October 8, 2023, 2:10 p.m
John Fosse is often celebrated as Norway’s most famous playwright since Ibsen. His works have been translated into about forty languages, and many of his works have been among the most performed worldwide in recent decades. More recently, his name was included in the list of nominees for the Nobel Prize in Literature – as stated in the text accompanying The Portrait of Man from 2014.
His play was first performed twenty years ago. John Fosse said at the time that with his thirty-third play, theater was supposed to end. He “wrote himself blank” as a playwright – and committed himself to advertising. Only recently have the premieres of Foss’s plays appeared again on Norwegian theater schedules. The first two volumes of the fourth part of a seven-part novel series have recently been published in German: “The Other Name” and “Another I”.
John Voss, born in the small village of Voss in the municipality of Strandbarm, had been living in Lower Austria for some time at the time of this conversation: For his third wife, who comes from Slovakia and is currently doing her doctorate in Bratislava, he came to Austria from the north, moved to the Danube. As a writer, “the Beckett of the 21st century” – as critics like to call him because of his taciturn and carefully composed works – has always written poetry and finds inspiration for this in Austrian literature, in Trakl and Rilke.
“Writing has a lot to do with music,” says John Fosse. “Writing is hearing, not seeing. It is always about the beauty of silence in the text.” Voss, who once described himself as a “believer without religion,” has since converted to Catholicism. “This is perhaps the most rebellious step of my life. Although I have always seen writing as a form of prayer.”
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