Knud Pedersen – 2

By Christopher Zoukis

At the age of 39, in 1898, Hamsun married Bergljot Goepfert.  The couple divorced in 1906 because of Hamsun’s bizarre perspective on life.  Bergljot found him difficult to be around, depressed much of the time, moody and demanding. 

Three years later, Hamsun married a very pretty, very sexy actress neamed Marie Andersen.  Planning on becoming farmers, thus realizing Hamsun’s dream of returning to the soil and a natural way of life, they bought a farm.  The reality of nature and farming quickly proved unpalatable to Hamsun.  The pure life was not nearly as much fun, nor as spiritually stimulating as he imagined.

They sold the farm.

Then they moved south, to Larvik, and shortly thereafter bought the manor house near Grimstad. 

Hamsun’s ultra-conservative political outlook, along with his personal history of growing up poor and hungry, led him to champion Hitler’s National Socialist movement in Germany.  He met personally with Hitler and with Joseph Goebbels.  Goebbels so impressed him, that Hamsun sent his Nobel Prize medal to Goebbels as a gift. 

Hamsun, in his zeal, made the mistake of writing and publishing Hitler’s obituary.  Published in the Aftenposten, Norway’s leading newspaper, he praised Hitler as a “warrior for mankind.”  Disgusted with such drivel, his irate countrymen burned Hamsun’s books or sent them back to him through the mail.

In the aftermath of the war, Hamsun was charged with collaboration and treason.  Supposedly, Hamsun was a member of Vidkun Quisling’s Nasjonal Samling.  Quisling, of course, was the Norwegian politician who betrayed his country to the Nazis.  As a reward, the Nazis made Quisling their puppet ruler in Norway.  On his part, Hamsun denied ever belonging to any political party in his memoir.

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Knud Pedersen

By Christopher Zoukis  Image courtesy

It is summer and the sun is shining.  Off to the east rugged mountain peaks serrate against a soft blue sky.  A breeze strong enough to be annoying shoves steadily at plants, animals and human beings.  On the plus side, though, the air is fresh and tastes of salt and smells of pine.

The tombstone is made of white granite with gray and black flecks in it.  Oblong in shape, it stands four feet tall.  On the top sits a gray cast iron bust, wearing an armless coat and tie.  A handlebar moustache banners under a flaring nose, and the iron head has no hair.  I wonder if he went bald, or shaved his head?  A photograph of him at age thirty shows a full head of hair, wire rim glasses and a solid, handsome face.

His ashes are in a small wooden box, and the box sits encased within the cast iron bust.  The box is decorated with mythological beasts, one being a unicorn.

Nearby sits his manor house, which, when he first bought it, was near to falling down from neglect.  He had it restored and redecorated.   

From good breeding stock, he remained healthy until his death at age ninety-two.  They say, though, that he had “permanently impaired mental capabilities” in his last years.  But it was pure speculation.  No, it was more than that – it was judgment palmed off as fact.  It was what they wished were true.  And they hoped that by saying it, it would come true.  For they were embarrassed by him, even scandalized by him.

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