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An absorbing collection of essays on religious textures in Knausgaard’s writings and our time.

Min kamp, or My Struggle, is a six-volume novel by Karl Ove Knausgaard and one of the most significant literary works of the young twenty-first century. Published in Norwegian between 2009 and 2011, the novel presents an absorbing first-person narrative of the life of a writer with the same name as the author, in a world at once fully disillusioned and thoroughly enchanted.

In 2015, a group of scholars began meeting to discuss the peculiarly religious qualities of My Struggle. Some were interested in Knausgaard’s attention to explicitly religious subjects and artworks, others to what they saw as more diffuse attention to the religiousness of contemporary life. The group wondered what reading these textures of religion in these volumes might say about our times, about writing, and about themselves. The Abyss or Life Is Simple is the culmination of this collective endeavor—a collection of interlocking essays on ritual, beauty, and the end of the world.

184 pages | 9 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2022

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Religion: Religion and Literature, Religion and Society


“A true work of collective criticism, The Abyss or Life Is Simple is a collection of personal, thorough, and innovative essays that illuminates aspects of Knausgaard that previously have been neglected by scholars. It is a treat for anyone interested in Knausgaard's writing and an exhibit of the benefits of collaboration and collectivism in the humanities.”

Claus Elholm Andersen, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Table of Contents

   A Knausgaard Reading and Writing Collective
1 Keeping It All at Bay
   Courtney Bender
2 Love Tears
   Erik Thorstensen
3 Aesthetics of an Abused Child
   Liane Carlson
4 The Knausgaard Swarm
   Joshua Dubler
5 Angels
   Winnifred Fallers Sullivan
6 Incidentals (When the Slugs Come) (In the Cut)
   Jeremy Biles
7 Shaping Our Ends
   M. Cooper Harriss
Hannah C. Garvey

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