All is Quiet

in his essay, Karl Ove Knausgaard captures concisely and perceptively the literary qualities of Thomas Bernhard, Michel Houellebecq, Jon Fosse and by extension his own writing; “the presence we feel has to do with a certain receptiveness, a certain alertness, a certain temperament, and what this opens up for us in the text. The strange thing about writing is that the self seems to let go, that what in our self-conception normally keeps the I together, becomes dissolved, the inner being reconfigurating in new and unfamiliar ways.”

I’ve yet to read Fosse’s fiction, but the essays that Knausgaard describes are collected in An Angel Walks Through the Stage and Other Essays (trans. May-Brit Akerholt) from Dalkey Archive. I require more time with the essays, but am fascinated with his singular way of looking at literature and art.

That it is influenced by Maurice Blanchot reminds me yet again to spend more time with his work, as what Fosse describes is close to what I seek and am fortunate to find in my literary touchstones: “Whereas telling connects with the social world, the narrative situation itself, and moreover comprises some element of entertainment, writing, Fosse seems to believe, connects with something else, with that part of our language which perhaps communicates only itself, like a stone or a crack in a wall.”

3 thoughts on “All is Quiet

  1. Thank you for posting this. I just read the essay online, and I ordered Fosse’s book of essays. I, too, have been seeking reading experiences of the kind Knausgaard references here (though I disagree with him slightly because I do read Bernhard to learn about post war Austrian culture in addition to immersing myself in his unique use of language–in the same way that I have been reading Handke lately, especially Repetition, which I am finding to be a wonderful and profound work of literature). And Houllebecq’s characters are really detestable in so many ways, but he really does a good job of illuminating the current problems of our world–and for that matter, I believe Submission is a worthwhile novel. As I said in another comment, I am finding myself more interested in writers like Bernhard, Handke, and others because they reveal many of the ills of our current world–and I find that interesting to examine through literature. This is also one of the reasons I think Christina Stead’s The Man Without Children is a masterpiece. It focuses on the microcosm of the family rather than the broader culture. But she is absolutely unflinching in how she portrays the family, and her use of language is singular.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s one of my omissions, Stead’s book, that I hope to address one day. Thanks for the terrific comment. I’m no longer certain, after having believed otherwise for a long time, that writers illuminate external realities. Our perception is so unique. But I do appreciate seeing how other people view their world, whether contemporarily or in some previous age,


  2. Knausgaard decided to write aboit the most common things that happen to a person, yet we do become interested, but, Dear Bernhard, he is just unique, the way he tells his experince with his illness (I did become a ” member” of that but my dad decided to cure “his child” at home) and the way he decided to go “in the opposite direction” is one in the world…

    Liked by 1 person

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