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A Time for Everything (Henrik Vankel #2)

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  472 ratings  ·  67 reviews

In the sixteenth century, Antinous Bellori, a boy of eleven, is lost in a dark forest and stumbles upon two glowing beings, one carrying a spear, the other a flaming torch . . . This event is decisive in Bellori’s life, and he thereafter devotes himself to the pursuit and study of angels, the intermediaries of the divine. Beginning in the Garden of Eden and soaring through

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Published (first published 2004)
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Knausgaard's second book offers everything I fall for in a novel: authority, execution, audacity, oomph, heft. Other than a 75-page stretch midway where I worried this might have trouble maintaining the standard of excellence it had established, for ~425 nonconsecutive pages I was rapt, riveted, engaged, associating parts (the flood story, in general, is rising drama par excellence -- read 35 pages past bedtime one night to finish the section as the water rose) -- and I even ultimately gave the ...more
Wonderful narrative self-assuredness in this book, which, like some sort of gigantic airplane, takes a while to actually get off the ground but is practically unshakable once you're aloft. Knausgard's subtlety surprised me again and again: he keeps his thematic and structural innovations so hidden behind (or integrated into) his story that we barely even notice them. Paraphrased, this sounds annoyingly retrograde, but it's incredibly absorbing. The centerpiece, which centers around Noah and his ...more
I agree with many of the previous reviewers in thinking that this is truly an odd book. It's boring and completely compelling at the same time. You wonder what the point is in filling in improbable details around the biblical stories of Cain and Abel, Noah, etc. but you keep reading because he is a very good story teller. And strangest of all to me is where the author himself is coming from. The narrator appears to actually believe in the absolute truth of every word in the bible about angels an ...more
We were made into the likeness of God. Our ways and nature had been much investigated by thinkers and storytellers since the old days. Yet no one fully understood God, the divine. There were just too much assumptions and uncertainties involved in the contemplation. One of the ways the nature of the divine can be explored was through a study of an intermediate being, someone between man and God. The angels – less than God, more than men – could hold the key to an understanding of the nature of th ...more
When I finished the first section of the book I was oscillating between 3 or 4 stars. After finishing the Coda I was oscillating between 4 or 5 stars. It just brought everything into context of the book being a piece of fiction. Prior to the Coda I was looking for the narrator of "My Struggle 2:A Man in Love" to appear and doubting the actual narrator. Perhaps, I may have been better served if I read this prior to My Struggle.
After reading the Coda my mind was set free and I was able to truly ap
Paul Fulcher
A very ambitious novel - not all the parts are completely successful nor is it entirely coherent as a whole, but a stimulating attempt to do something very different to the usual novel.

The key framing device is a treatise on angels written by a (fictional) 16th Century Italian, Antonius Bellori. Aged 11 he encounters two of them, and what he experiences is so different from what he would have expected, that he dedicates the rest of the life to studying angels.

His treatise involves a fundamenta
David Wegehaupt
Wow, that was one of the most satisfying reading experiences of my life. Knausgaard is getting great acclaim and attention for My Struggle, and while I fully enjoyed the first two volumes of that, this one blows those out of the water, for me.

I mean, as one who grew up religious and now couldn't be further from that, I never thought a book so centered on Biblical stories, on the nature of the divine and humanity, novelizing stories that are told in mere paragraphs in the Bible... This just didn
The narrative backbone of this odd and gripping book is the story of a renaissance scholar whose childhood encounter with a pair of angels leads him to a lifelong vocation of studying and meditating upon the nature of angels. Most of the book is taken up with re-tellings of the Biblical stories of Cain and Abel and Noah.

Many people have noted Karl Ove Knausgaard's way of writing in what seems to be a flat, circumstantial style, filling pages with the most mundane details, while all the time crea
Andreas Veie-Rosvoll
Det her er den Knausgårdboka som både viser frem hans ekstremt gode fortellingsevne, og samtidig knuser myten om at han bare kan skrive (godt) om seg selv. Seksjonene der han lever seg inn i kjente bibelhistorier, samt også de fleste seksjonene hvor han skriver om fiktive Antinous Belloris liv, er noe av det mest ambisiøse (og samtidig innfriende for det aller meste) av moderne norsk litteratur jeg har lest. Samtidig trekkes bokas helhet noe ned av en merkelig og unødvendig siste del, og av det ...more
Epic. Soaring. Ambitious. Canonical. Triumphant. This novel has reset the bar for what constitutes literature for me. Incredible narration of a fascinating story about the oldest book in the Western world deftly and confidently told with profound insight and every now and again a tiny flip-flap wing of humor. Addicts of the author's My Struggle series will enjoy the touches of overlap as well as the knowledge that book two is what was happening in the author's personal life as he wrote this nove ...more
Erik Koster
Half fictionalized re-imagining of certain events that occur in the Old Testament, half theological treatise on the nature of the divine and specifically angels, and half story of the "protagonist" (if there is one) Antonius Bellori's quest to find angels on Earth and a discussion of the occurrences surrounding his life's work, this book is nothing short of amazing.

It took me awhile to finish this book because it's been a long time since I've read anything somewhat challenging. But calling the w
Steve Clarke
Lyrical, moving, chilling...infuriating. I came across my Dad’s notes as I was reading and think they give a good picture of the maddening, enthralling nature of this book:

“Knausgaard’s strange way of writing forces attention. Only now and again are the actual things he writes about interesting, like the descriptions of the nephilim – his strength is rather in what might follow. In other words his writing is dull but one feels that it is leading to something is led on. Unfortunat
After having read the first two parts of the "My struggle" autobiography, this second novel by Knausgard was a bit disappointing for me.
I think I could best describe it as "up and down": the two stories about Kain and Abel and Noah are brilliant and clearly show the remarkable talent Knausgard has for telling a story and gripping the attention of the reader.
But when Knausgard starts his theological/philosophical treatise about the nature of angels, he lost my attention very quickly.
I noticed i
Nathaniel Popkin
This review originally appeared on

For my birthday in August, my wife Rona bought me two books by the Norwegian novelist Karl Ove Knausgaard. She was particularly interested in the recent book My Struggle, translted by Don Bartlett, put out in English by Archipelago Books, and reviewed in both the New York Times and The New Yorker, but she also bought the 2004 A Time For Everything, translated to the English by James Anderson. (Despite the publicity and the author's fame in Eu
Patrick Higgins
This is a hard book to assign a rating to. Some parts are among the best things I've ever read -- 100 pages of Cain and Abel, and 100 pages of Noah. Karl Ove is clearly both a genius and a crazy person. Also it seems like for every one line dedicated to the plot, there are fifteen describing geology and vegetation.
For me to continue this book to the end, I had to know how brilliant Karl Ove is. The book was so very unusual but quite enlightening. Why shouldn't there be a narrative around angels, biblical stories and the like. Karl Ove's imagination, narrative brilliance and ability to weave a engrossing story from the mundane is all evident in this book. He studies and evaluates the history of angels through the bible and other works of ancient writings. He creates extended stories around biblical stories ...more
Knausgaard's older book came up recently in a discussion with a couple of friends about My Struggle, perhaps because Knausgaard's writing prior to My Struggle is more obviously crafted. I read A Time for Everything a few years ago, before My Struggle was published in the US. I remember being immediately struck by Knausgaard's take on Biblical tales, giving dimension to the characters and emotional depth. For me, stories from the Bible resonate strongly because I read and/or heard them when I was ...more
Susan Wyler
Magnificent. I can't get enough of this man's writing.
With Knausgaard, we meander through a tale of angels and Genesis, the details of Cain and Abel's lives, also Noah and his family and the ark he built with his sons. The fire of the seraphim who guard the way to the tree of life, Christ's crucifixion and the death of God. Amazing to read.
Eager for more.
theres a question: what if one were to discard all spiritual readings of the bible and all theoretical theological arguments and read it truly concretely as a story with characters? and maybe cross reference it with some other texts of antiquity? how is one to interpret, say, angels? one might imagine the result would be something like a dan brown book, but in karl ove's hands it becomes something else (maybe because unlike brown, knausgaard does not pretend that the fate of the world hinges on ...more
Bronagh Slevin
Descriptions are excellent, but he lost me on this trek through the representations of angels over the centuries. Prefer his non-fiction.
Lynette Twaddle
A very beautiful and interesting exploration of many of the works of the religious theorists (and, one senses, some cranks) who have concerned themselves with imagining, seeing visions of angels and the history of how we have perceived them in art and thus viewed them generally.
The novel moves back and forth though the Old Testament as well, dipping in and out of Israel which is often merged with a 20th Century Scandinavia, particularly Norway, in a manner so subtle that it is noticed, but neve
Beta version of My Struggle.
I was very curious to read this after devouring volumes 1-4 of My Struggle. I wanted to see if my reaction to Knausgard's other fiction was the same (also, anyone who has read My Struggle will probably be curious about this book since he refers to his experience writing it). I was especially curious about how different his style would be in this book, since he didn't write it at the same breakneck, get-everything-down-as-quickly-as-possible pace.

So...I'm still not sure I can articulate what I fi
I should start by saying I have not yet read My Struggle (volumes avail in the US).

I've never read a book like this before, quite like this before. I haven't had much time to read since I started, but every time I picked it up, I found it hard to put down. The framework for the book, especially at the end (before the coda) reminded me of Borges, a favorite of mine, but the retelling of the Bible stories was the most original and for me the most enjoyable part of the book. I was brought up in an
Several distinct stories come together, not always in ways that are clear, within the covers of the work described by Ingrid Rowland in the New York Review of Books as "strange, uneven, and marvelous" which is best taken with no value judgement implied in any of those words. The fictional Italian boy Antinous Bellori begins and ends the novel proper as subject of an anonymous narrative describing his happening upon two angels in the woods -- they were fishing with a spear in a river -- and his s ...more
Maya Panika
This book is billed as ‘a novel of the nature of angels and the ways of man.’ In actual fact, it’s a re-telling of the Book of Genesis, bizarrely set in Norway and it is interminable.

99 pages are spent in a strange - and frankly deranged - re-telling the story of Cain and Abel. We then move on to Noah where we get another 100+ pages as the albino patriarch and his family build an ark from the pines and birches around his farm high above a fjord and...

It’s an interesting concept, re-setting the B
In't kort: 1562, Ardo, Zuid-Italië. Antinous Bellori, een 11-jarige jongen, raakt verdwaald in het bos en ziet in de verte twee gloeiende wezens, eentje met een speer, de andere met een fakkel. Het blijken twee engelen te zijn.
Deze ontmoeting is bepalend in zijn verdere levenswandel: hij gaat studeren, en maakt van de zoektocht naar de engelen zijn levenswerk.
Hij schrijft een monumentaal werk over de geschiedenis van de engelen, vanaf de Zondeval in de Paradijstuin van Eden tot en met de 16de ee
The second novel by Karl Ove Knausgård is a sprawling, baroque text that revels in the art of storytelling.

It opens with the account of how the Italian Antonious Bellori has an encounter with two angels in the 16th century, which inspires a lifetime of research into angels. This narrative level is reminiscent of Eco and Borges in its analytical, essayist style, and not least in treating the subject of angels as if it were as scientifically valid as those subjects we currently deem scientifically
Annie M
I read A Time for Everything while on vacation and this is certainly the time, without any distractions, to really delve deep and absorb Knausgård's world. His essayist style does grip you and propel you along making the fictional treatise on angels seem scientifically valid. Not to mention his great storytelling skills in the retelling of the stories of the Old Testament. These alone make the book worth reading. The setting of these in the ancient woods of Norway is forgiveable, even though the ...more
Geweldig boek, zeker als je net zoals ik een fan en kenner bent van de bijbel - onmogelijk hieraan te ontsnappen als je opgroeit in een klein katholiek Limburgs dorp in de jaren '80.

Volstrekt unieke interpretatie van het oude testament, waarin enkele van de beste verhalen (de broedermoord, de zondvloed) op een aparte en zeer gedetailleerde manier worden verteld, vanuit een originele invalshoek die, als je als lezer even meegaat erin, totaal logisch lijkt.
Rode draad door het boek is de studie na
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Nominated to the 2004 Nordic Council’s Literature Prize & awarded the 2004 Norwegian Critics’ Prize.

Karl Ove Knausgård (b 1968) made his literary debut in 1998 with the widely acclaimed novel OUT OF THE WORLD, which was a great critical and commercial success and won him, as the first debut novel ever, The Norwegian Critics' Prize. He has since received several literary prizes for his books.
More about Karl Ove Knausgård...

Other Books in the Series

Henrik Vankel (2 books)
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“And it's a disquieting thought that not even the past is done with, even that continues to change, as if in reality there is only one time, for everything, one time for every purpose under heaven. One single second, one single landscape, in which what happens activates and deactivates what has already happened in endless chain reactions, like the processes that take place in the brain, perhaps, where cells suddenly bloom and die away, all according to the way the winds of consciousness are blowing.” 36 likes
“The tree was so old, and stood there so alone, that his childish heart had been filled with compassion; if no one else on the farm gave it a thought, he would at least do his best to, even though he suspected that his child's words and child's deeds didn't make much difference. It had stood there before he was born, and would be standing there after he was dead, but perhaps, even so, it was pleased that he stroked its bark every time he passed, and sometimes, when he was sure he wasn't observed, even pressed his cheek against it.” 20 likes
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