The Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to Jon Fosse, 64, a Norwegian writer and playwright known for his minimalist and lyrical style. Who as his first comment said “I’m surprised, but not too much”. His works in Italy are published by La nave di Teseo. The motivation: «For his innovative prose, which gave voice to those who didn’t have one».
Who is Jon Fosse
Extremely prolific writer, born in 1959, author of novels, theatre, non-fiction, children’s books, Jon Fosse is known and appreciated, in Italy, above all as a playwright and, although there are few translated works, we recognize the continuity that he himself confirms to look for. In fact, according to him, all of his texts speak to each other beyond genres, they adapt to each other, they develop into each other, exchanging themes and forming a single great work. In the most frankly non-fiction part, Fosse recognizes the fundamental influence of Heidegger, whose philosophy sought to describe “existence”, just as Fosse – among the best of late European modernism – seeks to grasp the founding structure of life.
He made his writing debut in 1983 and is considered one of the most significant authors of contemporary theatre. He has experimented with different genres, from stories to poetry, from non-fiction to children’s books.
In a literary landscape like the Norwegian one, rather dominated by a certain realism often focused on family relationships, Fosse’s writing remains rather unique, if not even isolated. His search for what is difficult to express, for melody in words, is profoundly poetic. Those who compare him to Ibsen limit themselves to purely geographical and national comparisons, the most evident – and even declared – literary inspiration is that of Beckett: perhaps more in past works, however, while recently his position has become stronger in relation to tradition through the inclusion of formal and thematic elements of classical literature in the texts. a young sorcerer; in 2019 it was published by Nave di Teseo.
Born on 29 September 1959 in Haugesund, a small village on the west coast of Norway, later growing up in Strandebarm, on the spectacular Hardanger Fjord. He graduated from the University of Bergen in comparative literature and has since begun to dedicate himself full time to writing, teaching for a long time at the Hordaland Writing Academy. Today he lives in the honorary residence of Grotten, in Oslo, granted to him by the King of Norway for his literary merits which made him internationally famous. Fosse is an incredibly prolific writer and a multifaceted intellectual, among the most significant voices in contemporary drama, so much so that he has earned the nickname “Samuel Beckett of the 21st century”. He made his writing debut in 1983 with the novel «Raudt, svart» («Red, black»), subsequently experimenting with heterogeneous genres and styles, such as short fiction, poetry, non-fiction and children’s literature. His works have been translated into over 40 languages, including Italian.
The first recognitions
Already at the beginning of the nineties Jon Fosse received his first recognition, especially for his children’s stories; in 1996, in addition to receiving several awards for his prose works, he won the prestigious Henrik Ibsen International Prize for the first time (he will win it again in 2010); since then, his artistic activity has been constantly accompanied by a rich harvest of awards, which led him to win, among others, the Nynorsk Literature Prize, the Swedish Academy’s Nordista Pris, the Ubu Prize, the European Prize for Literature . In 2005 he was appointed Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav and in 2007 France awarded him the National Order of Merit. In 2015 the University of Bergen, which saw him graduate as a young man in 1987, awarded him an honorary doctorate and in the same year he won the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize. In 2016 he was awarded the Willy Brandt Prize, which sanctioned the success of Fosse in Germany, where it is widely translated and where leading directors, such as Thomas Ostermeier, have repeatedly brought it to the stage with great sensitivity and success. His theatrical texts have been staged all over the world, establishing himself as the author of works of frugal structure which give voice, with lucid analysis, to the discomfort that arises from the communication barriers placed between the men and women of our era, between figures of different ages, between people separated by family ties, between living subjects and shadows.
The debut in drama
Already in his first drama «Nokon kjem til å komme» («Something is coming», 1992-93) Fosse’s stylistic signature is fully expressed, characterized by a spare and ruthless writing, ready to grasp all the contradictions of the language and of relational networks, investigating issues such as the lability of communication, the generation gap and the precariousness of family and couple relationships. Author of the powerful diptych on the nineteenth-century Norwegian painter Lars Hertervig «Melancholia» (1995-96; Italian translation by Fandango Libri in 2009), among Fosse’s most famous novels stands out «Sleepless» (Fandango Libri 2011), a modern fairy tale with sweet tones in which the little protagonists, two creatures similar to the Hansel and Gretel of the fairy tale, helplessly witness the cruelty of the judgment with their hearts still full of hope for the miracle that is life. As the author of intense dramas, among the numerous others are «Natta syng sine songar» (1998; Italian translation with the title «E la notte canta» by Editoria & Spettacolo in 2002) and «Eg er vinden» (2007; Italian translation «Io I am the wind” from Titivillus in 2012; “Variations of death” and “Sleep” also appear in the same volume). The volume «Teatro di Jon Fosse» (Publishing & Entertainment, 2006) collects six plays: «The name» (1995), «Someone will arrive» (1996), «And the night sings» (1998), «Autumn dream » (1999), «Winter» (2000), «The girl on the sofa» (2002). Among his most recently published works in Italy are «Morgon og kveld» (2000; «Mattino e sera», La nave di Teseo 2019) and the monumental literary project «Det andre namnet: septologien I-II» (2019; «L ‘other name: septology I-II», The ship of Theseus 2021). «Saggi gnostici» (edited by Franco Perelli, Cue Press, 2018) and «Caldo» (Cue Press, 2018) also appeared in Italian.