A fabricated response

I wonder how much Knausgaard knows about semiotics and reader-response theory. In A Man in Love he covers both but mentions neither explicitly:

Misology, the mistrust of words, as was the case with Phyrros, Phyrromania; was that a way to go for a writer? Everything that can be said with words can be contradicted with words, so what's the point of dissertations, novels, literature? Or put another way: whatever we can say is true we can also say is untrue. It is a zero point and the place from which the zero value begins to spread. However, it is not a dead point, not for literature either, for literature is not just words, literature is what words evoke in the reader. It is this transcendence that validates literature, not the formal transcendence itself, as many believe.

The last sentence seems to be a clear statement against the essence of New Criticism: it is not the tropes and rhythms and metaphors and motifs as revealed by scholars and critics that makes writing worth doing, it is the consumption of the text by a subject, and that response.

Knausgaard seems interested in the purpose of what he does, as a writer. So what kind of response is validation enough? We know he wants to be famous and successful, so is he aiming for quantity? If a writer reaches a million readers with a thriller, how does that compare to a subtle book of ideas with twenty thousand readers? I don't think quantity counts for anything: a nuanced, thoughtful response is worth many gormless ingestions.

But it is not the case that a response can be crafted with certainty. A writer may aim for veracity or floridity, or she may massage in the similes and themes, or she may write true to her own ideas, and the work she loves, inspired by the writers she loves, but she cannot sit down, write, and guarantee that everyone will get it. This is why writing is hard: because the abyss of unknowable responses stare back from the blank page. A writer who has 'found his voice' is one who has found confidence in his own message, and the way it is presented.

Knausgaard writes that 'just the thought of a fabricated character in a fabricated plot made me feel nauseous, I reacted in a physical way.' He has chosen a different path: to write what happened to him. If he can do this faithfully enough then he side-steps the problem: a reader's response should be a human response, not a critical one. He's built a window not to the truth, but to his truth. How successful he's been should be the job of anyone critiquing his work.