Monday, May 13, 2019

Knausgård on Literary Freedom

Another passage from Tyler Cowen's interview with Karl Ove Knausgård, which I loved. Highly recommended for anyone interested in modern literature or the writer's life:
KNAUSGÅRD: What I’m struggling for in my writing is what I call literary freedom, and it’s a space where I can be free in every sense, where I can say whatever, go wherever I want to. And for me, literature is almost the only place you could think that that is a possibility.

My fear is that that space has come closing down on you. You’re closing it down yourself and becoming more afraid for what you’re saying. “Can I say this? Can I do this?” And this power is also strong, you know? It’s so hard to go somewhere you know this is wrong, or this is . . .

I did it with My Struggle because I wrote about my family, and I knew, of course, I shouldn’t do this, and really it is immoral to do this. And then I did it because I wanted to say what I wanted to say, and I wanted to be free to talk about, to write about my own life in a complete and in a free way.

That’s also why I admire writers like Peter Handke. He had the Yugoslavia controversy around him, and you have a lot of controversies around him. But what he does is, he’s there. He’s hardcore, saying what he thinks and stands for it, no matter how ugly it looks from the outside. And that’s what you can do in literature and no other place, I think.

This is an internal struggle in every writer, I think. And it goes in almost all levels of society. I find it hardest to go into the private places that belong to my family and my life, but you have all the political topics. You have a lot of things you can think of. But it’s good that it’s a struggle, and it’s good that there’s an arena where we can have these fights.

But the notion that literature should be good in a moral sense — that I find ridiculous. That’s useless.

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