Hatchet Jobs Knausgaard

Published on May 13th, 2013


Adam Lively vs My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard

The second part of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six volume autobiographical epic My Struggle has just been published in English. The books have become such a talking point in Norway that companies have felt forced to introduce ‘Knausgaard-free days’. Adam Lively in the Sunday Times thinks a similar policy might be in order here:

“This novel really does represent what is, to put it bluntly, most flesh-crawlingly repellent in the puritan imagination: a self-lacerating moral exhibitionism that reduces the world to a mirror for the individual’s precious “struggle”.

And it’s the kind of thing that not just Joyce would have hated: it’s also precisely what turned Nietzsche against Christianity. But then the ideal reader of this novel is the kind of person who can feel depths of profundity stirring at the sight of the word “Nietzschean”, while having not a clue what it might mean. And the same goes for the reviewers and publicists who have used the term “Proustian”: anybody who thinks that what Proust was doing is even in the same universe as the histrionically attention-seeking Knausgaard has been reading a very strange translation of A La Recherche.”

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