There is so much I want to say about My Struggle.
And one of the first things I want to do is to share some of the passages I have copied out.
But this is wrong since it’s not a book of aphorisms and many of the passages that have most moved me are impossible to detach from the novel. It would be like scooping up a cupful of water from the Colorado River–yes, it’s water, but it’s not the Colorado.
And yet I’ve tried. Since 2011 I’ve kept an electronic commonplace book–a Gmail thread to myself, now 91 messages long. I started a new thread just for Knausgaard. The passages are massive even though the sentence or two that shimmered out at me might be quite short. I keep going back and back, looking for where the thought begins.
Often it begins at the start of the book.
I had read quite a lot about the novels before I began them, but I didn’t read or didn’t retain that they have no chapters. After reading them, chapters in other books seem a bit artificial. Stagy, like a curtain being rung down or a curtain going up. Anyway, an effect while reading them is that it all seems at times like one long utterance. A thought on page 142 may have started on page 89. Or, indeed, on the first page.
For volume 2, the one I was able to renew at the library and therefore was able to keep longer to finish copying out passages, I still ran out of time and wound up photocopying and scanning pages.
Why not just buy the book and mark it up? I will–although I want the hardcover Archipelago editions and not the paperback FSG ones with Knausgaard’s face. It’s a fine face but I like the reserved Nordic look of the hardcovers.
Well, here’s a fragment anyway. It is part of a much longer passage with more shades to it, but I do like it fairly well as a fragment. God knows it feels true. It’s from volume 2, A Man in Love:
You could also, if you were willing to put in the hard work, write poems yourself if you were one of those for whom poems did not open themselves; after all, only a poet would see the difference between poetry and poetry that resembles poetry. (142)
More about this and other things soon.