But for his third book, Knausgaard wrote about himself, and
the result is a six-volume, 3,600-page, autobiographical, plot
less tome titled “My Struggle.”
Knausgaard meditates on everything from changing diapers to his
alcoholic father in the volumes, which are published as separate
books. The international success of the books has led to his
being compared with writers Marcel Proust and Louis-Ferdinand
Knausgaard, 45, spoke with Reuters about the books and his
Q: These books are about your personal life, and your
image is often used prominently to market them. Are you
concerned about a sort of literary cult of personality
developing around you?
A: I can’t really be. When this first happened in Norway,
there was a lot of attention, and it was this image of my face
everywhere. And I realized I just have to accept it. It’s going
on, and it has nothing to do with me and I can’t control it. I
don’t like seeing my own face used on my covers, but my policy
is to let every publishing house do what they like. I don’t
reject anything from them.
Q: Why did you turn to this form of writing after writing
A: It was out of a crisis in writing. I wanted to write
about my father, and I couldn’t do it in fiction. Almost by
accident I started to write more biographically, and something
happened in that process, you know? Another goal was to get
closer to life. That’s why it’s almost formless, with so many
details that have no narrative function. This just slowly
developed, by intuition.
Q: Why title the project “My Struggle”?
A: I had this working title that was “Argentina,” and
then I was talking about Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” with a
friend, and he said: “There’s your title.” I just went for it.
It’s a description of a struggle, my struggle, and it is
everyday life, misunderstandings and failings and the whole
world of imperfectness. And that’s ironic because of the
association with the original title, with its ideological world
view. The struggle in the novel is not heroic, quite the
opposite. From the outside, it’s deeply insignificant, but this
is the world pictured from the inside, and that’s another story.
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Q: Will you return to writing more typically fictional
A: When I finished “My Struggle,” I thought I should never
write novels again. But now it seems like I can’t stop myself. I’m
going to write, but it will be very different, and it will be very
much a fictional novel. But I can’t do (“My Struggle”) anymore.
Q: Indie rock music was such an influence on your youth. Is
it still? What bands do you like?
A: It is! But I do play a lot of the music from that time. I
haven’t evolved whatsoever. Musically I’m in exactly the same place
as I was when I was 16. But I do like Midlake, an American band. I
really like Iron & Wine, and John Grant; he’s an American as well
but lives in Iceland.
Q: Will you eventually return to “My Struggle”? Surely your
readers will want your take on late middle- and old-age.
A: It could be fun to write about it from a completely
different perspective in 40 years. I don’t know, but it’s tempting.
I can’t really plan those things, but it sounds fun.
One of my favorite books (“On Overgrown Paths”) is by Knut Hamsun. I
think he was 90 when he wrote it. It’s about him being a national
traitor and having everything taken away from him, and he talks
about his existence in those days.
(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Lisa Von Ahn)
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