As a geologist, much of my work is spent reconstructing the earth’s history, poring over rock outcrops, well logs, and geophysical surveys to understand the evolution of given area through deep time. So while reading Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle, my impulse was to map out the series on a timeline of Knausgaard’s life.
For each book, I charted the narrative through Knausgaard’s life, capturing the pages spent at each age and the jumps from one year to another. Seismic shifts, hidden structures, and critical moments reveal themselves, with Book One’s dizzying time jumps and life-spanning energy giving way to the focused romantic/domestic turbulence of Book Two. Knausgaard then settles in, with a more stable narrative proceeding through his childhood, teenage years, and 20s in books Three, Four, and Five. The effect of the series is clear on Knausgaard’s life, with the final volume revolving erratically around age 40 as he grapples with the fallout of the publication of One through Five.
Here, I present the reconstruction of the series book-by-book, with the previous book(s) showed as a gray background. I’ve also included select quotes from each book.