The Oldie - - FICTION -

Harvill Secker, 1,160pp, £25, Oldie price £17.21 inc p&p

The last and sixth vol­ume in Knausgaard’s My Strug­gle was hailed by crit­ics as both pre­pos­ter­ous and mag­nif­i­cent. It is writ­ten amid the chaos of small chil­dren and mar­riage to a bi-po­lar writer and looks back to the fall­out from pre­vi­ous vol­umes. There is also a 450-page di­gres­sion about Hitler, con­sist­ing in part of an at­tack on the Bri­tish his­to­rian Ian Karl Ove Knausgaard: ad­dic­tive

Ker­shaw for dar­ing to sug­gest that the teenage Hitler was al­ready evil. Knausgaard’s ar­gu­ment is that ‘only his in­no­cence can bring his guilt into re­lief’. Melissa Kat­soulis in the Times ac­knowl­edged the plea­sure of ‘to­tal im­mer­sion in the soap opera of an­other per­son’s life’ while find­ing the pas­sages about his wife’s de­pres­sion and ma­nia hard to read. Keith Miller in the Literary Re­view de­scribed some pas­sages as ‘first year un­der­grad­u­ate, two joints in’ and com­pared the au­thor’s hos­til­ity to Ian Ker­shaw to ‘a man in the pub bar­rack­ing a pro­fes­sional foot­baller on tele­vi­sion’. Jake Ker­ridge in the

Daily Tele­graph ac­knowl­edged My Strug­gle as ‘ad­dic­tive’ but won­dered about its worth. ‘Knausgaard does not, like his masters Joyce and Proust [did], find a new way to rep­re­sent re­al­ity lin­guis­ti­cally, a way that cuts through our hard­ened con­cep­tions of the world and helps us see it afresh. His way of de­scrib­ing “re­al­ity as it is” is to ex­pand the range of thoughts and ac­tions, how­ever mun­dane or shame­ful, that a hu­man be­ing will pub­licly ad­mit to.’

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