Stel uw vraag aan Karl Ove Knausgård

  • Onze auteur is er klaar voor

  • I read the entire series of six books. I thought it was brilliant. Do you believe in the thesis of an unhappy childhood as a source of creativity?
  • No, I don't think you ,need an unhappy childhood to be creative. But you need a reason to write, something must haunt you, somehow; if you are perfectly happy, why would you write? In my experience, almost all writers have something that's broken inside, something thqt drives them - and the same appears to be the case with painters, musicians, filmmakers - even comedians! I'm sorry to present such an romantic view, but I actually do believe it is like that ....
  • Are your family and friends always happy with being recycled as characters in your novels?
  • No. Some of them were very troubled by what I wrote and wanted to stop the publication of it. Others accepted it, but didn't like it. Only my mother loved it! To be serious, it was very hard to publish this book. I never wanted to hurt someone, but it was impossible to tell my story without involving other people. Life basically consists of relationships to others. I wanted to explore my life and my identity and in doing so I had to write about others as well.
  • Is your work not (too) exhibitionist? Who gains by describing embarassing situations?
  • I understand that writing 3.600 pages about yourself seems to be rather exhibitionistic. But it was not like I wanted to show who I was. I was not interested in myself in that way, but I wanted to understand. How did I become the one I am? How come I have those opinions I have? Well, how did I get here? The only way I could write about identity, which is what I'm interested in, is by using myself. In this book, I'm trying to open up all the conceptions that make up my identity, to define myself, really look upon myself as a place where things are going on, mostly things that are going on in contemporary society. And by doing so, it is no longer me as a narcisistic jerk that's the center of attention, but a man. That was my intention. But I never knew if this would be relevant to other people.
  • If you hadn't become a writer, what would you have done?
  • I wish I could have become a brilliant footballer, maybe distributing balls to Eden Hazard. But my talent was more obvious to me than to others, so I never followed that carreer opportunity. Seriously, when I was in my twenties and failed as a writer, I studied artistry and had a vague ambition of being a university professor. I'm so wildly happy that this never happened. But I think I wanted to be close to art and literature when I couldn't write myself.
  • I would like to hear your opinion about a recent mail I had from a famous Dutch writer. I’ll try to translate what he wrote about my idea of ‘the inner need to write’, in which I believe. His answer: 'Inner need is bullshit. It’s an indication for kitsch. An artist is not a chicken that needs to lay an egg' (metaphorically speaking).
  • I have never disagreed more to any opinion than this one. Why would you write if you don't have to? It's not fun, it's not easy, you constantly risk ridiculating yourself, and you might work on a novel for six years and then throw it away. Can you imagine going to work and failing absolutely every day? You don't do that if you don't have to!
  • You say: "something must haunt you". What is it that haunted you? I suppose that the 6 books you wrote are your answer, but if you would have to explain it in just a few lines, what would that be?
  • It's a hard question, but I have no selfconfidence at all. Sometimes it's like I'm completely teared apart by selfhatred. Then writing, just the process of writing, the process of creating something is healing. It's strange, but even when I'm writing about myself, I forget all about myself. It's the same with reading, you can all forget about yourself. Now you can ask why I am feeling this way, and hopefully the answer will be in the six volumes.
  • Hey Karl, thanks for doing the chat!

    my question:

    Some writers describe themselves as planners, while others plunge right in to the writing. Do you have a plan when you start writing? Is there a certain rhythm or deadline you force upon yourself to keep writing?
  • No I have no plans. I make progress by trial and error. I can write blindly for many years, nothing of it is good. And then, the next year, I can write a novel where everything comes easy. It's all improvised, it's all intuitive, because the energy that drives me, is curiosity, not knowing where the text is going. I believe wildly in the subconscience. I believe in what's outside of our thoughts. I believe thinking is overrated. But then, the flow would never have appeared without the years of failing. So it's good to fail. Even though it feels hopeless when it happens.
  • Do you think your work should be considered and read as fiction? Some parts and conversations are so detailed it’s sometimes hard to draw the line between fact and fiction.
    Also, great hair!
  • It's my bad hairday actually! I thought there would be no pictures :) But thank you! I wrote this books as novels. I used all the tools of a novel, and I wanted to achieve the same things as a novel achieves. For me, my struggle is a non-fiction novel.
  • Robert Seethaler wrote a great book "a whole life" in 156 pages. Wouldn'it be a great challenge to write your whole story again, but now in 156 pages?
  • Yes. I've always loved the short novels and I have a dream of writing one one day. You know 'Heart of darkness' is only 100 pages or so. It's a perfect novel. But when I have written 100 pages, I have written nothing! I think, to be honest, a novel in 156 pages about a life probably is literary superior. Literature should be about concentration. But then again, what about 'Moby Dick'?
  • Now that you've written most of your life down in these books and probably dealt with your demons and hauntings how did you find the inspiration to start on something else?
  • I wanted to do something completely different. That's the biggest challenge: to change. It's hard because, if you get praise for something, it's very comfortable and safe to stay there. You do something you're good at, but then there's no curiosity and there is nothing you don't know about. It was such a sad day when David Bowie died. And even though it's a cliché, the most amazing thing about him, was the risks he took, when he completely changed approach. Did you watch the video to the song 'Lazarus'? It was the last thing he did, and amongst the greatest. That image and that song have haunted me those last days. And if it's something we can learn from Bowie, it is that.
  • In your books you tend to describe yourself as a private, taciturn person who in most cases prefers to shun social interactions.

    On the other hand, you've written a book that is so intensely personal that readers (or at least myself) start to feel like they know you more intimately than some of their actual friends.

    Has it become more difficult for you to interact with "fans"? Do you find that they assume an intimacy that is not there?
  • I live in a state of denial: when it comes to my book, it never occurs to me that people know things about me. First time I realised that these books actually are read, it was in the very beginning. A girl approached me in a completely different way, and it scared the shit out of me. It felt like I sold my soul. But somehow, I have managed to suppress that insight and so most of the time, it's only nice to meet readers. Most of them want to share things from their own life, which in a strange way, makes us equal in the situation.
  • I loved the six books. Thanks for writing them. As a young father I could relate very strongly with the family life that you describe. Are you working on a new novel?
  • Thank you! This year I'm publishing four books, one in every season. They are not novels, but short texts about things. This sounds very boring, but so did a novel about my life. These texts are narrated to my then unborn daughter, so it's a father's way of showing the child the world as it is now. And THEN, I'll start on a novel!
  • You are a free mason, Karl, why do you work in order of them to manipulate the future and the present?
  • WHAT?! No I'm not a free mason :) Some of them asked me, but I can't be part of any organisation. However, Tolstoj writes great about masonry in 'War and peace'. It's a wonderful description of how Pierre wants to save the world and is lead to believe it's going to happen through this organisation. It's one of the many mistakes he makes, but at least he has the will. What a great book 'War and peace' is!
  • Dear Mr. Knausgard. Funny that you mention 'Heart of darkness': I was reading this book for the first time but stopped doing so because I felt like reading something else. That was your book, and I find it reads a lot easier than 'Heart of Darkness'. So a short novel does not mean an easier novel to read. My question: when or how did you decide that your series 'Min Kamp' were finished?
  • Throughout the writing, I had the last sentence ready: 'I'm so happy I no longer am an author'. I knew that sentence needed to be true and at the end, some of the consequences of my writing are so cruel and I'm realising that and I used that sentence. What a sentence means is that I want to be present in my life instead of being present in my writing. Most of all, I owe that to my children. But then, a few months after finishing my struggle, I felt a strong longing for literature which I just couldn't resist. I hope my children can live with that. If not, they can read about who I was when they're adults. 'Who's that man over there? That's your father....'
  • I always hear that musicians, filmmakers and other writers themselves don't listen/watch/read a lot of other people's work. Do you? Or why not? What do you look for when reading a book? To get your mind of things or to get inspired?
  • Unfortunately this will be the last question I can answer. Very interesting questions! I do listen to music all of the time, I do watch a lot of films when I can and I do read a lot of books of others. What I'm looking for, is the things I haven't seen of read before. And I'm also looking for voices I believe in. I love John Grant, he's a terrific lyricist and a great singer. I love Donald Antrim's books, I'm challenged and thrilled by Rebecca Solnit's books, just to mention the first that popped into my mind.
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