Knausgaard on Munch

Robert Ferguson at Literary Review:

Knausgaard has perfected the confessional, ‘speaking’ style of writing that his fellow countryman Knut Hamsun introduced into modern Western literature in the 1890s with novels like Hunger and Mysteries. The style was adopted with great success by Henry Miller, and Miller is probably the confessional novelist with whom Knausgaard can most profitably be compared. Writing in Inside the Whale in 1940 about Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, George Orwell described the experience of feeling that ‘he knows all about me, he wrote this specifically for me’. Orwell praised the healthy and liberating effect of reading Miller during the politically tense 1930s, when it seemed to him that people had begun to censor their own thoughts (‘Ought I to be thinking this?’). Knausgaard’s bold self-acceptance performs a similar function for our own nervous times. His prose is direct. It darts forward. Suddenly he finds himself making a massive assertion. He stops, doubles back on himself, examines the assertion, and either qualifies or reinforces it before moving on. His artistic credo, which he believes he shares with Munch, is senk lista (‘lower the bar’): the important thing is just to keep on writing, in the same way that for Munch all that mattered was to keep on painting. The quality can take care of itself.

more here.

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