Armand V. Footnotes to an Unexcavated Novel

Solstad, Dag: Armand V. Fotnoter til en uutgravd roman

Winner of the Brage Prize 2006

“Is a novel something that has already been written, and the author simply finds it, and carefully excavates it? I have to admit, for every year that passes by, I have become more and more aware of the fact that I am wrapped up in this comprehension. But who wrote the novel originally? If I am simply the one who finds it and excavates it? This is a comment to somewhere in the text up there which concerns, or hides, a metaphysical question of the highest importance." (Footnote 5)

In this novel, which consists of the author’s footnotes to a novel that has not been written, Armand V. is the main character.

In the mid 60s, Armand and his best friend Paul Buer arrive at University at Blindern in Oslo. They grew up in the same town on the west side of the Oslo Fjord. Paul Buer ends up with the realists, Armand with the philologists. Paul Buer becomes a meteorologist. The radical and EEC-opposed Armand makes a career as a diplomat and ambassador in world metropolises. The unwaveringly loyal ambassador Armand V. plays the part with a certain distance, on the inside – if not on the outside – he is an unfaithful servant of his country.

The jury's grounds for the Brage Prize:

"The prize winner in the fiction category has influenced Norwegian literature for years. This year's book is innovative and one step further in the author's meticulous exploration of what a novel is and can be. The author himself claims to have ended his authorship, and refers to his two last publications as exceptions. The jury, however, finds that this year's book - about the protagonist who, for different reasons, neither can nor wants to protest against the ruling social forces - is a new and important chapter in the author's story about the single individual's effort to understand and conform to society. The book holds a unique place in the authorship - and consequently also in Norwegian contemporary literature.

With an outstanding, fragmentary construction, the author has created an artistic style which clearly has been redeeming for the writing itself: The unconstrained leaps, the disjointed clarity, the unrestricted scope - all this which will turn Armand V. into a modern classic."

Click here for English sample translation.

Praise for Armand V.:

"Dag Solstad has accomplished a real feat – writing a novel about writing a novel (or refusing to write one) and on top of that a very political book. What more can a reader want."
(Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Switzerland)

”The great one. Dag Solstad’t s Armand V. Footnotes to an Unexcavated Novel is a novelistic triumph with deep democratic-critical insights … Risking to be proven wrong, I think it is time to establish that Dag Solstad is Norway’s greatest prose writer, yes, maybe even ask the question, in this year of Ibsen, if he is not the greatest throughout the times, regardless of genre… The novel Armand V. Footnotes to an Unexcavated Novel is an event in contemporary literary history... If language has soul – and I think we must assume it does – and can feel happiness, then I am sure the Norwegian language cries tears of joy every day Solstad writes”

”Luminous literary moments… A new novel from Dag Solstad is always an event”
(Bergens Tidende)

”Extremely strange and very nice. Dag Solstad has never been odder than in his new novel. In some parts he is also better than ever… Poetic, pathetic, comic, tragic, mysterious, personal, self-destructive, inspired, prophetic: Nothing is strange to Solstad in this novel… Still, there is no doubt that Solstad is now trying to be political in a way he has not been in a very long time, maybe not since the 70s, and in this respect the last hundred pages must be considered both captivating and original"

”Powerful Solstad… With the new novel Armand V., Solstad has made it clear that he is holding on to his style, and in no way has lowered his standards. It is a strongly challenging novel, both in style, form and message, because he keeps an elevated distance to himself. And he provides an important peephole into the entire authorship of Dag Solstad, the way he sees it himself”
(Dag og Tid)

”Masterly novel from Solstad … Aside from the innovative form, the most obvious thing about Armand V. is how current politics once more is the backdrop for the text, which after a while resembles a tragedy. As so many times before, Solstad’s mastery is in how he ties the single person’s destiny and life choices to the greater story … As always, the deeply serious Solstad is funny at the same time … Armand V. is a pessimistic, but at the same time enigmatic book, completely at the same high level as Solstad’s previous work”

”...lavishly funny, grave and very disquieting … Behind the clever composition, the versatile visits into different environments, the odd love stories, the numerous levels of time and the frenetically fabulous wording, there is a seriousness of life you rarely see in recent Norwegian literature. A chess player in the book tends to shine by “hiding his hidden purposeful plan”. That might well be used as a description of Dag Solstad’s style of writing. He can comment on his own work as a writer, but the purposeful plan remains hidden. Solstad plays hide and seek with us, in a delightfully elegant text and leaves us with an uneasiness which hopefully won’t settle easily“
(Vårt Land)


”Solstad still writes better than perhaps anyone else in the country … The novel (collection of notes) is also filthy rich on lavishly funny episodes and little stories: The story of the Catholic Church and the dogma of the double virgin birth is an orgy of humour”

"Footnotes are not the worst thing, when written by Dag Solstad (...) they offer, in addition to everything else, Solstad's (...) lovely, cunning and accurate prose, that hit you like a bullet between the eyes (...). Every time"
(Weekendavisen, Denmark)

"confirms that Solstad is the only Nordic novelist, apart from P.O. Enquist, that can hope for a Nobel Prize in Literature. (...) Solstad is just as entertaining as unpredictable. (...) Ibsen's great successor in Norwegian literature. He passes judgement on himself and his generation (... ) By knowing his own depths he knows others'. He and Philip Roth (...) are my candidates for the Nobel Prize"
(Expressen's literary blog, Sweden)

“in his later works her has developed some incredibly exciting ways of telling a story … you read this novel in one sitting with unfaltering, thrilled interest.”
(Aftonbladet, Sweden)

“I read ARMAND V. as a beautifully written story of spiritual prisons … ARMAND V. is not an easy read, but its voice is totally unique.”
(Smålandsposten, Sweden)

”For a long time I have considered Dag Solstad as one of the most outstanding writers of contemporary Scandinavian literature. His novels are interesting not least because they combine topical social questions with bold experiments of form … one of Solstad’s technically most sophisticated works … an incredibly rich and interesting novel!”
(Dala-Demokraten, Sweden)

"An artistic triumph"
(Svenska Dagbladet, Sweden)

"Dag Solstad is one of Norway's and Scandinavia's most prominent authors (...) Solstad has the amazing ability to combine experiments with great entertainment"
(SVT, Kulturnyhetene, Sweden)

”Dag Solstad has taken an unexpected turn in his literary work. The result is amazing (...) fascinating (...) This is a fantastic book, inctricately composed but strikingly sensitive and direct"
(Sydsvenskan, Sweden)

First published: 2006, Forlaget Oktober
Dag Solstad: Biography and bibliography

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