Den Siste Messias aka The Last Messiah

 The essay that was the base for his later book On The Tragic. One of the best things written. One of the few things that has been translated to english. Read it here. Norwegian here. Its included in On The Tragic and other books.

It explains the the four defense mechanisms of human nature according to Zapffe. Isolation, Anchoring, Distraction, Sublimination.

Om det tragiske (On the Tragic), 1941.

Den fortapte sønn. En dramatisk gjenfortælling (En: The Prodigal Son: A Dramatic Renarration), Oslo, 1951.

Indføring i litterær dramaturgi (En: Introduction to Literary Dramaturgy), Oslo, 1961.

Kulturelt nødverge

Den logiske sandkasse. Elementær logikk for universitet og selvstudium (En: The Logical Sandpit: Elementary Logic for University and Individual Study), Oslo, 1965.


Lyksalig pinsefest. Fire samtaler med Jørgen (En: Blissful Pentecost: Four Dialogues with Jørgen), Oslo, 1972.

Hos doktor Wangel. En alvorlig spøk i fem akter (En: With Doctor Wangel: An Earnest Jest in Five Acts), by Ib Henriksen (pseudonym.), Oslo, 1974. Play.

In this book which Zapffe originally wrote under a pseudonym(Ib Henriksen) he studies Henrik Ibsens universe, and what happens to the characters in Ibsens stories after the curtain has gone down.

Rikets hemmelighet

rikets hemmelighet

Zapffe’s biography of Jesus.
“Jesus must have been a psychopath” – Peter Wessel Zapffe 

Peter Wessel Zapffe: Spøk og Alvor

Dikt og Drama

Barske Glæder is a collection of essays and articles Zapffe wrote. Many of them is about mountainclimbing.

Vett og Uvett
What Zapffe is more known for than his philosophies is his comedic sketches he wrote with Einar K. Aas. Especially in Northern Norway most people (not too young) are aware of these works, and has been staged on theater lots of times. Illustrated by Kåre Espolin Johnson. Its been very influential to later comediens, especially from north, like Arthur Arntzen and På Tryne Teatret.

Jeg velger sannheten (1983)
Translated: “I choose the truth”.

This book is a dialogue between the norwegian philosopher Herman Tønnesen and Zapffe. Tønnesen is known for his attempt to “out-Zapffe” Zapffe. His quote “I choose truth. Happiness is for pigs.”. Its a very interesting book and dialogue, although Tønnesen is a lot more talkative in this book than Zapffe, who is usally rather brief. There’s also an answer to the book by Arne Næss, were he for example argues pigs are underrated animals. A follow-up answer is given by Tønnesen. Its all concluded by a poetic epilog by Zapffe. A very good read, although hard to come by.

Hvordan jeg blev så flink (1986)

Naken Under Kosmos (1999)
Biography by Jørgen Haave. “Naked under cosmos” translated. Perhaps inspired by the infamous quote by Zapffe of a child being thrown into the cosmos. Its a good biography.

Philosoph Literat Biosoph
Sadly Zapffe hasn’t been translated to english, which is a shame. He has been translated to german however. If you are german however and interested in Zapffe, you should look for this book as it has some selected texts by him.

Complete bibliography

1933 Den siste Messias

1941 Om det tragiske

1942 Vett og uvett, Stubber fra Troms og Nordland

1951 Den fortapte sønn, skuespill

1961 Indføring i litterær dramaturgi

1965 Den logiske sandkasse

1967 Essays og epistler

1969 Barske gleder

1972 Lykksalig pinsefest

1974 Hos doktor Wangel, skuespill

1977 Spøk og alvor

1985 Rikets hemmelighet

1986 Hvordan jeg blev så flink

11 Responses to Books

  1. Hi.

    Do you have an update on the English translation of these works?

    Thank you

  2. Why have none of these been translated into English?

    Is there anyway we can make this happen?

    It is a tragedy. Some of the most important sentences ever written are locked away.

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