Knut Pedersen Hamsun was born in Lom, Norway on August 4, 1860 and grew up in poverty on the Lofoten Islands. At the age of 17, Hamsun became an apprentice to a ropemaker and also began to dabble in writing. This eventually became his full-time career. The author of the books The Intellectual Life of Modern America, Hunger, and Pan, Hamsun is considered one of the most influential European novelists of the last 100 years. In 1920, Hamsun's novel, Growth of Soil, a book describing the attraction and honesty of working with the land, won the Nobel Prize for Literature. As a supporter of Hitler and the Nazi Occupation of Norway during World War II, Hamsun was charged with treason for his affiliation with the party after the war ended. His property was seized, he was placed under psychiatric observation, and his last years were spent in poverty. Hamsun died on February 19, 1952. A 15-volume compilation of his complete works was published posthumously in 1954.
Paul Auster was born on February 3, 1947, in Newark, New Jersey. In addition to his career as a writer, Auster has been a census taker, tutor, merchant seaman, little-league baseball coach, and a telephone operator. After graduating from Columbia in 1970, he started his writing career as a translator. He soon gained popularity for the detective novels that make up his New York Trilogy. Auster's novel, "The Invention of Solitude," is a memoir exploring the relationship he had with his father. Auster has gradually shifted from mystery writing to science fiction. His other works include "Leviathan" and "Moon Palace." In addition to his novels, Auster has written screenplays and directed several films. He is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a French Prix Medicis for Foreign Literature.
Robert Bly lives on a farm in his native state of Minnesota. He edited The Seventies magazine, which he founded as The Fifties and in the next decade called The Sixties. In 1966, with David Ray, he organized American Writers Against the Vietnam War. The Light Around the Body, which won the National Book Award in 1968, was strongly critical of the war in Vietnam and of American foreign policy. Since publication of Iron John: A Book About Men (1990), a response to the women's movement, Bly has been immensely popular, appearing on talk shows and advising men to retrieve their primitive masculinity through wildness. Bly is also a translator of Scandinavian literature, such as Twenty Poems of Tomas Transtromer. Through the Sixties Press and the Seventies Press, he introduced little-known European and South American poets to American readers. His magazines have been the center of a poetic movement involving the poets Donald Hall, Louis Simpson, and James Wright.