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A Time for Everything

(Henrik Vankel #2)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,320 ratings  ·  168 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

Paperback, 499 pages
Published November 1st 2009 by Archipelago Books (first published 2004)
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Chleb It's correct that this is the second book with Henrik Vankel. The first one is for some reason yet ot translated into English, but will apparently be …moreIt's correct that this is the second book with Henrik Vankel. The first one is for some reason yet ot translated into English, but will apparently be published in English in 2020 (

On the cover of at least the Norwegian editions, the first book is marked with the number "1", and "A time for everything" is marked with "2". There is no "3", but i think My Struggle is supposed to be the number "3" in the "series".(less)

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Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A God Who Learns

Angels are dangerous creatures according to Thomas Aquinas. There is no mention of them in the creation stories of Genesis, he says, because their existence could become a distraction. The intense brightness of their pure knowledge can blind mortal beings to the divine. Knausgaard is aware of this danger and hints at the risk he's taking at the beginning of A Time for Everything when he says, "...darkness isn't the danger, light is. That is where all the pitfalls are to be found.
Adam Dalva
Sep 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Special book - stretches of major boredom when Knausgard dips too deeply into analysis of art, but the thesis of the work is great. Essentially, it is a fictional argument that the depictions of angels in art are based on reality, and therefore a suggestion that god/the divine are mutable: Why did seraphim turn into cherubim? There are 3 special sections that earned it a 5 star rating: A retelling of Cain and Abel that gives East of Eden a run for its money, a 50 page coda, and most of all the s ...more
Nov 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
"This is an extraordinary tale, and the angels' role in it is not easy to grasp. Traditionally, angels are the link between the divine and the human, at once messengers and the message itself... The angels are action and meaning in one."
-- A Time for Everything, Karl Ove Knausgård

Concourse of Angels”, by J. Kirk Richards

It really is impossible for me to say how many different ways I loved this novel. It wasn't perfect, certainly. It was messy, and uneven in parts, but it was also strange, stron
Lee Klein
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Michael Finocchiaro
A Time for Everything is quite an original work. It is an exposé on the 1584 work by Antinous Bellori On The Nature of Angels, a re-interpretation of a few Old Testament stories in which angels played a great part, and in part an introduction to Knausgård's chef-d'oeuvre, Men Kamp.
The book starts talking about theories concerning angels and then launches briefly into the story of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from Eden before a long detour through the story of Cain and Abel which turns into
A strange, wonderful, provocative book, the most original novel I’ve read, with richly detailed in-the moment narrative interspersed with flights of analysis and rumination, similar to the later My Struggle series. Knausgaard has called this his personal favorite of all he's written, and I can see why. This was his second novel, the first to be translated from Norwegian into English.

Antinous Bellori, an eleven-year-old boy from a mountain village of 16th century Italy, becomes fascinated by an
Having now read most of Knausgård's novels, I think the thing they most obviously have in common is that you have no idea what they're about until you're close to the end. This one is par for the course, and I enjoyed working it out for myself. So if you're similarly inclined, all I'm going to say is that, at least as far as I was concerned, it's an excellent piece of work and there is a definite point. Read it and then see if you agree with me.

If, on the other hand, you're the kind of person wh
There’s a time for everything and now is the time to abandon this sorry excuse of a book.

It’s not because I don’t like the text. Far from it. I actually quite love it. It’s because this special edition, the Kindle-version of the German translation, published by btb Verlag (which belongs to Random House) is riddled with typos and formatting issues that I just can’t stand it anymore.

Over and over there are two or more words strung together to a single one like this: “imUnterholz” instead of “im Un
Jan 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
We know nothing. Nor is there anything to know.

Karl Ove Knausgård’s take on the evolution of angels and their sightings throughout history was as compelling as it was confusing at first.

As with his other novels, the Norwegian doesn’t narrate a story from beginning to end. Instead, a fictional Renaissance scholar named Antinous Bellori is introduced, who, after observing two angels in the flesh as a child, spent many years in writing a book that contains an comprehensive history of angels (On
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a fan of KOK's My Struggle series, I was a natural for this resuscitated effort from his early career. True to form, it stretches out to 500 pages, or about the length of Norway, north to south.

Labeled a novel, it's really almost a collection of novellas under a poorly-framed conceit. Meaning? It's a sweet mess, but the sweet flavors the mess enough for 4 stars.

See, it starts off in the 1600s with this youngster who stumbles upon two angels while traipsing through the woods. That, plus the
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Χρόνος είναι εις πάντα, και καιρός παντί πράγματι υπό τον ουρανόν.

It's been 20 days since I finished this book. And I've been thinking of it every single day. In a few occasions, it kept me awake at night, thinking. I can't pinpoint exactly why (my psychoanalyst would stare at me with a raised eyebrow here), but this book has affected me emotionally and intellectually. It has even got me to read the Bible piece from which the title is generated and that's something, as I've never touched the Bib
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Paul Fulcher
Jun 24, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
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
M. Sarki

There seems to be nothing easy about Karl Ove Knausgård, which is a good thing I suppose. His writing is quite sophisticated in its simplicity. He almost tricks you into reading on even when the body does not want to. He can tell a good story, and often digresses to a degree that is confounding to say the least. In his most recent books (in my case their being the first two volumes of My Struggle, particularly A Man in Love) he flat out wears me out with h
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Cam Mannino
Oct 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
It must be said first that I came to this book cold. Unlike most other reviewers, I had not read other Knausgaard books. I picked it up because I like challenges and I’m always interested in “midrash,” i.e., people expanding, imagining their way deeply into ancient myths and stories, particularly Biblical ones. Given all that, this turned out to be a very tough book for me to finish, but I did.

Knausgaard clearly has an incredible love of detail and a rich imagination. In fact, the amount of deta
David Wegehaupt
Mar 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
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
Daniel Chaikin
26. A Time for Everything by Karl Ove Knausgaard
published: 2004
format: Archipelago Books Paperback
acquired: from amazon in 2014
read: May 16 - June 17
rating: ??

I can't possibly review this fairly as I ran into a worst reading slump early in the book. Seems unfair to blame Knausgaard, even if his book played a role and even if I feel better now reading the next book (Ovid's Amores)...although, not entirely better.

I will say that I'm not a fan of prolonged satirical but entirely true to the text b
Steven Peck
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
As I often do with Knausgård I felt myself swept away by the beauty and wisdom of the narrative. Most of the book is gorgeous. The opening scenes with Bellori, the garden, Cain and Abel, and especially Noah and his family were some of the most thought provoking explorations of the biblical narrative I've read. Knausgård is a writer's writer and is sentences are rich and his descriptions without peer. There is wisdom here. And serious theology. Questions and puzzles I will be pondering for awhile ...more
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
I listened to the audio of this book, narrated by Edoardo Ballerini, and thoroughly enjoyed it. This story is rich, humerous, serious, thought provoking. I look forward to reading more books by this author; this was my first and what a great find.

Karl Knausgard starts at the beginning, in Eden, and examines the angels & their roles. Told in layers and layers of storytelling, this novel unfolds in an easy and continuous way. Knausgard retells some of the Bible stories featuring angels and examine
Gumble's Yard
Jan 13, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2015
The book’s central conceit is that the narrator is reviewing a book by a 16th Century Italian author – Belllori and examining details of his life. Bellori encounters two very corporeal angels when a boy and then dedicates his life first to a detailed study “On the nature of Angels” where he meticuoulsly re-examines all scriptural (including apocryphal and non-canonical) references to angels and other references to them in society to form an overall treatise on them.

Embedded in this however are t
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Akira Watts
Nov 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the first two books of My Struggle, some of which describe the process of writing this book. It didn't quite prepare me. I mean, as books go, this is weird as fuck. A mix of odd theological ramblings, biography, what may or may not be autobiography, and retellings of Biblical stories in 18th or 19th century Norway.

It took a very long time to settle into the rhythm of book. But Cain and Abel, followed by Noah are just plain beautiful and heartbreaking. And then everything becomes odder an
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Angels. Were they real? 11 year old Bellori thought so when he encountered one. An exhaustive and fantastic delve into the history of Angels. Were they damning? Beneficial? Kind? They did God’s bidding and at times God’s bidding was destructive. The incredibly complete stories of Cain and Abel, Noah and his sister Anna were exquisite. I did enjoy it and look forward to reading more by this author!
Nathaniel Popkin
Oct 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Erik Koster
Apr 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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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 then went on to write six autobiographical novels, titled My S

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Henrik Vankel (2 books)
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