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Liefde by Karl Ove Knausgård
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Liefde (original 2009; edition 2012)

by Karl Ove Knausgård, Marianne Molenaar

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6423415,063 (4.18)70
Member:FrankDeClerck
Title:Liefde
Authors:Karl Ove Knausgård
Other authors:Marianne Molenaar
Info:Breda De Geus 2012
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:None

Work details

My Struggle: Book Two: A Man in Love by Karl Ove Knausgård (2009)

  1. 00
    A Time for Everything by Karl-Ove Knausgaard (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Das Ringen um den Roman "Alles hat seine Zeit" wird im autobiografischen Werk "Lieben" beschrieben.
  2. 00
    Velkommen til Amerika by Linda Boström Knausgård (JuliaMaria)
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English (19)  Dutch (7)  Swedish (2)  German (2)  Norwegian (1)  Norwegian (Bokmål) (1)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All (34)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)


Oh, Karl Ove, you capture the heart-break of the lovesick, hypersensitive teenager that speaks to our own lost teenage years. And thanks for Book 2, writing of your life during your 20s and 30s, married, raising children, dealing with the whole urban banana. A reader might think very self-centered of a writer to pen 6 thick volumes of his life, but you, Karl Ove, are able to tap into the culture's pulse and our collective modern human experience - reading your books is almost like reading our own autobiography.

Here is a section of My Struggle, Book 2 I found particularly insightful, where Karl Ove reflects on his dealings with the people in his life: he tells us when he is with other men and women, he feels empathetic and bound to them; but when he is by himself, his feelings for them dissolve. “Everyday life, with its duties and routines, was something I endured, not a thing I enjoyed, not something that was meaningful or that made me happy. . . . I always longed to be away from it. So the life I led was not my own. I tried to make it mine, that was my struggle, because of course I wanted it, but I failed, the longing for something else undermined all my efforts. What was the problem? Was it the shrill, sickly tone I heard everywhere that I couldn’t stand, the one that arose from all the pseudopeople and pseudoplaces, pseudoevents, and psudoconflicts our lives passed through, that which we saw but did not participate in, and the distance that modern life in this way had opened up to our own, actually inalienable here and now? If so, if it was more reality, more involvement I longed for, surely it should be that which I was surrounded by that I should be embracing?”

This is but a sliver of Karl Ove’s musing at the time on the dynamics of living an everyday city life as husband, father, friend, acquaintance; he continues for several pages, expanding on such topics as our standardized, homogenized shrinking world until he is obliged to participate in his daughter’s Rhythm Time class, a occasion he finds to be one of the most excruciatingly painful experiences of his life -- he feels a powerful, passionate, sexual attraction to the graceful, gorgeous Rhythm Time teacher but also feels completely humiliated sitting on the floor, shaking a rattle and singing children's songs. It’s this linking the details of his own experience and conflicted feelings with a broader philosophizing on society and culture, art and literature, I find so compelling.

And a reflection from further on in the novel, “For who brooded over the meaninglessness of life anymore? Teenagers? They were the only ones who were preoccupied with existential issues, and as a result there was something puerile and immature about them, and hence it was doubly impossible for adults with their sense of propriety intact to deal with them. However, this is not so strange, for we never feel more strongly and passionately about life than in our teenage years, when we step into the world for the first time, as it were, and all our feelings are new feelings. So there they are, with their big ideas on small orbits, looking this way and that for an opportunity to launch them, as the pressure builds. And who is it they light upon sooner or later but Uncle Dostoyevsky? Dostoyevsky has become a teenager’s writer, the issue of nihilism a teenager issue.”

Ironically, the many pages of this book are filled to the brim with brooding on existential issues, forever questioning the meaning and meaninglessness of life, as if the author’s feelings are perpetually new feelings, as if every morning he steps into the world for the first time with all the awkwardness, discomfort, unease and even clumsiness of a teenager unhesitatingly opening his heart to the frequent hard edges and occasional tenderness of those around him.

The narrator reminds me of those characters from the novels of Dostoyevsky who, swept up in the intensity of the moment, in a gush of emotional frenzy, say ‘to hell with the future’ and stack all their chips on one spin of the roulette wheel or burn their life savings in a fire. For example, here is Karl Ove back in his room, totally drunk, after hearing a woman he loves tell him sorry, she’s not interested. “I went into the bathroom, grabbed the glass on the sink and hurled it at the wall with all the strength I could muster. I waited to hear if there was any reaction. Then I took the biggest shard I could find and started cutting my face. I did it methodically, making the cuts as deep as I could, and covered my whole face. The chin, cheeks, forehead, nose, underneath the chin. At regular intervals I wiped away the blood with a towel. Kept cutting. Wiped the blood away. But the time I was satisfied with my handiwork there was hardly room for one more cut, and I went to bed.”

Observing Karl Ove as he makes his North American book tour this spring, there isn’t any evidence of a face cut to shreds. One beauty of a novel is the author has the latitude, even in an autobiographical novel like this one (many of his extended family refuse to have anything to do with him), to create imaginatively. And this play of creative imagination makes all the difference. Although the author draws explicitly from his own life—the first-person narrator is named Karl Ove Knausgaard, and he uses the real names of his wife, children, parents, and friends, I am reading these books as a novel, since I sense a good portion is embellished or simply made-up.

Made-up or real, in the end, this is a novel of emotional extremes. Linda, the love of his Karl Ove’s life, breaths hot-blooded fire: melodramatic, mercurial, quick-tempered and occasionally violent and destructive. Yet these two lovers remain together and have three children. And with every additional child their household fire rages with more ferocity. How on earth do they do it? 600 pages of Book 2 tells the tale.

One last note on a key piece of Book 2: Karl Ove’s ongoing conversation with his philosophical and literary friend, Geir, and his ongoing conversation with his philosophic inner self. For instance, Karl Ove alone, “Fictional writing has no value, documentary narrative has no value. The only genres I saw value in, which still conferred meaning, were diaries and essays, the types of literature that did not deal with narrative, that were not about anything, but just consisted of a voice, the voice of your own personality, a life, a face, a gaze you could meet. What is a work of art if not the gaze of another person? Not directed above us, not beneath us, but at the same height as our own gaze. Art cannot be experienced collectively, nothing can, art is something you are alone with. You meet its gaze alone.”



( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
Karl Ove takes one right to the center of what it means to be him, for better, worse, or worser. His description of his reaction to taking his 8 month old child to a Rhythm Time class is so painfully honestly remarkable that it makes one laugh to think about the sheer anti-PC of it and him. This is the 2nd in a series of 6 books, of which the first two are his best writing. Brilliant introspection alternates with chilling self exposure.
I hope that the final book returns to the promise of the early ones.

His travelogue in the New York Times was tedious and unworthy of him, however much money they advanced. This time, he did not make The Dull compelling reading.

And, as ?#!^^?# and arrogant as he has seemingly become, he is a total original who surpasses most Madelines. ( )
  m.belljackson | Jul 6, 2016 |
In Book Two of this acclaimed series of autobiographical novels, subtitled "A Man in Love", Knausgaard is living in Bergen, Norway with his wife Tonje and their two young children. Although his family adores him he feels trapped, and after his debut novel "Ute av verden" ("Out of the World") was awarded the 1998 Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature he feels both vindicated as a writer, and pressured by internal and external demands to continue to write, and he resents that his responsibilities as a father and house husband are interfering with his work. He begins to look outside of his marriage for release, and he ultimately separates from Tonje and his children, then moves to an isolated Norwegian village to get away from them, and everyone else he knows. After a few months he moves to Stockholm, Sweden, strikes up friendships with the literary community there, and rekindles friendships with Geir, a fellow Norwegian who is a struggling writer, and, more importantly, Linda, a troubled poet who he met and fell in love with in the past, before he met Tonje.

As in Book One, in which Knausgaard writes about his teenage and young adult years and his difficult relationship with his father, whose chronic alcoholism led to his premature and sordid death, Book Two features superb reflections on family relationships, responsibility to one's family and one's self, and Knausgaard's struggles with his fears, insecurities, and personal demons. The characters' conversations and everyday occurrences are almost always interesting, and made this reader feel as if he was sitting next to Knausgaard and whomever he is talking to, and although I didn't find this book nearly as compelling as Book One it kept my interest from the first page to the last.

Knausgaard, to his credit, portrays himself as a flawed man, whose occasional selfishness and thoughtlessness make him a somewhat unsympathetic figure, but also make him more human. However, as he has said previously, he seems to have struck a "Faustian bargain" (his words) in his naked portrayal of his family, lovers and friends, who are not allowed to defend themselves or explain their actions and thoughts. I was also somewhat disturbed by the apparent lack of regard for Tonje and their children, who are almost entirely cut out of this book after he leaves them. Hopefully Knausgaard will return to the breakup and his self imposed isolation in one of the subsequent books in the series, as this part of his story feels incomplete.

"My Struggle: Book Two" is another superb accomplishment and a book I found hard to put down, similar to Book One, and I look forward to reading Book Three next month. ( )
1 vote kidzdoc | Jul 2, 2016 |
I so enjoyed the first book that I was eager to begin this, but it disappointed me. The detail of lifestyles, resentments, and frustrations it lists, serially, become tedious, quite apart from the repellant character the author lays bare in this period of his life. This is indeed what ambition looks like in academic worlds: vain, unscrupulous, self-righteous, and above all, petty. The gender politics are fascinating, but the key term here would have to be cynicism. In fact, to be honest, I didn't finish it, but went straight from about half-way through, when it is evident we will only get more of the same, and the same, and the same, to Book 3. ( )
  Mijk | Apr 22, 2016 |
It's difficult for a follow-up to a book as widely acclaimed as the first book of the My Struggle series to reach the same heights of innovation. Nevertheless, Book 2 is still quite the work to behold, even as the directness and immediacy of Knausgaard's writing style becomes a bit less novel. Introspective where Book 1 was forceful, Book 2 is at times a brilliant work, if not quite the first's equal. I stand by most of the sentiments of my review of Book 1, and thus I won't delve into too much detail here, but this is a series well worth reading. ( )
  wpotash | Apr 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Knausgaard has a tremendous essayistic talent, and Book 2, like Book 1, is rich in reflections on everything from the sociology of death to the psychopathology of everyday life. As with all great writers, the ideas or theories are woven into the story, dramatized, and this is as true of the question of what gives meaning as of any other question in the book. Reflecting on the history of conceptions of life and death, Knausgaard asks: “What was man on this earth other than an insect among other insects, a life-form among other life-forms, which might just as well take the form of algae in a lake or fungi on the forest floor, roe in a fish’s stomach, rats in a nest or a cluster of mussels on a reef?” This lowering or leveling of human life is not simply a logical deduction, a search for rational balance, but an intensely emotional expression of fear, uncertainty and longing.
 
...crucially, "Everyday life, with its duties and routines, was something I endured, not a thing I enjoyed, nor something that was meaningful or made me happy … I always longed to be away from it, and always had done. So the life I led was not my own. I tried to make it mine, this was my struggle, because of course I wanted it, but I failed, the longing for something else undermined all my efforts."

It is this caveat that defines Knausgaard's artistic achievement, for without it, his world would merely subside back into narrative; the malaise would have been a question of practicalities, the need for a different story. Instead, he shows us, by the route of life, that there is no story, and in so doing he finds, at last, authenticity. For that alone, this deserves to be called perhaps the most significant literary enterprise of our times.
added by peterbrown | editThe Guardian, Rachel Cusk (Apr 12, 2013)
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Knausgård, Karl Oveprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bartlett, DonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Huttunen, KatriinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Molenaar, MarianneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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29 juli 2008 / Het is een lange zomer geweest en hij is nog steeds niet voorbij. Op 26 juni had ik het eerste deel van mijn romancyclus af en sindsdien, al meer dan een maand, zijn Vanja en Heidi thuis van de crèche met alles wat dat aan dagelijkse drukte met zich meebrengt.
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