Carl-Henning Wjikmark Interviewed by Karl Ove Knausgård


“I wrote it in a mix of fear and joy. I was propelled by the desire to let my imagination run wild,” says award-winning Carl-Henning Wijkmark about his novel, which depicts Hermann Göring’s orgies. An in-depth interview conducted by Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgård, who here explores the mind of his literary hero.

Knausgård, who here has his debut as an interviewer, describes Wijkmark’s first book ‘The Hunters of Karinhall’ as “one of the best novels I’ve read. It does what the very best novels do.” The 1972-novel – which revolves around an orgy of drinking, sex and hunting at the country residence of Hermann Göring – caused quite a stir and scandal. This was not least due to Göring’s connection to Sweden, which made some feel sympathetic towards him. Moreover, back then, there was still “an extreme-left movement. And they were Puritans. They didn’t approve of pornographic means of expression, so I didn’t strike a chord with them.” The book deals with what Wijkmark describes as ‘jolly evil’: “To me, it closely resembled a pornographic view of humanity, this Nazi biologism.”

“This parody of rationality, as you say, is more or less the style in which this book was written.” The conversation takes off in Wijkmark’s international breakthrough, the novel ‘The Inspection Trolley,’ which he also reads aloud from. Though the events in the book are fantastic and incredible, the style is factual and “almost a pastiche of scientific rationality.” The book, Wijkmark argues, is furthermore a picture of “how fast you can lose your civilized shell,” which also reflect what happens in the world with famines, war etc.

The existential side is key in Wijkmark’s books: “I don’t want to depict the outer life but the inner life, and the self-scrutiny that is triggered by various situations.” An example of this is his novel ‘Approaching Night’, where the main character awaits death – a book which Knausgård comments on with these powerful words: “Reading that made me understand for the first time what dying meant. It struck me when I read that book. It was a huge shock.”

Carl-Henning Wijkmark (b. 1934) is a Swedish writer. He is the author of internationally acclaimed novels, essays and plays and in his works, he often touches upon issues such as humanism and art, the role of the intellectuals, political and social issues. Among his novels are ‘The Hunters of Karinhall’ (originally ‘Jägarna på Karinhall’, 1972), The Inspection Trolley (originally ‘Dressinen’, 1983) – which is considered his international breakthrough – and ‘Approaching Night’ (originally ‘Stundande natten’, 2007). Wijkmark is the recipient of prestigious awards such as The Dobloug Prize, The Swedish Academy Prize and the August Prize.

Karl Ove Knausgård (b. 1968) is a Norwegian author, internationally recognized for his prizewinning novel ‘My Struggle’. The novel, in which the author describes his own life, not least portraying his father who died of alcohol abuse and its consequences for the author himself, is in six volumes spanning over 3,000 pages. He is also the author of a four-volume series following the seasons – ‘On Spring’, ‘On Summer’, ‘On Fall’ and ‘On Winter’ (2015-16).

Carl-Henning Wijkmark was interviewed by Karl Ove Knausgård at the Louisiana Literature festival at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, in August 2016.

Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard & Anders Lindved
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Produced by: Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2018

Supported by Nordea-fonden

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