Struggling with Titles


Karl Ove Knausgaard has been making waves with his six-part book My Struggle. The popular series shares a title with another famous book, Mein Kampf, Hitler’s treatise written from his prison cell. The New Yorker explores the reasoning behind Knausgaard’s choice of title:

Knausgaard sometimes speaks in interviews and public appearances of an irony inherent in the name of the book; where Hitler is all ideology and rigid perfection in “Mein Kampf,” Knausgaard’s struggle as a middle-class dad is quotidian, messy, faintly ridiculous. But his book is not all that ironic or clever. In fact, its directness and sincerity—to the point of frequent, unembarrassed cliché—contributes to the almost shocking immediacy of the voice. “My Struggle” makes no apologies. Knausgaard does not protect himself from the charge of narcissism by turning to self-deprecation or rationalization or literary tricks.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →