Norway honors writer Hamsun with mixed feelings
OSLO: Some 15 years ago, sculptor Skule Waksvik started work on a statue of 1920 Nobel Literature Prize winner Knut Hamsun, a Norwegian admired by his countrymen for his writing — and despised for supporting the Nazis during World War II.
“No one wanted it,” said Waksvik. “I threw it away.”
Waksvik is trying again, this time with a 7-foot (2.1-meter) bronze statue ordered for the National Library’s Hamsun Year, which started Thursday and culminates with the 150th anniversary of the writer’s birth on Aug. 4, 1859. He’s prepared for angry reactions.
“I know it might get knocked over or vandalized,” said Waksvik.
The idea of honoring Hamsun, reviled as a traitor after 1940-45 Nazi occupation of Norway, stirs angry debate here, 57 years after his death in 1952. Hamsun supported Norwegian traitor Vidkun Quisling and his collaborationist government, gave his Nobel medal to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, and wrote an obituary praising Hitler in 1945.