Tynset takes place during a sleepless night, but as the work unfolds it becomes apparent that the circumstances of the immediate present serve merely as points of departure. Plagued by incessant rumination, the narrator’s restless mind spins thread after thread of thought, fantasy, and memory into an elaborate tapestry spanning centuries and covering thousands of miles―all without the narrator ever leaving his house. Hildesheimer famously refused to describe Tynset as a novel; instead, he chose to think of the work as an extended monologue whose structure derives from the musical rondo form, with the recurrence of the titular Norwegian town functioning as a refrain.
Wolfgang Hildesheimer (1916–1991) was a German writer, dramatist, and painter known for his contributions to the so-called Theater of the Absurd, as well as his inventive treatments of the biographical genre. He was born in Hamburg, but studied and worked in England and Palestine before returning to Germany to serve as an interpreter in the Nuremberg Trials. He later became associated with the Gruppe 47, and in 1957 settled in Poschiavo, Switzerland, where he spent the remaining years of his life.