Jon Fosse was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature this year. He is perhaps the most important Norwegian playwright since the time of Erik Ibsen.
Isolation, tranquility and the peace of the sea. The region in which playwright Jon Fosse grew up says a lot about him. Fosse spent his childhood and youth in a small village in the fjords of the west coast of Norway. There he found the inspiration for his prose texts and plays that have been translated into 40 languages and performed on major international stages since the mid-90s. For his compatriots Fosse is considered the most successful Norwegian playwright after Henrik Ibsen. As of Thursday, Fosse has now also been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Despite his fame, even as an adult Fosse prefers the quiet of small towns to the hustle and bustle of big cities: like his retreat near Bergen, for example, or the small Austrian town of Heinburg on the Danube, where he lives for periods with Slovakia his wife. It is his third marriage, while Fosse has a total of five children.
The mystical element
The Norwegian writer was born on September 29, 1959. Language – whether in poetry, on stage or elsewhere – is central to his life. His novels and plays often have something melancholy, dark, even mystical. His most recent work published in German and Greek is the novel “The Other Name”. After his literary debut Red Black (1983) Fosse published novels, poetry collections, essays and children’s books.
The religious, mystical element in his plays comes from the depths of his soul. After leaving the Protestant church, Fosse first belonged to the Quakers and then became a Catholic in 2013. He spoke about this change of doctrine, among other things, in his book “The Secret of Faith”, published in Norway in 2015. in the same year Fosse had declared that “you cannot approach faith scientifically. Because then God doesn’t exist. It is behind everything that exists.”
A multi-award winning author
Fosse’s protagonists are often deeply depressed and have failed in their life plans. As for the language he uses, as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote, “directors and actors are fascinated by the pure language, which has a very musical effect with its repetitions and pauses.”
As a young man Fosse was involved in music, he wrote songs himself, played the guitar. Later, he hardly ever listened to music, as he told the Neue Zürcher Zeitung in a 2014 interview, “mostly Bach.”
Fosse is an award-winning author. His play “The Name” won Fosse the Ibsen Prize and the Austrian Theater Prize, while his plays “The Night Sings Her Songs” and “Autumn Dream” were also very successful. In 2002 the Norwegian also received the Scandinavian National Theater Award for “Death Variations” and the following year for all his dramatic works.
Away from the limelight
Public appearances always weighed on him. “Yon Fosse is a very sensitive man,” NZZ wrote of him in 2014. “Social pressure affects him. He used to be able to stand public appearances only thanks to alcohol – when he could no longer control the alcohol, but it controlled him, he stopped drinking – but also appearing in public.”
Later Fosse devoted himself more to prose and poetry. In 2014 he received the Strasbourg European Prize for Literature “for his body of work as a playwright, novelist, poet and essayist, for his powerful, provocative and innovative way of writing in every literary genre”.
In 2011 Norway honored its famous citizen with the state art residence “Grotto” next to Oslo Castle Park, a house originally owned by the poet Henrik Vergeland (1808-1845).
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