Jon Fosse: A Nobel Laureate Who Finds the Unspeakable in Silence

  On the evening of October 5, when the Swedish Academy announced that it would award the 2023 Nobel Prize for Literature to Norwegian writer Jorn Fosse, many people were surprised who he was. This new winner does not have many readers around the world, but the “voice of words” he creates is very close to life.
  Becoming a Freelance Writer
  Fother was born in Haugesund, a small town near Bergen, Norway. His family has been growing fruit trees for generations. As a child he studied painting and joined a rock band. His father owned a wooden boat, and Fosse often took it into the fjord. This unique experience of loneliness would later become a quiet place in literature. Fother calls his writing career “embarrassingly early”: he wrote lyrics at age 12 and completed a novel in high school. The first novel “Red and Black” was published in 1983. The full text downplays the plot and presents the mental journey of a young man. At the end of the novel, the boy’s life or death is uncertain. This kind of open-ended exploration is very different from the writing tradition at that time. Two years later, Fosse published “The Locked Guitar”: an unmarried mother accidentally locked the door of her room while throwing out the trash. She was outside the door, and there was a newborn child in the door. She wanders the road, a door carrying her monologue. Fasser is obsessed with this kind of literary experiment. He uses the essay collection “From Narrative Presentation to Writing” to share his experience, including the creativity of intervening in the narrative subject from an individual perspective.
  During college, Fosse studied sociology, philosophy, and finally turned to comparative literature. Norwegian has two writing systems, including Bookmore, which is adapted from Danish, and New Norwegian, which is derived from the local dialect. Few people choose to learn the latter, but Fosse regards it as a writing tool. In his view, “niche language” is convenient for expressing the daily life of Nordic people, and it also contains unchanging and profound meanings. After graduating from college in 1987, Fosse worked in writing schools and government agencies until he became a freelance writer.
  In “Lead and Water”, a reporter encounters a girl who is in a confused state while going abroad for an interview. After helping the girl out of trouble several times, she actually begins to have doubts about her own past. He finally embarked on his return journey, but his unsettled heart and the urge to write came together. Although “Lead and Water” is in the genre of a novel, its monologue and repetition are not without drama.
  Writing about human nature in the present
  Fother has no interest in dramatic art, and the drama he incorporates into his novels seems more like an unintentional move. However, after going bankrupt in 1992, Fosse had to accept a “short and quick” script task. He completed “Somebody’s Coming” in only four or five days. The plot is extremely simple: a couple buys a house on a cliff, hoping that no one will disturb them. Life. The man who sold them the house suddenly came to visit, and panic, fear and even confusion set in, and the idea of ​​staying away from the hustle and bustle disappeared. The script gave people the illusion of being “easy to perform”, but when the actors were rehearsing, they suddenly discovered that this kind of script that collapsed conventional drama elements was difficult to control. “Somebody’s Coming” premiered in Paris and was performed at the Shanghai Theater Academy in 2010. Perhaps thanks to the Zen meaning of Eastern culture, Fosse feels that its Chinese version is the best. Although he is called “contemporary Ibsen”, Fosse does not admire Ibsen’s writing techniques; some people call him “Beckett of the 21st century”, but he admits that he is very fascinated by Beckett. At the same time, Fother will deliberately “rebell” – Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” does not wait for anyone, but when someone arrives, there is no need to wait any longer.
  ”Somebody’s Coming” deals with the topic of marriage, and Fother has also focused on sexual relations in other works. The protagonists of “The Name” and “Song of the Night” are all couples who are about to have a child. The man either does not receive the attention of the woman’s family, or is rejected by the woman because of his continuous failures. In “One Summer Day”, the woman’s husband disappeared into the sea without any warning, leaving his wife trapped in the vortex of memory. There is also “Death Variations”. The husband cheated and the marriage collapsed. The daughter, who could not bear the pressure, threw herself into the sea. The two people who no longer loved each other had to face each other… Fother had two marriages and multiple children, but he could not give Come up with the standard answer to “What is love?” Perhaps the right to write should be an analysis, especially when using pauses and blank spaces, it shows the enlightenment of “silence is better than sound”.
  Of course, not everyone agrees with Fosse’s intentions. For example, some critics thought his plays were pretentious and lengthy, while others complained that the way they were put together was almost like “a bad jigsaw puzzle.” Faced with doubts, Fosse admitted frankly that what he writes is about human nature of the moment, which can be pure, rich, or even complex. His protégé Knausgaard expressed it more directly: “No matter what Fosse writes, his voice is unmistakable.” Fosse
  , who won the Nobel Prize for Literature
  , got up at four or five o’clock in the morning to write, and then continued until nine in the morning. Relying on handwriting with a pen and typing on a laptop, Fosse had created many scripts by 2009. Writing these “high-density” things is quite labor-intensive. Fosse wanted to slow everything down, and he decided to return to novel writing in the form of slow prose.
  In “Trilogy”, the violinist Asler’s father died young, and the maid Alida was kicked out of the house by her mother. The lovers had to steal a ship and go to Bjorgvin to find another way to survive. After their eldest son was born, they changed their names to “Olav” and “Asda” respectively, but some people accused Asler of causing many murders. Years later, their daughter Alice recalled her brother Sigwald, who left home in his early years – he was also a violinist, and his grandson Jorn was a violinist who “published a book of poems”. Fosse placed a person who closely overlapped with himself, and allowed the slightly chaotic time and space to intersect. Another novel, “September,” took five years to write and Fother made several changes. Those long sentences tell about art, love, and time, and show people “mysterious realism.” Just as a play cleverly continues the unfinished plot of the novels of the past, Fother’s novel seems to have an avant-garde dramatic edge. “Trilogy” won the Nordic Council Literary Award in 2015, and “Another Name” and “New Name” in “September” were shortlisted for the 2020 and 2022 Booker International Literary Prize respectively. They are all well-deserved .
  In addition to writing, Fother also serves as a literary consultant and has translated many works by famous writers. Such as Franz Kafka’s “best novel” “The Trial”, Australian writer Gerald Moonan’s novel “The Great Plains”, Austrian poet Georg Trakl’s poetry collection “Dreams” Sebastian”. To paraphrase Fosse, meeting different literary voices is like making new friendships.
  Poems, novels, essays, dramas, children’s literature… Fosse travels through a wide range of literary fields. His works have been translated into nearly fifty languages ​​and he has won numerous awards. For the Nobel Prize in Literature, Fosse had never concealed his desire for it in his early years; this time, when Mats Malm, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, told him the news of the award on the phone, Fosse was driving on a country road, and he felt a little complicated. , but not too surprised, “I think this is a reward for literature. Literature first, not other considerations.” More than
  twenty years ago, Fother won a lifetime stipend from the Norwegian government, which made him write more and more freely. His apartment and country house are both very close to the sea. The west coast of Norway is sometimes peaceful and sometimes majestic, like a unique contradiction that spares no effort to show its contradictions, and then tends to a wonderful calmness when Fosse writes. The Nobel Prize citation stated that “he uses highly innovative drama and prose to give voice to the unspeakable.” These words also have the background of the sea. Fosse dislikes traveling away from home and giving public interviews, and only occasionally leaves his hometown to attend events in various places when he “has to”.
  ”Joan Fother? Who is Jon Fother?” Fother asked.
  ”He is not only an ordinary person, but also a public figure and writer.” Fother replied.

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