“that which is common to us all”: Karl Ove Knausgaard as Reader of Joyce





Karl Ove Knausgaard, James Joyce, Fictional Writing, Essentialism


In his monumental autobiographical series of novels My Struggle, acclaimed Norwegian novelist Karl Ove Knausgaard devotes a considerable number of pages to discuss James Joyce’s fictional works. In the last volume of the series – The End –, practically the entire body of Joyce’s fiction – from early works such as Stephen Hero and Dubliners to the modernist masterpieces Ulysses and Finnegans Wake – is included in a discussion on the Irish novelist’s literature. Only one among Joyce’s major works is not tackled by Knausgaard in The End: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Nonetheless, it is precisely Knausgaard who writes the preface to a celebrated Centennial edition of Joyce’s first novel in which, amidst other topics, he ponders over what he understands to be “the very essence of literature.” The article aims at highlighting some key aspects of Knausgaard’s take on Joyce’s fictional output and provide enough evidence to support the hypothesis that the Norwegian writer’s conceptualization of the literary phenomenon, including Joyce’s work, is based upon questionable essentialist premises.

Author Biography

  • Tarso do Amaral de Souza Cruz, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro

    Holds a PhD in Languages and a Master’s degree in Literature in English. He teaches Literature in English at Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro and at Fundação Técnico-Educacional Souza Marques. His main areas of research are Joycean Studies and Post-Colonial Studies. He is a member of the Brazilian Association of Irish Studies, as well as of the research groups Joyce Studies in Brazil and Poéticas da diversidade. He was a member of Coletivo Finnegan, which translated Joyce’s Finnegans Wake into Portuguese.


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How to Cite

Cruz, T. do A. de S. (2023). “that which is common to us all”: Karl Ove Knausgaard as Reader of Joyce. ABEI Journal, 25(1), 47-56. https://doi.org/10.11606/issn.2595-8127.v25i1p47-56