According to Jon Fosse, he would have quit writing four decades ago if he had paid attention to critics.
The recent recipient of the Nobel Prize in literature, Jon Fosse, from Norway, shared that his earlier works received unfavorable reviews and had he paid attention to critics, he would have given up writing four decades ago.
Fosse, known for his literary works such as the Septology series, Aliss at the Fire, Melancholy and A Shining, was honored with the Nobel Prize in October for his revolutionary plays and writing that express the unexpressed.
On Thursday afternoon, during his acceptance speech for the Nobel prize, he mentioned that his writing often included themes of suicide and expressed concern that it may have unintentionally promoted the act. However, he was deeply moved when readers shared that his writing had actually helped them through difficult times.
“I have always been aware that writing has the power to save lives. It may have even saved my own life,” he stated. “And if my writing can also contribute to saving the lives of others, there is nothing that would bring me greater joy.”
Fosse utilized the speech as an opportunity to contemplate his life. He shared a memory from his school days where he experienced a sudden fear while reading aloud. He then fled from the classroom and told his classmates that he needed to use the restroom. He believed that this fear robbed him of his ability to speak and he had to reclaim it. Writing provided him with a sense of security and served as an antidote to fear.
He compared music and writing, noting that in his teenage years, he shifted from being solely focused on music (even aspiring to be a rock guitarist) to writing. He shared that his writing attempts to capture the same feeling he had when playing music.
Fosse proceeded to talk about his approach to writing. He expressed, “As I am writing, I reach a point where I have a sense that the words have already been written, that they exist somewhere outside of me, and my task is simply to put them down before they vanish.”
He stated that the absence of any periods in his book, Septology, is not a deliberate choice. “I simply wrote the novel in a continuous, uninterrupted flow that did not require punctuation,” he explained. The story follows Asle, an aging artist, as he resides alone on Norway’s southwest coast and contemplates his existence.