Knausgaard on Fame

He probably knows a thing or two about it.

As for me, I clung to the dream of fame throughout my teenage years. When I reached my 20s, I wanted to become a famous writer. It made no difference how — I could write anything at all to get there. In an incredibly embarrassing interview I did on student radio while I was taking a course in creative writing when I was 20, I compared myself, in all seriousness, with Hamsun and Hemingway. This childish need to be exalted, which became uglier and more pathetic the older I grew, and which, based on what I’ve written so far, it doesn’t take a psychoanalyst to realize was nourished by shame and self-hatred, now suddenly met its opposite, for what I discovered when I began to write my first novel was that I could disappear in my writing. The self, and all the difficulties and pain associated with it, vanished. I had always disappeared when I was reading — that was almost the whole point of reading for me, to be no one for a few hours. Now it happened while I was writing. To disappear in that way, to enter a state of selflessness, is something I believe every musician, painter, actor, director and writer knows. It lies at the very base of creation. Like no other medium, literature is able to break the boundaries erected by society. It speaks with a voice influenced by all the other voices of time and literature. The paradox is that fame, which emphasizes the individual, is so closely linked to selflessness, which is the obliteration of the individual — that the desire to be seen is so closely linked to the joy of self-concealment.

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. Essay By Karl Ove Knausgaard Eurozine has what looks to be a post-My Struggle essay by Karl Ove Knausgaard. Despite declaring My Struggle to be his end as an author,...
  2. Yet More Knausgaard Well, I can’t keep up with all the Knaus-madness, but one more link before I give up. Christian Lorentzen’s very smart piece in Slate. Despite...
  3. Explaining the Knausgaard Publishing Situation There seems to be a tiny bit of confusion so here’s the deal: 1. Archipelago is doing the hardcovers, FSG is doing the paperbacks. 2....
  4. The Country Where Knausgaard Failed Last week, CR-reader Donato wrote in on this blog to let me know that, despite My Struggle author Karl Ove Knausgaard’s stratospheric levels of fame...
  5. Peak Knausgaard Yep, we’re getting there, and fast....

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