Norway’s literary hero-turned-outcast Hamsun on coin

Hamsun coin Poto: Norges Bank.

A silver coin to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Norwegian author Knut Hamsun. Photo: Norges Bank.

OSLO (AFP) — Norway will put Nobel literature laureate Knut Hamsun, who became an outcast and was charged with treason after World War II for his Nazi sympathies, on a commemorative coin, the central bank said Friday.

“It is the author we are celebrating,” Leif Veggum, a central bank director, told AFP.

The coin, to be launched on February 19 on the 150th anniversary of Hamsun’s birth, will be the first commemorative coin dedicated to the author of such masterpieces as “Hunger” (1890), “Victoria” (1898) and “Growth of the Soil” (1917).

It will carry a nominal value of 200 kroner (22.60 euros, 28.90 dollars), but will initially be sold for 450 kroner, the bank said.

Long hailed as a national hero, Hamsun’s final years until his death in 1952 were spent in social isolation in a country 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, Norwegian authorities charged Hamsun with treason. But psychiatrists declared him to have weakened mental capacities, and the charges were dropped.

Despite the fact that Hamsun is one of only three Norwegians to have received the Nobel Literature Prize, neither Oslo nor his hometown of Grimstad have ever named a street or square after the author and only a handful of towns in the Scandinavian country have done so.

Source: AFP News

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