Having just finished book three of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle (I enjoyed the first two more, though this volume’s still captivating), I was eager to listen to both part one and part two of the author’s interviews on Michael Silverblatt’s “Bookworm.”
It’s great listening. These insights from Silverblatt — which followed his comment that Knausgaard clearly knows his “great literature” — rang especially true for me:
What’s daring about My Struggle is that you’re willing to put the difficulty of the literature of the century — Joyce on — aside, to recapture the human. To make it human again, or to restore it to humanness. And in doing so, you risk being wildly misunderstood….
These works of great literature, in some way, speak to readers. And they speak from a world of genius. And I feel that in order to restore the possibility of originality, and even grandeur, you had to enter the zone of shame and the zone of ordinary life, which is banality. And you had to ask, Can great literature be made of such things? Am I willing to try to write six volumes of daily life, when all of us are feeling that our daily lives are disappointing and dissatisfying? Can the novel of Knausgaard restore our feelings of the importance of daily life?
I can’t think, personally, of anything more important. I’m very grateful when I read these books, because I feel like you’ve restored my interest in human beings. In going to the grocery. In feeding a child and making sure things are taken care of from one day to the next.