From New York Times bestselling author Karl Ove Knausgaard comes a collection of ambitious, remarkably erudite essays on art, literature, culture, and philosophy.
In the Land of the Cyclops is Karl Ove Knausgaard's first collection of essays to be published in English. In these wide-ranging pieces, Knausgaard reflects openly on Ingmar Bergman's notebooks, Anselm Kiefer, the Northern Lights, Madame Bovary, Rembrandt, and the role of an editor with penetrating intelligence. Accompanied by color reproductions throughout, these essays illuminate Cindy Sherman's shadowlands, the sublime mystery of Sally Mann's vision, and the serious play of Francesca Woodman. These essays capture Knausgaard's remarkable ability to mediate between the personal and the universal, between life and art. Each piece glimmers with Knausgaard's candor and his longing to authentically see, understand, and experience the world.
About the Author
Karl Ove Knausgaard was born in Norway in 1968. His debut novel Out of the World won the Norwegian Critics Prize in 2004 and his A Time for Everything was a finalist for the Nordic Council Prize. My Struggle: Book One was a New Yorker Book of the Year and Book Two was listed among the Wall Street Journal's 2013 Books of the Year. My Struggle is a New York Times Best Seller and has been translated into more than twenty languages. Knausgaard writes regularly for the New York Times Magazine. Translator Bio: Martin Aitken is the acclaimed translator of numerous novels from Danish and Norwegian, including works by Karl Ove Knausgaard, Peter Hoeg, Jussie Adler-Olsen, and Pia Juul. His translations of short stories and poetry have appeared in many literary journals and magazines. In 2012 he was awarded the American-Scandinavian Foundation's Nadia Christensen Translation Prize. In 2019 he was awarded the PEN Translation Prize for his translation of Love by Hane Orstavik, which was also a finalist for the National Book Award in 2018.
". . . A modern Roland Barthes . . . Knausgaard has a gift for stopping the reader in their tracks with an unexpected, casual profundity." — Meghan O'Gieblyn, The New York Times Book Review "...As in the fiction, [Knausgaard's] intense focus, formidable command of reference and tendency to see the interconnectedness of things make for highly stimulating, almost overwhelming reading . . . The pantomime of critical dispassion is avoided; the rhetorical effect is one of wisdom gained rather than merely delivered." —Charles Arrowsmith, the Washington Post
"Knausgaard is less interested in answers than in authentic engagement with the world . . . In the Land of the Cyclops is another worthy addition to Knausgaard’s oeuvre that aims to recapture this intense feeling and to see the world anew." —Phillip Garland, World Literature Today
"I appreciate Knausgaard revealing his unflattering first impression, then interrogating it, his willingness to go further, to look again, and to show how his mind moves, then changes . . . I want to see what Knausgaard sees, even when I’m overwhelmed by it or disagree . . . Boring down into any moment, thought, or artwork, offers its own thrilling spectacle. You don’t want to look away." — Bridget Quinn, Hyperallergic
"The collection, which also includes essays on Michel Houellebecq, Cindy Sherman and Kierkegaard, reads less like a book of criticism at times than a work of negative theology, circling the mysteries of artistic creation that cannot be directly articulated: What makes a book or a painting feel alive and relevant? Why should art, which occupies the realm of pure fantasy, have any rules at all?" — Stephen Poole, The Telegraph
"Knausgaard’s passion for interiority and the detail of the individual experience, the most brilliant elements of his fiction, come through . . . “In the Land of the Cyclops” proves that Knausgaard’s struggle is still ongoing, the search for truth as a balance between reality and our experience of it: “This, which we perhaps could call inexhaustible precision, is the goal of all art, and its essential legitimacy.”" — Jessica Ferri, The Los Angeles Times
"Knausgaard argues that art is at its most effective when it destabilizes our understanding of the world...The moody, provocative black-and-white photos of Francesca Woodman reveal the “constraints of our culture and what they do to our identity” while Michel Houellebecq’s novel Submission succeeds because it suggests how easily disillusioned people might accept political upheaval, asking “What does it mean to be a human being without faith?”...The throughline is the author’s keen, almost anxious urge to understand the artistic mind." — Kirkus Reviews
"In this . . . thought-provoking essay collection, Knausgaard once again displays his knack for raising profound questions about art and what it means to be human . . . These wending musings will be catnip for Knausgaard’s fans. " -- Publishers Weekly
"Karl Ove Knausgaard explores the realm of the aesthetic where it overlaps with the quotidian in fact as he has in fiction . . . Much insight awaits any sifting through these disparate compositions . . . Knausgaard transforms the everyday into a portal of deep insight." -- John L. Murphy, Spectrum Culture
More Praise for Knausgaard's work: • Intense and vital...Knausgaard is utterly honest, unafraid to voice universal anxieties...Superb, lingering, celestial passages...[with] what Walter Benjamin called the "epic side of truth, wisdom."-James Wood, The New Yorker • As Jeffrey Eugenides so marvelingly put it, [Knausgaard] broke the sound barrier of the autobiographical novel...There's something primitive and hungry in that experience-and for me, sometimes, something spiritual, close to the exprience of grace. - Charles Finch, Slate • What's notable is Karl Ove's ability, rare these days, to be fully present in and mindful of his own existence...as if the writing and the living are happening simultaneously...it immerses you totally. You live his life with him. - Zadie Smith, New York Review of Books • ...so aesthetically forceful as to be revolutionary - Jesse Barron, The Paris Review • My Struggle is a revolutionary novel that is highly approachable, even thrilling to read. The book feels like a masterpiece-one of those genuinely surprising works that alters the tradition it inherited. - Meghan O'Rourke, Bookforum • The book kept me up until two almost every morning for a week...Real and singleminded in his storytelling." - Lorin Stein, The Paris Review • Questions about precisely what fiction is and how it relates to reality and the extend to which traditional narrative can be a delivery vehicle for saying something true about life...lie at the intellectual and aesthetic heart of Knausgaard's huge undertaking. - Daniel Mendelsohn, The New York Times • Knausgaard succeeds in producing prose that is "alive"...Such transgressive blurring of the borders between the public and private, sayable and unsayable, can be both life-affirming and riveting. - The Economist • For all its complexity, My Struggle achieves something pretty simple,the thing that enduring fiction has always done: it creates a world that absorbs you utterly...[Book Six] is alive. - Theo Tait, Sunday Times • Who'd have thought that the first monumental literary production of the 21st century...would seem, on a line-by-line basis, so modest and so raw? The books in the My Struggle series fly high by flying low, by scanning the intricate topography of everyday life. - Dwight Garner, The New York Times • This deserves to be called perhaps the most significant literary enterprise of our times. - Rachel Cusk, The Guardian • How wonderful to read an experimental novel that fires every nerve ending while summoning in the reader the sheer sense of how amazing it is to be alive, on this planet and no other. - Jeffrey Eugenides, The New York Times Book Review