Norway honours Nobel outcast Hamsun with stamp, museum

5th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

The honours recognised the literary standing of a writer who, years after having won the Nobel Literature Prize, fell into disgrace for his Nazi leanings.

Oslo -- Norway honoured the Nobel prize-winning writer Knut Hamsun, disgraced for his wartime Nazi sympathies, by issuing a stamp and opening a museum in his honour on Tuesday, the 150th anniversary of the birth.

Norway Post said it had issued a 25-kroner (2.9-euro, 4.1-dollar) stamp featuring the face of author who won the Nobel Literature Prize in 1920.

The new stamp makes Hamsun the last of Norway's three winners of the prize to be honoured in this way.

"The time has come to honour Hamsun's work. All Norwegian authors who have won the Nobel prize have finally appeared on stamps," said Halvor Fasting, the head of Norway Post's Philatelic Services.

Also Tuesday, the new Hamsun Centre dedicated to the author's life and work was opened in the author's childhood village of Hamaroey by Crown Princess Mette-Marit.

The honours recognised the literary standing of a writer who, years after having won the Nobel Literature Prize, fell into disgrace for his Nazi leanings. Hamsun even presented his Nobel medal to Hitler's propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.

In July, Norway's foreign ministry issued a statement making it clear that they had not forgotten the writer's controversial political beliefs.

"Hamsun’s Nazi sympathies are a sordid part of his life. He received massive condemnation for them after the war, and they have been debated in Norway for many years.

"Also this aspect of Hamsun’s life is duly noted as part of the commemoration of Hamsun’s anniversary," the statement said.

Long hailed as a national hero, Hamsun's final years until his death in 1952 were spent in poverty and social isolation.

Many in Norway were deeply embarrassed and enraged by his decision in 1940 at the age of 80 to support the pro-Nazi regime of Norwegian collaborator Vidkun Quisling.

When the Scandinavian country was liberated from the German occupation in 1945, Hamsun only escaped trial for treason because psychiatrists declared him to have weakened mental capacities.

AFP/Expatica

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