Norway's Black Sheep
Dreamer and Dissenter.
By Ingar Sletten Kolloen.
Translated by Deborah Dawkin and Erik Skuggevik.
Yale Univ. Press. 378 pp. $40
Knut Hamsun may lack name recognition in the English-speaking world, but the admiration of his contemporaries suggests the stature he once enjoyed. “The whole modern school of fiction in the 20th century stems from Hamsun, just as Russian literature in the 19th century ‘came out of Gogol’s greatcoat,’ ” declared Isaac Bashevis Singer. To Henry Miller, Hamsun was “the Dickens of my generation.” Hamsun received the world’s greatest literary honor in 1920. Summing up the modernist literary consensus, Thomas Mann issued a characteristically...