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DVD Talk review of 'Hamsun'

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DVD Talk review of 'Hamsun'

Old 06-20-06, 12:12 PM
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DVD Talk review of 'Hamsun'

I read DVD Savant's DVD review of Hamsun at http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/read.php?ID=22308 and...
just for your information, the British invented the concentration camp during the Boer Wars. The camps were used to hold women and children, as the men were out on a guerilla war. This was a deliberate effort to end the war, and the many deaths from disease and exposure did contribute to the British victory.
Old 06-20-06, 01:19 PM
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Patherto, you're absolutely right about the history of concentration camps, but as far as I can tell, Savant generally doesn't follow forum postings about his reviews. If you want to answer his footnote, you should send him an e-mail. (He's quite responsive to e-mail.)

I have to confess that I've never seen this movie, though I've read several of Hamsun's early novels and know his biography. A Norwegian friend of mine thinks quite highly of this film and recommends Hamsun's final book, a memoir entitled On Overgrown Paths (1949), as a companion piece to the film.

In a way, it's a shame that, for most English speakers, Hamsun is known primarily for the mistakes of his old age (as depicted in this film and as reflected in an Ann Coulter article from a few years ago). Certainly, Hamsun did collaborate with the Quisling government of occupied Norway, and he wrote pro-German propoganda and eulogized Hitler after Hitler's suicide. Nevertheless, Hamsun was a remarkable author and one of the pioneers of literary Modernism. Yet his bad political decisions late in life have overshadowed everything else about him. So do we condemn him outright, ignore his literary output, view his life story as a cautionary tale, excuse his actions as the muddled decisions of a senile or detached old curmudgeon, or what? And should we take the same viewpoint to other writers with similarly problematic biographies (like the English humorist P.G. Wodehouse and the American poet Ezra Pound)?

It's also a shame that the recent two-volume biography of Hamsun by Ingar Kolloen has not yet been translated into English. According to a recent New Yorker article, Kolloen has investigated this aspect of Hamsun's life more intensely and objectively than any previous biographer. Although I haven't read it yet, this biography apparently proves that Hamsun's collaboration was far more complicated than even Troell's film suggests. (It's also worth noting that the SS seems to have recruited more from Scandinavia -- Denmark and Norway -- than from any other occupied country during the war, which would suggest that Hamsun's -- and Quisling's, for that matter -- collaboration was not as exceptional as post-war leaders wanted to make out. EDIT: Actually, I may be remembering those statistics incorrectly. Perhaps I'm thinking of the Netherlands; I know that there was a whole Dutch SS division.)

Oh, and by the way, Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish are far more closely related than Italian and Spanish. In fact, Norwegian was "invented," to a certain extent, by altering Danish during the Norwegian nationalist movement of the late nineteenth century -- and it's worth noting that Hamsun played a large role in that effort, too. (His breakthrough novel "Hunger" was written in highly self-conscious Norwegian.) Today, Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians are more or less mutually intelligible to one another.

Last edited by Ambassador; 06-20-06 at 01:32 PM.

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