Hamsun conference in Tromsø 2003.

Stille og tyst allevegne. jeg ligger utover kvælden og ser ut av vinduet. En Feglans hvilte på denne tid over mark og skog, solen var gåt under og farvet horisonten med et fett, rødt lys som stod stille som olje, Himlen var overalt åpen og ren, jeg stirret ind i dette klare hav og det var som om jeg lå ansigt til ansigt med verdens bund og som om mit hjærte klappet inderlig imot denne bare bund og var hjemme der.
Knut Hamsun ( Pan )

"Tid og rom i Hamsuns forfatterskab" (Time and space in Hamsun's works) was the title on the invitation for the 3. International Hamsun Conference in Tromsø 25.-27. September, third maybe but the first for me. Though I have done my best to participate in every Hamsun event since 1996 I sometimes have to be present only in mind, hard as it may be!!
As usual I do not know how to start, where to commence, how I envy those people who can produce interesting accounts on demand.
Words one can at least work upon, I do wish it had been possible with pictures also. Dear me, what a photographer I have been this time. Instead of brightening up this page most of my photographs were put furthest away in the drawer. They could easily have taken the price as the worst pictures of the year.

I did tell her to get a better camera!

All those happy experiences I had, the intense beautiful landscape, snow clad mountains shining in the rays of the sun or hiding behind fog or rain or under snow, a short glimpse of the sun playing with my senses all background for the highlight: the warm community spirit around Hamsun's poetry.

Tromsø met me with snow and slush, I looked in despair at my shoes, they had seemed much too warm in 27° warm Karlsruhe but here the cold iced through the thin soles. the sweater that gave the impression of a heatstroke upon touching it while packing the suitcase, now looked thin and cold. To make it short: After breakfast acquisition of new winter clothes. I had arrived one day early to have time to stroll around in Tromsø, to pat the Roald Amundsen monument and breathe North Norwegian air. I will never forget the hospitality I was met with immediately upon arrival: an invitation for waffles and coffee in Nils Magne Knutsen's cottage, diner, fish cake and red wine and a good talk with Nils Magne and Astrid before I was given a lift back to the hotel, where the lecturers had started to show up: Martin Humpal from Prague was already there, we had a good talk before going to bed, a new and interesting acquaintance had been made.

I enjoy the view from Nils Magne's cottage.

The next day lecturers arrived at the hotel, the weather was not the best, in the hours before the conference started a book was more tempting that a stroll in the slush and fog over the mountains. Hamsun's words in print is fine but what could be more encouraging that the discussions on Hamsun's sparkling and fantastic talent with other literature lovers that took place the following days, then one cannot avoid being in one's element.

Full with anticipation I sat with other literature lovers to listen to Even Arntzens opening speech. We were all looking forward to be confronted with different lines and approaches on Hamsun's literary works. Tromsø University is really the capacity on Hamsun research.

It had been possible to catch busy Ingar Sletten Kolloen, who is travelling around Norway giving lectures, presenting and signing his big Hamsun biography „Svermeren" (The dreamer). He gave us a an interesting picture of the work upon „Knut Hamsun og det biografiske rom" (Knut Hamsun and the biographical space).

Having been taken into the Hamsun mood, we then listened to Svenn B. Syrin reading from Børn av tiden og Det vilde kor (Children of the age and Island off the coast).

Afterwards the talks continue over white wine and snacks, which gave more appetite so some of us continued the session in town at "Skarven" where we fed body and soul on good food, drinks and discussions on - guess what - Hamsun for a change.

Next day started with a lecture by assistant professor Martin Humpal, Prague: "Tid i Hamsuns sakprosa" (Time in Hamsun's prose). A most well prepared and interesting lecture, given in perfect Norwegian.

Martin Humpal

No, I did not take notes nor have I made a summary of the lectures. You may read them in extenso later in the year, when they will appear as conference proceedings. I have had so much pleasure of the series of books of conference proceedings published by the Hamsun Society over the years: hereby warmly recommended.

Assistant professor Anne Sæbø, St. Olaf College USA: „Syklisk tid og panteistisk rom i Hamsuns religionssyn" (Cyclic time and pantheistic space in Hamsun's religious conviction). I was looking especially forward to this lecture, as I have been corresponding with Anne for about 3 years and have read her superb dissertation "The ubermensch comes to Scandinavia: Rereading Hamsun and Dinesen in the light of Nietzsche's philosophy" of which I have a copy with her greetings. The lecture was excellent and rendered with wit and charm.

Stipendiat Linda Nesby, Tromsø: „ Krono-bio-topos. En studie av tidens betydning i Markens Grøde" (Krono-bio-topos. A study on the significance of time in Growth of the Soil). Isn't it amazing what one may focus on in Hamsun's novels, an interesting approach. In my collection I have - also with personal greetings - Linda's study „Livets roman og døden som siste kapitel. En analyse av Knut Hamsuns roman Siste kapitel 1923 med utgangspunkt i begrebet ironi" (The novel on life and death as final chapter. An analysis of Knut Hamsun's novel Chapter the Last based on the term irony).

Anne Sæbø Linda Nesby

Lunch break, though it is important not only to feed the mind but also the body, the breaks were used extensively to exchange views and opinions and to form new friendships.

Førsteamanuensis Even Arntzen, Tromsø: "Ingen døre blev låset av for mig. Student Parelius og det voyeuristiske rom" (To me no doors were locked. Student Parelius and the voyeuristic space). As usual did Even deliver a sparkling and exciting lecture. One almost felt like being a witness to baroness Edvarda's and Gilbert Lapp's intense meeting at the lake.

Assistant professor of Norwegian Troy Storfjell, University of Colorado: "Samene i Markens grødes kartlægning av en (umulig) idyl" (The Laplanders in Growth of the Soil. Mapping of an (impossible) idyll). "Den lange, lange Sti over Myrene og ind i skogene, hvem har trakket op den?" (The long, long path over the moors and into the forest, who has trodden it?) Hamsun begins his novel and whom do we automatically see? Isak! but here we got an interesting lecture, where the Laplanders appeared before our eyes, walking along the path long before Isak!

Professor Per Thomas Andersen, Oslo concluded the days lectures with the theme "Stedets monogami. Sellanrå nok en gang" (The monogamy of locus, Sellanrå one more time) a delightful lecture spiced by slides showing Emil Nolde's beautiful floral paintings, they perfectly matched the lecture.

Troy Storfjell

The university book shop had invited to a small sales exhibition and offered drinks. A quick glance, yes, I had everything in my collection, so I could relax over more Hamsun discussions over the drinks and snacks. Outside the weather had changed to beautiful sunshine over snow clad mountains.

But the day had not yet come to an end, at 8pm dinner and lots of interesting talks at a restaurant at downtown Tromsø, I really do not know how it happens, but time moves terribly fast when in good company, so it was suddenly several hours later when I finally found my hotel.

Next day still beautiful weather, first lecture brought Danish language around: Danish born førsteamunuensis Elisabeth Oxfeldt, Oslo: on "Ingen-steder i Hamsuns orientalske rejseskildringer" (No-where in Hamsun's oriental travels), a fiery lecture that brought us along on Hamsun's travel adventures and pictured the differences in the two descriptions I æventyrland and Under halvmånen.

Professorstipendiat Henning H. Wærp, Tromsø: "Aspene i utmarken". Om Edevarts stedstap i Hamsuns Landstrykere (1927) og August (1930)" (The aspens in the wilderness. On Edevart's loss of space in Hamsun's Vagabonds (1927) and August (1930)). The title had induced Wærp to (in vain) a search for aspen in Tromsø, quite a humorous introduction to a grand lecture on Hamsun's two well known characters, Edevart and August.

Professor Steinar Gimnes, Trondheim: "Skogen som `rom` hos Hamsun" (The forest as space in Hamsun's works), here we were taken on a picnic through some of Hamsun's novels. Have you realized how much room the forest takes up in Hamsun's novels? Indeed.

Again a well deserved lunch break, where the literary discussions continued. The weather remained beautiful and the view breathtaking for a person born in a country with 178 meters as it highest peak. How beautiful it is here.

Førsteamanuensis Atle Skaftun, Høgskolen i Stavanger: "En skikkelse i et occult landskab: Omkring Hamsuns Børn av tiden" (A character in an occult landscape: On Hamsun's Children of the Age), a lecture that reminded me of Atle's newly published dissertation "Knut Hamsuns dialogiske realisme. En studie av Børn av tiden, Nabobyen og På gjengrodde stier med særlig fokus på autorposisjon, plot og personer". The book is in my collection with Atle's greetings.

Førsteamanuensis Britt Andersen, Trondheim: "Intertekstualitet og modernitetskritikk i Hamsuns roman Ringen sluttet". A lecture that I listed to with special delight since I had heard Britt in Hamarøy in 2000, corresponded with her since and admired hers views on Hamsun's female characters, where she has a different perspective than most researchers.

Last but certainly not least literary reviewer Øystein Rottem, Copenhagen: "Handelens og poesiens sfære i ny jord." (The universe of commerce and poeticism in Shallow Soil). The novel, though it is generally considered one of Hamsun's weaker works, is one of my favourites. Øystein, like always a pleasure to listen to, has the gift to open Hamsun's world to us. In my collection at home I have numerous books and articles by Øystein including Copenhagen, Hurtigruten (coastal liner), aqua vitae, pleasure reading and fantasy just to mention some of the topics and all with personal greetings.

Øystein Rottem

I found it exciting with the 3 very different lectures on Growth of the Soil, I wonder if we could have a conference with themes on just one of Hamsun's novels - too way off maybe but I would find it most interesting!

Even Arntzen could now contentedly conclude the magnificent and advantageous days. The end - well quite finished we had not: those who felt like it met at a downtown restaurant for a delicious fish menu, where Hamsun quotations elegantly flew back and forth between fish soup and wine, some quotations by Strindberg and others meddled in. Nightlife in Tromsø!! Well, you just have to experience it, the atmosphere and the street life, again it became late and a long walk on foot threatened since the were long queues at the taxi stands, but some distance out we succeeded to get the taxi, an hours hike a 4 in the morning is not my favourite.

EvenArntzen and the writer

Everything comes to an end, also wonderful experiences, so I boarded the airplane Sunday afternoon. Heartfelt thanks to Even Arntsen and his team for select, profitable and inspiring days. I can only recommend to plan a holiday in Tromsø for the next Hamsun conference in 4 years!


© Kirsten Hedvig Rasmussen www.hamsun.at