Posted on

Knausgaard on the story of Cain and Abel in The Atlantic

I first heard the Cain and Abel story at school, when I was seven or eight. My teacher told it to our class, and it very much made an impression on me. I returned to it later when I was writing a novel which is set in the Bible, so to speak, and I re-read all those stories again. I was struck by how extremely small it was, just 12 lines or something. It was almost shocking to see that this little story could have such an impact, and become the big story about killing,violence, jealousy, brothers—so many huge topics within the culture.

I need 300 or 400 pages to say something significant. I need space to express simple, banal truths—I don’t have the ability to express them without that space, and a novel for me is the way of building that space. But Cain and Abel always surprises me in the way it manages to be both extremely powerful and extremely short.

In this fascinating interview, Karl Ove Knausgaard examines the biblical story of Cain and Abel. The interview is part of The Atlantic‘s By Heart series, in which authors share and discuss their all-time favorite passages in literature. Read the whole interview here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *