Functions of autoreception: Karl Ove Knausgård as author-critic and rewriter
Vøllo, Ida Hummel
Karl Ove Knausgård made his entry into the literary field as a critic in the 1990s, and he has since 1998 made his mark as a novelist and essayist. The six-volume autobiographical work Min kamp (2009-2011) is in essence about what it means for him to be an author. This thesis investigates Knausgård’s strategies as a critic, essayist, and as the author of Min kamp to position himself and his poetics within the literary field and a literary tradition. Specifically, it examines the functions of autoreception, i.e. self-criticism, implicit in Knausgård’s role as an author-critic, an author who writes literary criticism, and as a rewriter, an author who rewrites his own texts and the context and poetic intentions of his previous texts. Thus, this thesis aims to answer the question what are the functions of criticism and of rewriting for Karl Ove Knausgård as an author? Part I outlines a new framework of autoreception devised for examining the functions of criticism and rewriting. The proposed common denominator is that both function to establish, position, and validate an author-image. Ultimately, a new understanding of the narration in Min kamp as autoreceptive is offered. Part II examines a largely unexplored area of Knausgård’s work, namely the strategies of Knausgård as a critic prior to publishing his first novel, and how Knausgård rewrites himself during this period in Min kamp. Part III focuses on Knausgård’s rewriting of the period between writing his second novel and up until he begins writing Min kamp. It investigates the strategic functions of the narrative structure, the functions of the essayistic and critical passages, and the functions of the distance and unity between past and present author-images that Knausgård creates in his rewriting. This thesis thus aims to contribute to the scholarship regarding Karl Ove Knausgård by conducting an author-study that examines the relationship between criticism and poetics. In addition, it aims to contribute to a broader field of research by offering a theoretical and methodological framework of autoreception, which works across the boundaries of critical, essayistic, and literary texts.