Why Has ‘My Struggle’ Been Anointed a Literary Masterpiece?

Is it a literary masterpiece?  No
Is it a literary masterpiece? No

Well, I am glad someone said it. While I have quite enjoyed the two volumes of Karl Ove Knausgård‘s six-volume My Struggle, I have been somehwat baffled that Knausgård has been hailed as the next big thing, possible Nobel Prize winner, a Norwegian Proust or Proustian, if you prefer, or even a modern Proust. In the national article linked, William Deresiewicz puts it much better than I can: The prose consists, for the most part, of a flat record of superficial detail, unenlivened by the touch of literary art: by simile or metaphor, syntactic complexity or linguistic compression, the development of symbols or elaboration of structures—by beauty, density or form. Nothing happens, for the most part, in the thinking, either—no insight into the situations being described, no penetration of the characters involved, no unexpected angles or perspectives/. While I might not go as far as that, I agree with him to a great extent. I am glad that I am not alone. So, for the record, Knausgård’s My Struggle (FFS, spell his name correctly, at least) is not a literary masterpiece, it is not the second coming of Proust (or Joyce or Woolf or Ibsen or anyone else) and is not Nobel Prize-worthy. Now, can we get back to reading real fiction, please?

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