Karl Ove Knausgaard, “Letter from Österlen”

Paris-Review-Karl-Ove-Knausgaard-Letter-From-Osterlen-Dante“I think Harold Bloom was right when he wrote that Dante was not a Christian poet. It is something else. That said, The Divine Comedy doesn’t end in Lucifer’s maw at the bottom of hell; the journey continues, out on a sea, onto a beach, up a mountain, and out into the heavens. The division of hell into circles, zones, and specific places for specific sins can seem like a bureaucratic perversion of sorts, order baring its teeth in the most twisted manner, but hell must also be understood in relation to its opposite, heaven and all that is good, whose image is light that knows no limits, but floats unhindered and limitless over everything. The good is open and devoid of difference, evil confined and closed upon itself. What makes Dante difficult to grasp is that this is a system humans find themselves in, it is inflicted on them from outside. Both the limiting darkness and the inverse limitless light are steadfast and constant, one marking our connection to the animal and mute biology, the other our entryway to the divine, while man himself arises from something else, his individuality, which is peculiar to each.” — Karl Ove Knausgaard, “Letter from Österlen,” The Paris Review (December 1, 2014), 199-208