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Wolfgang Hildesheimer: Tynset (Tynset)

As well as being a writer, Hildesheimer was an artist and also had considerable interest in music. He later wrote an acclaimed biography of Mozart. This is particularly relevant to this book as part of the structure is based on the structure of musical works. The rest clearly is not. The story is about an unnamed narrator lying in bed at night, unable to sleep. He tries various things to keep himself amused. He browses the phone directory and then phones other people up and gives them unpleasant news. He browses the Norwegian railway timetable and stumbles upon the insignificant town of Tynset and, during the course of the night, imagines travelling there and what he will find (not much). The novel tells the story of his nights alone, his dreams of his past, of the objects in his house. But, ultimately, what he is looking for is simple. Dieses Nichts ist was ich suche. Ich suche es zu verschiedenen Jahrezeiten und Nachtzeiten, an verschiedenen Orten am Himmel. Dieses Nichts habe ich gesucht, seit ich hier bin. [This nothing is what I am looking for. I look for it at different times of the year and different times of the night, in different places in the sky. I have been looking for this nothing, since I have been here.] He cannot find it in the sky and cannot find in his bed and cannot find it in Tynset. Hildesheimer gives us a fascinating story of a man who looks for nothing but cannot find it.

Publishing history

First published 1976 by Suhrkamp
First English translation in 2016 by Dalkey Archive Press
Translated by Jeffrey Castle