'My Struggle' and 'Mein Kampf': Knausgaard, Hitler, and the Legacy of Nazism.
From the start, nothing has baffled readers of Karl Ove Knausgaard's six-volume memoir so much as its title: My Struggle, or Min Kamp in his native Norwegian, or Mein Kampf if translated literally into German. Who names their 3,600-page memoir after the most infamous text in history? After all, there seems little connection between the original author of Mein Kampf, a genocidal maniac, and Knausgaard, a middle-aged father whose books about his childhood, his family and his daily life turned him into an unexpected literary sensation. In book two of My Struggle, Knausgaard describes in minute detail escorting his young daughter to a birthday party: Where's the Hitler in that?
Yet book six, written in 2011 and published in English this September, confirms the feeling I've had all along: The title, Min Kamp, is neither an accident nor a prank, but an echo of Knausgaard's deepest anxieties. It reflects both his fears of sounding like a fascist, and his effort to rise above those fears and create personal and literary meaning in a non-fascist way. Hitler and the legacy of Nazism make up the daring, hugely contentious core of book six: its antithesis, its madness, and its conflicted morality.
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