Knut Hamsun (born 4 August, 1859; died 19 February, 1952), pictured above in an 1871 photograph, aged twelve
'In the evenings I would wander about the forest, or the churchyard, reading the inscriptions on the tombstones and thinking of this and that. Also, I was looking for a thumbnail, from a dead body. I needed this nail for a whim I had, a caprice. I had found a splendid piece of birch root, from which I intended to carve a pipe bowl in the shape of a clenched fist. The thumb was to form a lid, and I wanted to cut a nail into it, to make it really lifelike. The ring finger was to be encircled by a little gold ring.
With such trivialities as these, my mind was soothed and salved. My life was free from hurry, I could daydream without neglecting some duty, the evenings were my own. If possible, I wanted also to work up a little feeling for the sanctity of the church, and terror of the dead. I recalled from long, long ago a profound and luxurious sense of mystery, and it was this that I wished to partake of again. When I found that thumbnail, maybe a cry would arise from the tombs: “That is mine!” Whereupon I would drop the thing in terror and take to my heels.’
-from Under the Autumn Star (1906; translated from the Norwegian by Oliver and Gunnvor Stallybrass)