wiser. I really look forward to coming back again next year.

Kirsten Hedvig Rasmussen


© Kirsten Hedvig Rasmussen www.hamsun.at