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Posts Tagged ‘Adolf Hitler’

Completely Without Dignity: An Interview with Karl Ove Knausgaard

December 26, 2013 | by

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All this week, we are bringing you some of your favorite posts from 2013. Happy holidays!

Of the two people who have written books called My Struggle, Karl Ove Knausgaard is the less notorious. In Scandinavia, where the tradition of memoiristic writing is less prevalent and self-exposing than it is in America, he wrote, for three years, twenty pages a day about himself, his friends, his wife, and his kids. When the first of the six books was published, reporters called everyone he’d ever met. It sold half a million copies.

But unlike most literary controversies, this one’s less interesting than the work that provoked it. Knausgaard has written one of those books so aesthetically forceful as to be revolutionary. Before, there was no My Struggle; now there is, and things are different. The digressiveness of Sebald or Proust is transposed into direct, unmetaphorical language, pushing the novel almost to the edge of unreadability, where it turns out to be addictive and hypnotic. A man has written a book in which a man stays at home with his kids, and his home life isn’t trivialized or diminished but studied and appreciated, resisted and embraced. An almost Christian feeling of spiritual urgency makes even the slowest pages about squeezing lemon on a lobster into a hymn about trying to be good.

Book One ends with that impossible thing: an original metaphor for death. The last sentence of this interview may do the same for writing. Read More »

28 COMMENTS

Animal Farm Timeline

April 12, 2013 | by

Cover of Snowball's Chance, 2002. Cover of Why Orwell Matters, 2002.

Cover of Snowball’s Chance, 2002. Cover of Why Orwell Matters, 2002.

Timeline to this Timeline

September 9, 2001, I’m walking down Lafayette Street with my wife. We’re close to my apartment, with the Tribeca sky, the sky of my youth, hovering above our destination. I have a title idea. “Snowball’s Chance,” I say, “there’s something to it.” She isn’t so sure.

Then, 9/11. Then, 9/13, I understand the title. Animal Farm. Snowball returns to the farm, bringing capitalism, which has its own pitfalls. I’ll turn the Cold War allegory on its head—apply Orwell’s thinking to what had happened in the fifty years since the end of World War II. Three weeks later I have a clean draft.

I start to think about publication, and run into a bump: the feeling in the publishing world, in the entertainment world, is that parody is about to lose its protected status in the United States. Several major lawsuits are underway (2 Live Crew, The Wind Done Gone), copyright has been extended indefinitely for major corporations, and the Supreme Court has never looked more conservative. Given the climate, and that parody is not protected in the United Kingdom, the Orwell estate announces itself “hostile” to my manuscript. The book is nevertheless released in 2002 (by a small but longstanding press, Roof Books), and supported in part by a state grant. At the same moment I see fit to attack Animal Farm as a Cold War allegory—an allegory that I see as conservative, xenophobic, and a bludgeon for radical thinking—Christopher Hitchens, who has taken a sharp turn to the right, sees the need to defend it. In Why Orwell Matters, also published in 2002, Hitchens attempted to apply Orwell’s later-life “Cold War,” a term he popularized, to a stance against terrorism. The media picks up on Hitchens, and Snowball as a counterpoint, and the books are accordingly praised or derided.

 

1879–1880

Nikolai Kostomarov, Stamp of Ukraine, 1992.

Nikolai Kostomarov, Stamp of Ukraine, 1992.

Nikolai Kostomarov (1817–1885) pens his story Animal Riot, a farmyard allegory that takes as its analog a hypothetical Russian revolution. A century later, in 1988, the English-language Economist will compare Kostomarov’s 8,500-word story to George Orwell’s 20,000-word Russian Revolution allegory, Animal Farm (which, unlike Animal Riot, ends badly), finding numerous points of comparison. For example, a bull in Animal Riot:

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10 COMMENTS

Crowdsourced Books, Twenties Muses, the World’s Worst Word

April 25, 2012 | by

  • Reckless, glamorous It Girls of the Jazz Age.
  • The strange tale of Bram Stoker.
  • For the first time since 1945, there will be a new German edition of Mein Kampf.
  • Perhaps inevitably, a crowdsourced book written by the Internet.
  • This Philip Larkin tribute was fantastic.
  • The people have spoken, and they loathe the word moist.
  • 1 COMMENT

    On the Shelf

    January 18, 2012 | by

    Evelyn Waugh.

    A cultural news roundup.

  • R.I.P. Reginald Hill.
  • Bad news for bookstores.
  • But they fight back!
  • The Edgar Allen Poe Graveside Society and Cognac-Drinker’s Club.
  • “Spare a thought for the authors who pass from celebrity to oblivion within their own lifetimes.”
  • Is it acceptable to answer a phone call with an e-mail? And other modern conundrums.
  • To republish Hitler? And other eternal conundrums.
  • Cormac McCarthy, screenwriter.
  • Everyman’s library?
  • #FactsWithoutWikipedia
  • A comic take on the blackout.
  • Downton vs. Brideshead.

  • 2 COMMENTS