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A Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven [Paperback]

Karl O. Knausgaard , James Anderson
2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
Price: £7.89 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

6 July 2009
It's the 1560s and Antinous Bellori, a boy of 11, is exploring the woods above his home in the north Italian mountains when night falls. Suddenly fearful, the boy wanders blindly through the trees, sensing danger at every turn, until he comes, unseen, upon a clearing in which there stand two glowing beings, one carrying a spear, the other a flaming torch: angels - this event is decisive in Bellori's life, just as encounters with angels have been for others throughout history. Beginning in the Garden of Eden and soaring right through to the present day, we revisit key moments when men have come face to face with these intermediaries of the divine: Cain and Abel cultivating their differences murderously; Lot's shame in Sodom; Noah's isolation before the Flood; Ezekiel tied to his bed, prophesying fiercely; and the death of Christ. Alighting upon these dramatic scenes - from the Bible and beyond - Knausgaard's imagination takes flight: the result is a dazzling display of storytelling at its majestic, spellbinding best.

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Frequently Bought Together

A Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven + A Man In Love: My Struggle Book 2 (Knausgaard) + Boyhood Island (My Struggle 3)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 612 pages
  • Publisher: Portobello Books Ltd; New edition edition (6 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846270197
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846270192
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 79,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"'Knausgaard writes world-class literature.... You simply have to read this.' - Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

KARL O. KNAUSGAARD was born in Norway in 1968 and made his debut with Out of This World. This, his second novel, was nominated for the Nordic Council Prize, and is his first to be translated into English. Translation rights have sold widely in Europe.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heavy going 24 Feb 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I imagine this will be a marmite book. If you're happy to take your time reading languid, intricate prose, noodling over every other word to seek out the nuggets of literary truth and poetry, you will be fine with this. If you're seeking a pacy narrative, then not so much! Highly intellectual (pseudo or real, I'm not sure) and with very lofty literary goals, this is an intense book, but not necessarily an engaging one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a masterpiece 21 Feb 2012
By Pip
But like all masterpieces, it requires attention, patience and self-abnegation. If you give it that, it will bring you closer to an intimation of the divine, and of a heightened understanding of the ways of God. It is fit to keep company with Milton's Paradise Lost -- also not an 'easy' read...
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They're no angels 11 May 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A novel with a title as long as the book, relatively speaking. With over 500 pages, the author has provided us with a treatise - his treatise - on Angels.

Initially set in the 16th. century around a young boy, Antinous Bellori who comes across, unexpectdely, of course, a couple of angels high in the North Italian mountains, fishing with torch and spear. Thus we immediately realise that this book will not be the usual religious fare on Angels and their relationship with man. Re-telling two Old Testament stories takes up half the book, a beautifully explored view of the life of people from the period of Genesis going about their average daily life - but with guns, with stoves, takes the reader further into exploration and finally, up-to-date with a troubling account of a boy's relationship with his father and the world in which we live.

A marvellous book. Certainly thought-provoking and, happily, highly readable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Weird and imaginative 23 Sep 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Knausgaard has created a surreal world of angels and Bible characters, which covers the stories we read about in the Bible but not at all in the way we are familar with.

He has a wonderful attention to detail, creating a startling picture of life in the time of Cain and Abel for example. Whereas of course in the Bible we really know nothing of the inner life of these people, we simply get a very brief description of what they did, in 'A Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven' we learn all about the hopes, fears and motivations of these people, but the way Knausgaard does this is gripping.

Admittedly some people will be shocked at the details covered in this story, but there is a strangeness about the Bible stories that needs to be rediscovered. Too often we "normalise" the unusual and bizarre in the Bible simply through over-familarity with the characters and events, with Knausgaard we are in a world we don't understand and perhaps never will.

If William S. Burroughs had a dream about angels in the Bible it might go something like this, or perhaps Knausgaard is the pen-name of Mark E. Smith of "The Fall". This book takes you on a trip full of colours you won't forget.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not easy 27 May 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a well-written and imaginitive work, built around retellings of biblical stories and meditations on the idea of angels. Unfortunately, the writing is rather dense, and thus will not necessarily capture and hold the reader's attention. This makes it harder work than it really needs to be.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Page "Turn! Turn! Turn!"-er 10 Dec 2008
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Karl Knausgaard's book 'A Time to every purpose under heaven' is a bit of a revelation. Although for the first 50 pages or so, you're convinced that this is merely going to be a literary study on every appearance of Angels ever recorded (biblical or otherwise), we take a left turn somewhere along the way. Instead we end up with an original and insightful portrayal of Cain and Abel, and then an equally unexpected study of Noah and his family, pre-Ark.

These two centre pieces are sandwiched between the story of Antinous Bellori (who I'm guessing is a fictional character!), a man who after seeing real-life Angels as a boy, dedicates his life to seeking the truth about their time here on Earth and their relationship with God.

Instead of being sensationalist and providing arguments purely to serve the purpose of offending people, Knausgaard's book is actually really well thought out and delivered really well. You may have to put some of your more stringent religious sensibilities (if Christianity is your thing) aside just to hear him out, but I guarantee it gives food for thought. Certainly brings a fresh perspective.

A couple of little hurdles to get over - firstly, this is a direct translation from Norwegian. I don't know much about Nordic languages, but the effect in the translation is that sentences and paragraphs tend to run on a bit. Once you get your eye in after a dozen or so pages, you'll be fine, but at first it can look like large blocks of text with no breaks!
The second hurdle is that in the fresh-telling of Cain and Abel and Noah's stories, the author has the scene set as an almost middle-ages pastoral setting.
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Looking for "Out of the world" 9 Jan 2014
By Ella
Format:Kindle Edition
I've read the first two books in a week and I have no words to describe them.
It's a new kind of literature, a new kind of writing.
And you cannot stop reading!
I've also read "A Time for Everything" and I'm looking for "Out of the world", Knausgaard 's first book.
Unfortunately it's out of print, so I'm looking for an used one.
If anyone wish to sell it, please contact me at olmoelisa@mail.com
Thank you
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Turgid and in most part, baffling
Firstly, I must confess I finally gave up on reading this book while only half way though it.

I found the style of writing both turgid and self-pretentious. Read more
Published on 26 Mar 2012 by Alan J. Stedall
3.0 out of 5 stars Three stars because I don't know what else to give
I have tried, tried, tried to read this book ... and failed. Maybe I was in the wrong mood to give it a good shot, or maybe it just wasn't my thing. Read more
Published on 5 Sep 2010 by Marcus Pailing (Bartlesnipe's Revenge)
2.0 out of 5 stars An overlong, bleak reinterpretation of the fringes of Christian...
The possibility of retelling Bible narratives has captured the imagination of many authors. Two that have struck me in particular have been God Knows by Joseph Heller and Many... Read more
Published on 20 April 2009 by P. M. Fernandez
3.0 out of 5 stars Can the nature of the divine undergo change? Maybe...
A dense and fairly pretentious story loosely framed around a 16th-century theologian/ philosopher's childhood encounter with a pair of angels... Read more
Published on 25 Mar 2009 by Andrew Sutherland
1.0 out of 5 stars Unbelieveably dull...
Go to the product page, read the Product Description.

That's it. Now you don't have to buy the book. Read more
Published on 22 Mar 2009 by K. Jamison
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious drivel
I was seduced by the advertising blurb and by the first few pages of this novel, which seemed to promise a good story, with plenty of atmosphere and thought provoking detail. Read more
Published on 8 Mar 2009 by John Williams
2.0 out of 5 stars Beyond belief (and my capabilities)
Unless you really enjoy monster heavyweight intellectually challenging tomes and can knock off Dostoyevsky in an afternoon, then you are best advised to give 'A Time... Read more
Published on 22 Feb 2009 by Rowena Hoseason
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