27 Apr 2010

Can you name any famous Norwegian?

It is surprising that such small country with nearly 5 million population and only 200 years history of independence would be a womb of 11 geniuses awarded by Nobel Prize Committee, huh? My country is famous from intelligent people and truly it is a womb of many geniuses, but many of them or their ancestors unfortunately left Poland and their output contributed in foreign countries e.g. physicians such as Józef Rotblat and Georges Charpak, chemists such as Maria Curie-Skłodowska, and Roald Hoffmann, biochemists such as Andrew Schally and Tadeusz Reichstein, writers such as Isaac Bashevis Singer, biologists such as Jack W. Szostak and Stanisław Kaczmarczyk, who recently invented a method to restrain cancer cells in our bodies and many many other brilliant people, who left my country for better life. Anyway, the topic of this post is to introduce the most famous Norwegians who had or have a significant impact on human thought within Norway as well as globally. To begin with, Nobel Prize Winners, they have an impact for sure.


1903 - Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (Literature). Bjørnson is celebrated for his lyrics to the Norwegian National Anthem, "Ja, vi elsker dette landet", which means "Yes, we love this country".
1920 - Knut Hamsun (Literature) – awarded for the epic “Growth of the soil”.
1921 - Christian Lous Lange (Peace Prize) – a noted pacifist.
1922 - Fridtjof Nansen (Peace Prize) - for his work as a League of Nations High Commissioner.
1928 - Sigrid Undset (Literature) - experimented with modernist tropes such as stream of consciousness in her novel.
1968 - Lars Onsager (Chemistry) – as many genius he went to the USA.
1969 - Odd Hassel (Chemistry) – he investigated the structure of charge-transfer compounds and set up rules for the geometry of this kind of compound.
1969 - Ragnar Frisch (Economics) – He was known for econometrics and formalized production theory.
1973 - Ivar Giaever (Physics) - for his discoveries regarding tunnelling phenomena in solids.
1989 - Trygve Haavelmo (Economics) – known from probability approach in econometrics and balanced budget multiplier.
2004 - Finn Erling Kydland (Economics) - for his contributions to dynamic macroeconomics: the time consistency of economic policy and the driving forces behind business cycles.

Three Nobel Prizes in Economics Sciences!? I’m impressed. Furthermore, those who study economics should know Veblen’s goods, so their inventor - Thorstein Bunde Veblen had Norwegian roots.

Let’s come back to the very beginning, to the Vikings’ age. One of the first Christian Norwegian, son of the Erik the Red, Leif Eriksson that became famous because of his virgin journey to the West, where he discovered a rocky and salmon-rich land, that is called nowadays Canada. According to Groenlendinga Saga he discovered the North America AD 1000. From that time for hundreds of years it has been doing nothing on the Norwegian land that was once in the Danish hands and once in the Swedish hands.

The state of inaction has been lasting in Norway until 1850 when Henrik Johan Ibsen moved to Christiania, where it was his stage debut – at Christiania Theater staged Kjæmpehøien (Tomb of the Huns). Ibsen is the most famous Norwegian dramaturg, the author od such masterpieces as Vilanden, Når vi døde Wagner or Peer Gynt. Peer Gynt contains philosophical Messager of criticism arising from the attitudes of Norwegians staring AT themselves and spirituals neuter. The title is the name of the main charakter – slothful and selfish peasant. Ibsen commisioned Grieg to compose music for Peer Gynt that Has made this work famous. Edvard Hagerup Grieg was the most famous Noregian composer, pianist and conductor with Scottish origin. Moreover, he was a founder of the Norwegian national music school. Apart from Ibsen, the next famous novelist and playwright was Jonas Lauritz Idemil Lie. In his works, Jonas Lie often sought to reflect in his writings the nature, folk life, and social spirit of the nation of Norway. Jonas is considered to have been one of the Four Greats of 19th century Norwegian literature, together with Henrik Ibsen, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, and Alexander Kielland. Among Kielland’s most famous Works are the trilogy Gift, Fortuna and St. Hans Fest. In this trilogy, Kielland satirizes the hypocrisy of Norway’s clergy including debate about the hunger for Latin chich Norwegian teachers had AT this period of time.

Let’s have a look at Norwegian artists. I know at least two of them – Edvard Munch and Gustav Vigeland. Munch was creating a symbolic figure compositions, giving vent to them in expressive erotic obsessions, feelings of loneliness, depression, fear of illness and death. He became a famous painter because of his picture The Scream. On the other hand, Vigeland, sculptor, whom building of park complex in Oslo brought a fame. Works on the Vigeland’s park started in 1907 and were continued after his death until the 1940s. Gustav was actually only a designer of sculptures placed in the park – all the sculptural work was performed by his team of hired masons, foundry and blacksmiths.

Before I’ll move on to the present times, I’d like mention about Roald Amundsen, another famous Norwegian. He was a polar explorer and the first winner of the South Pole. In my opinion he was also a hero, because in 1928 he went down to help Nobile Umberto, who disappeared during a zeppelin flight Italia in Arctic. Nobile was found, but Roald was never found. Now, in scope of my favourite contemporary Norwegian musicians are Jan Garbarek, Erlend Øye from Kings of Convenience band. Garbarek is a high class Norwegian jazzman with Polish roots and he is regarded as one of the most import ant contemporary jazz musicians as well as the father of Scandinavian jazz scene. Another Norwegian I like is a film direktor Joachim Trier who received several national awards for his debut film Reprise from 2006. Meanwhile, one Norwegian I admire is Erling Kagge, a lawyer, publisher and explorer. He is among Norway’s most acclaimed polar explorers and one of the greatest adventurers of our time. Erling was the first person to surmount the three poles – North, South and the summit of Mt Everest.

For more information about famous Norwegians go to wikipedia

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