FRANZ KAFKA SHORT STORIES PDF
Franz Kafka wrote continuously and furiously throughout his short and intensely The Complete Stories brings together all of Kafka's stories, from the classic. Futurians: Don Wollheim, Robert A. W. Lowndes, etc. Later, under the pseudonym of Cyril Judd, he Complete Short Dönüşüm (İş Bankası) - Franz Kafka. Kafka's short stories are ridiculously good, and as such should be readily available. As it's not easy to find them online I decided to make them available here.
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Marthe Robert Einsam wie Franz Kafka S. Fischer Marthe Robert Einsam wie Franz Kafka Aus dem Französischen von Eva Mi. The Complete Stories brings together all of Kafka's stories, from the classic tales such as “The Metamorphosis,” “In the Penal. By Franz Kafka () . and cut short all objections with the insurance doctor's comments; for him of the short conversation the other family members be-.
The book was originally edited by Nahum N. Glatzer and published by Schocken Books in It was reprinted in with an introduction by John Updike.
The collection includes all the works published during Kafka's lifetime, with the exception of The Stoker which is usually incorporated as the first chapter of his unfinished novel Amerika. Some of the stories included in the book are fragmented or in various states of incompletion. Several fables, parables and philosophical pieces are not included in this collection, as they were never meant to be independent stories or never intended for publication.
These can be found in Kafka's diaries , notebooks and letters. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The Complete Stories First edition. Dewey Decimal. On Parables. Franz Kafka works. My special thanks go to my colleague Osman Durrani whose contribution to the volume has been far in excess of his own chapter.
Sometimes the contributors have preferred to translate themselves, sometimes they have used well-known published translations, which they have modified where appropriate.
When reference is made to German, the paperback version of the German critical edition has been used: Hans-Gerd Koch Frankfurt aM: Fischer, B2 Briefe — Letters — , ed. Fischer, The following volumes are also cited: Fischer, BM Briefe an Milena. Revised Edition , ed. Fischer, B1 Briefe — Letters — , ed.
Max Brod Frankfurt aM: TT The Trial, tr. Breon Mitchell New York: Malcolm Pasley Harmondsworth: Penguin, M The Metamorphosis: Tradition, Backgrounds and Context New York: Norton, , ed. Max Brod, tr. Joseph Kresh London: Martin Greenberg with the co-operation of Hannah Arendt London: Erich Heller and Jurgen Born, tr. Richard and Clara Winston New York: Schocken, xv!
Jewish financiers are blamed for the collapse of the Panama Canal project. Thousands of French investors lose their money. After Alfred Dreyfus, a captain in the French army, is found guilty of passing military secrets to the Germans, France becomes embroiled in a bout of anti-Semitism, during which the loyalty of French Jews is called into question. The Dreyfus affair echoed through the decades in pre-Hitler Europe. After sampling courses in chemistry, art history, and German literature, finally settles on law and is awarded a doctorate after five years of study.
Mendel Beiliss is accused of murdering the boy to use his blood for ritualistic purposes. The Tsarist authorities know of his innocence but proceed with the prosecution; Beiliss is finally acquitted. See Roger Hermes et al. Wagenbach, It may help us to read him better. In letters and diaries he says many things about writing in general and about his own in particular which, illuminating in themselves, may also do a real service.
They may alert us to the peculiarity of his novels and stories, and so to how we might best try to read them. Certainly, there is no key to Kafka, but just as certainly there are better and worse ways of reading him.
They are: Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. Writing The premise is necessity. Writers have to write. Holderlin replied: Your sense of yourself is founded on other worthwhile activities too, and so you are not annihilated if you are not a poet. If I am not to ponder things and write poetry Then life to me will not be life at all.
And he further developed, to an extreme degree, the unhappy possibility contained in the image of the silkworm: The premise is: Kafka had to write. And it is important to understand at the outset that the premise is thoroughly paradoxical.
For the sake of his very life he had to do something harmful, possibly fatal to his life. Along with necessity comes bad conscience. But why should you feel bad — blameworthy, guilty — about something you have to do? The first is that whatever he writes and however well he writes it he feels that it could have come out better. And the second reason for his bad conscience lies in his always asking himself the question: That question is fundamental. What justifies the activity which for him is a necessity?
Take the second reason first: Kafka has a bad conscience about his writing, however well he does it, he asks what good it is, because in his eyes much more apparent than any good is an immense harm, to himself and to anyone in close dealings with him. He observes with morbid satisfaction the terrible specialization that, for him, being a writer entails: His personality has impoverished itself, to serve one purpose: It is easy to recognise in me a concentration on writing.
When it became clear in the organism of myself that writing was the most fruitful direction my being could take then everything ran to that point and all my other capabilities, at first directed towards the pleasures of sex, drinking, philosophy, music, they were all left empty. In all those directions I became emaciated.
That was necessary, because my powers in their sum total were so slight that only when gathered together could they even half serve the purpose of writing. I leave aside the question — though it needs asking — whether in Kafka it really was that bad and whether he appeared so deformed to other people. The diaries and letters are a sort of trying out the worst about himself, perhaps to exorcise it or as an act of apotropaic magic.
But in that version of himself he is a person specialised to the point of deformity and incurable damage by his vocation. And inflicts not just on him. Kafka also took satisfaction in the understanding of himself as, for instance, the ruin of Felice Bauer and her family: It is the only organic explanation there is, one that quite overrides whatever in my relationship might otherwise be astonishing. He berates himself for not writing to the limit of his abilities or for not giving himself up to it wholly.
For example: He is dissatisfied because he does not have the courage to create the circumstances in which writing could be done with more chance of success. This latter stricture often boils down to the flat antithesis between writing and his job.
He wrote to Felice that he looked about him at work with such looks as perhaps had never been seen in an office before 3. Naturally, this proof added itself daily to the piles of proof against him in the court of his own conscience. But if he was unfit for life without the office, with it he was living a life that denied his writing its proper chance. He notes against himself every occasion when he fails to give writing its proper chance; when he fails to organise his day so as to have time — and the best time is the hours of the night — in which to write.
Sleeplessness itself — caused by writing, he says He writes to Milena that sleep is an innocent thing and for that reason will not visit a man like him 4. On 21 January TB3: On many days in his diaries he lays the stigma of his failure to write.
Thus here in the summer of So he fails to write; or he writes and the writing is a failure. And what would success matter? Would it outweigh the damage done by trying? He doubts it. And that condition of acute dis- satisfaction with himself, largely caused by writing, then often becomes the stuff of the writing itself.
It is a vicious circle, peculiarly vicious; and yet at the same time potentially redemptive. Writing is not only the cause of much of the misery and the means of its expression but is also, potentially, the means by which the writer might get free of it.
He held out that possibility to Felice Bauer: And two years later he set that possibility down as his only hope: In utter helplessness wrote scarcely 2 sides. Fell back a great deal today, despite the fact that I had slept well.
But I know that I must not give way if I am to get over the lowest sufferings of my writing — writing that the rest of my life is holding down — and come into the larger freedom which is perhaps awaiting me. Writing is simultaneously the affliction and, potentially, the means by which that affliction can be escaped from and left behind.
Josef K. Both are — quite bizarrely — liberated as a result of the awful change in their circum- stances, which leads in both cases to a miserable death.
The fact that Kafka never felt it did do that for him is sad, for him; but not, I think, any proof that the writings might not do it now for others, his readers. The premise in paradox is worth insisting on. It ought to prepare us for paradox in the work and deter us from saying that things must be this or that.
They are more likely, in Kafka, to be this and that, in contradiction. Imagining with pleasure, after an interval of not being able to, the turning of a knife in his heart; assessing where exactly it would be best to insert the point of a knife into his neck; dissolving, as he puts it, in sadness and uselessness; watching himself like his own self-appointed torturer. When he gave his diaries to Milena to read, then asked: Nobody can love in return who will not acknowledge that the person loving him may after all have grounds.
A context and perhaps the grounds for self-hatred come with the ideology and its practice in familial and social structures that the victim inherits or succumbs to. Gerard Manley Hopkins in the grip of the Jesuits is an example. And one salutary movement in those sonnets, almost a revolt, is the concession that he ought to be kinder on himself.
Hopkins writes: My own heart let me more have pity on; let Me live to my sad self hereafter kind, Charitable; not live this tormented mind With this tormented mind tormenting yet. Thus after some terrible coll- apse in January He even concedes he may not be wholly lost: But there are few such concessions, in all the years. Many writers have had a poor opinion of themselves and their achieve- ments. The answer is: Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain. In fact the personal complaints in them are interspersed with and greatly outweighed by bits and pieces some very substantial of fiction: And these are all, each and every one of them, steps in the direction of release and redemption.
As is also in the diaries the abundant evidence of close, sustained, and lively attention paid to events and to other people. Day by day Kafka tries to set down exactly what an event and what the interactions of people in it were like.
And there are many glimpses of other people, particularly girls and women, on the street. All these accounts, some brief, some quite lengthy, count as writing; they are assessed, like the attempts at fiction, as pieces of writing: Writers write because they have to, and every sentence they write comes with its own criteria for success or failure.
All sentences can be written more or less well. All come with an injunction to be written as well as possible. Understood like that, writing, for a writer, is indivisible from life. The making of sentences, even on the narrow subject of himself, is — potentially — redemptive, because in that exercise, as in all his other writing, he is trying to arrive at truth, clear truth, truth in the form of clarity.
And it might be that if on the subject of himself he can arrive at truth, if he can understand the subject ever more clearly, perhaps that truth will set him free. There are obvious risks. Indeed, formulating, ever more clearly, truths about himself can become a masochistically self-delighting end in itself.
Kafka knew that perfectly well. Hence his grave doubts about the value of his own facility with words. And another reason why making truthful sentences out of his own misery might not liberate him from that misery is this: The hope must be that the creative charge released in the making of sentences, even on the unhappy subject of oneself, will actually counter the revealed misery of their material; but the procedure is risky.
Fictions are a better bet. The more Kafka turns to fictions, the better. That way hope lies. But the fictions themselves, in his assessment, are constant failures.
He thinks of him- self as a writer with failing powers. He looks back on earlier work, itself a failure, as achievements beyond his present ability. Was there ever a writer so convinced of failure? All writers are, more or less. Failure is intrinsic in writ- ing. It is there most palpably in the gap between conception and realisation: Certainly everything I have already conceived even word for word in a good feeling or perhaps only incidentally but in definite words, at the desk, trying to write it down, it all appears dry, wrong, unmoving, an obstacle to everything around it, anxious and above all full of holes, even though nothing of the original conception has been forgotten.
But the palpable gap, though deeply disappointing, is that without which the writer would not be driven on and on to write. The gap is the motor of writing: After every failure the imagination lifts itself up, and again the inadequate powers of realisation come struggling after.
This may be the despair of the writer at the time, but it is the truth, and writing that constantly comes up against and acknowledges that truth serves life and our lives better than any art proceeding in the illusion that it should or could ever master life.
The passage quoted above continues, in explanation of the failure: The chief reason is of course that I have good conceptions only away from the paper at the time of the uplifting of my spirit — an uplifting I fear more than I long for it, however much I do long for it — but that then the abundance is so great I have to refrain and out of the stream of it take blindly what I can in snatches and by chance so that when it comes to a thoughtful writing down my acquisition is nothing in comparison with the abundance in which it lived and is incapable of fetching that abundance in and is thus something bad and distracting because it tempts me uselessly.
Kafka finished none of his three novels and — relatively relative to the number he began — very few of his short stories. True, unfinishedness may be viewed not as failure but as a virtue; Romantic poetics makes a virtue of it. The unfinished text is one still under way, in process; unfinishedness is appropriate, truthful. We must come back to that positive view later, but say now that there is no doubt that Kafka wanted to finish his novels, did his level best to, and abandoning them felt he had failed.
And failure is apparent more immediately, in every step of the process itself. A paragraph, a single sentence, often seems to Kafka to be failure manifest. If writing comes out of bodily and spiritual uneasiness, then failure to compose adequate sentences only compounds that unhappy existential state. Almost no word I write fits with any another, I can hear the consonants rubbing together like bits of tin and the vowels sing along like black slaves up for sale.
My doubts encircle every word, I see them sooner than I see the word. Thus, on 10 and 12 March , what might be the beginnings of two stories: Nothing, nothing. In the description of the landscape I did think, for a moment, that I was seeing something right. Thus the whole enterprise is riddled with failure. Single paragraphs perish under his look. The large works peter out.
Insisting so much on failure, Kafka has at the same time a very clear idea of what success would be like. Indeed, his sense of failure is born out of and nourished by his intense imagining of success. It seems to him, looking back, that he could do it once, that he did do it, that he had it in him to succeed.
He is left with the dreadful anxiety that perhaps he missed his chance: Letters and diaries of , needless to say, were littered with self-beratings and harsh verdicts on his achievements. I really mean the whole bodily and psychic state of the man in the act of writing. The achievement of that state, in which, out of which, successful writing will be more likely to come, is itself cause for exultation or, since he rarely achieves it, for continual fretting after it and self-recrimination that he fails to allow or induce it.
The imagery he uses to describe this success is that of birth or the sudden and beneficial breaking open of a wound.
Again and again in his injunctions to himself he urges the recovery of a state in which writing would break forth from him, in which he would be borne along by it: When will it take me up again?
It is an imagery of going down, of sinking down, of diving: There are some connections that I feel clearly but am not in a position to know.
It would be enough to dive a little bit deeper, but there the lift is so strong that I could believe myself to be on the bottom did I not feel the pull of the currents under me. Anyway, I look up, to where the light comes from and in its thousands of fragments breaks on me. I climb, and drift around on the surface, even though I hate everything on the surface. In the subordination of the self to the process of writing the self is, for that time, forgotten.
In that primary sense there are others writing may be understood as release and redemption.
Kafka was a writer for whom writing was an existential necessity. It was a cause of guilt in his life because of the damage it did. But it was also his best chance of preserving and asserting himself in the world. It fortified him. He wrote: By writing, which might indeed be perilous, which ac- tually risked unfitting him for life itself, he could hope and sometimes believe that he would come through into a greater fullness of life.
But in practice he was chiefly persuaded not of the possibility of redemption but of the constant presence of failure. He fails to finish, his powers are failing, but he has a luminous sense of what success would be like.
The state of body and soul in which successful writing might take place is one of deep concentration on a developing event. Night, at least so long as he is still in employment and especially whilst still living at home, is the most propitious time for the attempt.
The two conditions may actually be one and the same, turning a different face. And by both the writer is driven on to write. They are trying to do what the writing itself is trying to do. The process of writing and its subject are allied. And the third constituent of the whole endeavour is our reading, which must undergo what the writer and his heroes undergo: Reading There are different ways of reading as there are of writing.
How should we read Kafka? Bearing in mind how his fictions were written, and what in his case the profession and act of writing entailed, how for the greatest pleasure and profit should they be read?
It is easier to say how not. It is a means by which the clar- ification of truth may be arrived at and the life of its author and the lives of its readers may be changed.
Understood thus, the writing requires our participation in that labo- rious process. Everything about the fiction — its author, its genesis and most importantly since we might know nothing about its author or its genesis its manifest workings — absolutely forbids reductive reading. Any reading that supposes, or in its procedure implies, that Kafka, already in possession of the truth, then merely encoded it in the process of writing, so that the business of literary criticism is decoding — any such reading must be wrong.
Seen thus its unfinishedness is itself expressive. Failure it may be, but in an endeavour very unlikely to succeed. And if the author, sentence by sentence seeking after the truth, fails to arrive, how should the critic? Their essence, their peculiar power to harm the individual in their grip, is that they are irreducible. Talk- ing to Milena about the anxiety Jews live in, Kafka describes the state as one of always feeling threatened. Threatened by what?
Guiltiness and anxiety are not the whole of Kafka, but they do condition much of his writing and being themselves irreducible they are an expressive analogy of the irreducibility of the writing itself.
Reading reductively is reading acquisitively. The supposition behind it — quite false, in my view — is that the text contains a finished truth, there to be had.
Kafka is one author for the reading of whom mere observation and description of what goes on in the texts may help as much as interpreta- tive criticism. Here a few such observations. They concern motifs in and characteristics of the stories which demonstrate that understanding is, to say the least, a problem and that the search for the truth, though it has to be attempted, is laborious and probably neverending. Failure to arrive, failure to understand K.
And yet it is the air I breathe, so long as I am to breathe. Bureaucracy is the most developed image of this. A narrator, in the act of narrating, is trying to make sense of an event or a phenomenon. Or again and again in the novels the hero, in his innocence or ignorance, has things explained to him by people who may know better.
Altogether, in novels and stories, there is a very great deal of discussion, explanation and interpretation of behaviour. Exegesis of texts Letters from Klamm, for example.
A letter read in the dark, in the wind, by candlelight, subjected to interpretation. Kafka was a collector of such emblematic or exemplary stories. He related one such, concerning Dostoevsky, to Milena, and asked her: Traditionally, in the New Testament, for example, parables are used to make concretely clear a new or abstract or for some other reason difficult concept. The gesture of clarification is belied by its effect. Extending this category or observation, which has to do with the belying or failure of traditional gestures and structures, we can point to the disheartening version of the Quest, in The Castle, and of the Damascus Road Experience in The Trial.
And Josef K. True, as readers we are not wholly confined within the experience of the hero. If that is the nexus out of which they arise, if that is what they are about, if that is actually what con- stitutes their most characteristic texture and procedures, then they cannot be susceptible of reductive interpretation.
Any such reading goes quite against their grain. Three larger characteristics reinforce that view. For example, Titorelli presenting the possible outcomes of a trial; or the Vorsteher recounting to K.
Such characters are pedantically, tiresomely, exact in their accounts.
They compose sentences adequate to their complicated tasks. And in so doing they rather prove the futility of this, the best, the considerable best, that they can do.
Wherever the truth is, it does not seem reachable by that route. The characters actually demonstrate the inadequacy of the means — their considerable powers of ar- gument, discrimination, definition, speculation — at their disposal. They and their author are well equipped, but with something that will not help them.
As readers we participate in the failure of their kind of lucid reasoning. Disproportion, its fundamentally disquieting effect I mean especially the disproportion between the transgression and the pun- ishment.
There is something unbearably worrying about that relationship in a matter of justice. Either the world is thoroughly unjust; or you have not understood its laws; or both. Yes, the ordering of the world is thoroughly unjust.
The Kafka Project
No, you have not understood its laws. This latter possibility haunts The Trial. The story, what is it really about? We feel it is not really about what it is ostensibly about. Or about the status of the reality it is trying to grasp. What is going on?
What is really going on? Kafka proceeds through metaphor, not through allegory. Allegory suits a mind already sure of its ideas and chiefly concerned how best to set them down. Between the allegory and the idea you might translate to and fro: But no such traffic is possible with metaphor.
The idea and its concrete realisation are indissolubly fused. The metaphor is the only way of knowing. We might be glad that there is such a way at all, but, typically, Kafka mistrusts even that sole possibility. Indeed, metaphor seems to him to demonstrate the inherent insufficiency of writing. He notes in his diary a metaphorical usage from one of his own letters: Metaphors are one among many things that make me despair about writing. How unindependent writing is, how dependent on the servant girl lighting the fire, on the cat warming itself by the fire, even on the poor old man warming himself.
All these are independent and autonomous activities, only writing is helpless, does not dwell in itself, is a joke, is desperation.
Kafka shifts into fictions that are large, finely ramified and autonomous; he dwells in them in writing, and we must in reading. The hunger artist is very anxious to have witnesses there in the cage with him, to see that he does not cheat. His truth becomes less and less verifiable by anybody else.
His chosen mode brings with it the risk of arbitrariness and dishonesty. For a writer as scrupulous and self-doubting as Kafka, that risk is a terrible burden. Goethe, weary of being asked or told what Elective Affinities was about, made a pronouncement that will help in reading Kafka too. He said: The work is actually engendering the criteria by which it might be judged. The successful work corroborates itself.
It is then, like the human activities noted above, independent and autonomous; it dwells in itself. It opens then in the act of writing. Invention Erfindung , in the old sense of the word, meant the discovery of something already existent and waiting to be found. The thing is already there, if you can only bring it to the surface. Reading is participation in that invention. It is an entry into, a dwelling in the metaphor being brought by the act of writing into the light.
That metaphor does relate — vitally and critically — to our reality, but not as allegory nor as mimetic representation. It is not reducible, not replaceable; nor, since it is not a means to an end, is it discardable. Its relationship to our reality our lives is simultaneously enigmatic and indisputable.
Kafka thought of his readers as necessary participants in the process of making sense. Our search for the truth of the text, our conceding it or denying it in the course of every reading, is akin to the writerly and existential process he is involved in, body and soul, himself.
Reading is always a dialectical process, and reading Kafka eminently so. Drawn into his metaphors, dwelling in them while the fictions last, we are nonetheless required to assert our right to contradict.
Often his texts, in their depiction of lovelessness, in their reduction of human relations to a matter of relative power, cry out for their own contradiction. He tries out the worst, and in so doing, through the negative, through a palpable absence, conjures up the need for a better way of being in the world.
NOTES 1. Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho London: Calder, , p. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Tasso, lines — Norman M. Mackenzie Clarendon: Oxford, , p. Faber, , p.
Letter to Karl Friedrich von Reinhard, 31 Dec. Akademie Verlag, , p. Since his death he has been claimed as one of the foremost Jewish authors of his age, as the greatest modernist prose writer in the German language, and — at least after — as an icon of both German and Austrian literature. More recently, though with less enthusiasm, he has been hailed in his homeland as a Czech, where his memory helped inspire resistance to Soviet dominance in the s.
One thing is certain: Yet the Europe which moulded this internationalism has been lost; it was torn at the seams by the First World War and the Versailles settlement which concluded it and then shredded by Hitler.
Today Jewish Europe barely exists in the lands Kafka knew and the multilingual Habsburg Europe of Austria— Hungary long ago gave way to largely monolingual nation states. After the extermination of the European Jews came the expulsion of the Czech Germans in But this does not mean that our twenty- first-century world is not linked to his. He learnt Latin and Greek as a matter of course, though not necessarily with joy, which meant he could read his favourite classical authors in the original.
He read the German and Austrian classics Goethe, Kleist, Grillparzer as part of a cultural canon which was at once his own as a German and not his own as a Jew.
The European greats of the nineteenth century belonged indisput- ably to his understanding of his own modern tradition: There is no sense in which he read them to savour foreign style or experience; he regarded them as fellow Europeans in a way which is rarer three-quarters of a century after his death. Prodigious as his linguistic accomplishments may seem to us now, they were not unusual; his supposedly uncultivated father was more or less trilin- gual.
As his own father had not married until the Habsburg laws re- stricting Jewish marriage had been lifted in , Hermann was a second- generation Jewish migrant. When the family moved from country to city, they transformed themselves from unemancipated, second-class Jewish subjects of the emperor to semi-assimilated bourgeois businessmen.
The changes had been rapid and the emerging social and cultural formations which gener- ated identity and underpinned relations within society proved fragile. The comments inspired a once fashionable book and in the era of identity politics have lost none of their urgency or incisiveness.
Vienna, where he attended a Zionist congress in , and Berlin, home of Felice Bauer, are the two other points of his Central European cultural triangle after Prague. His Europe is demarcated too by the locations of the sanatoria and health resorts he visited from his early twenties and where he spent increasing lengths of time in his last five years: Jungborn in the German Harz, where he enjoyed gymnastic exercises au naturel; Zuckmantel in Silesia then Germany, now Poland ; Meran, which became Italian Merano in ; and Matliary just over the Hungarian border in Slovakia.
His natural hinterland, however, was Czech-speaking rural Bohemia, a fact again brought out by the locations where he was sent to convalesce in his last years: Apart from his first novel, The Man who Disappeared, which he set in an imaginary USA he had learnt about from books and lectures though it was home to some of his relatives , Kafka rarely specified where his fictions took place, but that does not make them place-less, let alone time-less.
When he mentions real places in his early stories and sketches Berlin, Constantinople, St Petersburg he does not do so for the sake of realism.
The Traveller is one of his favourite figures one thinks of K. But they are metaphorical itinerants who have ventured out from home into a threatening and puzzling environment. The chapters in the Companion devoted to the three novels bring out these qualities in different but related ways, suggesting not only the unity of the novels but showing too how Kafka was preoccupied by the theme of belonging and non-belonging. Symbolically Russia was one of his most evocative locations, suggesting both personal loneliness in its immense open spaces and the threat of barbarism.
It also witnessed the rise of international social democracy, the failed revolution in Russia in and the Bolshevik takeover in Moscow in , the aborted German revo- lution in —19 and a similar uprising in Budapest. Of most concern to Kafka was the rise of anti-Semitism and the burgeoning Zionist movement in which he took a great interest.
The age was marked by technological inno- vation, which both fascinated and repelled him, and rapid industrialisation, particularly in Bohemia, the industrial powerhouse of the empire.
Technology and industrial relations, how one set of people — employers — dealt with another set — their employees — were quite literally his bread and butter. In addition to industrialisation and urban migration, changing cultural identities and class conflict, Kafka witnessed great changes in the status of women during his life time. He liked strong, independent women: It is little wonder that identity and cultural dislocation, gender and politics feature so strongly in many of the chapters to follow in the Companion.
If Kafka does not name places in his fiction, his rootedness, if that is the right expression, in Central Europe becomes clearer in his correspondence and diaries, which record his journeys. Their places of death, often hundreds or thousands of miles away, point to the relationship between geography and history in this region at this time. Felice Bauer was an assimilated Berlin Jew, who fled Hitler to the United States where she died in ; her friend Grete Bloch shared her background and profession and perished in the Holocaust after emigrating as far as Italy.
Dora Diamant, whom Kafka met in the last summer before his death, was the daughter of orthodox East European Jews. She fled Hitler to die in London in Does it seem that in his great affairs of the mind and the heart Kafka was trying out identities or testing himself against them? The origins and fate of his male friends complement this picture. They were all Jewish, at least by background. Kafka recommended him as a translator of his stories to his publisher, Kurt Wolff, who was also to flee to the US.
But two schoolfriends, Paul Kisch and Oskar Pollak, with both of whom he conducted a correspondence which has survived, show possibilities for Kafka himself. Both, in different but related ways, more than flirted with German nationalism: Pollak introduced Kafka to the ideas of the Kunstwart journal, an aesthetic but decidedly Teutonic publication. On the outbreak of the First World War he volunteered for the Austrian army and was killed in action on the Italian front in In the case of Kisch, the brutal ineluctability of ethnic identity becomes clearer.
Despite repudiating his Jewishness and signing up completely to the nationalist cause, he perished in Auschwitz. Discovering his parental and ancestral cultural roots, Kafka articulates his own sense of European cultural identity most fully in this short lecture.
Yiddish is the opposite of ordered and harmo- nious because in its ever-changing variety it has not been rationalised on the printed page; it belongs to the people as a spoken language and the peo- ple will not let the grammarians, those repressed codifiers, get their hands on it. In turn, this is a metaphor for the fluidity of Jewish identity. All of Europe seems to be Yiddish and Yiddish all of Europe, united by linguistic difference. As usual with Kafka we have to peel away the textual layers to get at what he is really talking about.
Here he is constructing a series of images of what it is like to be a Cen- tral European Jew. In short, they will recognise themselves in the exotic performances, which they are about to see and hear from the Yiddish players. Once Yiddish has taken hold of them, they will not be able to understand their earlier contentedness; they will be afraid, not of Yiddish, but of themselves.
There is something of a paradox inherent in this definition of Jewish iden- tity, as Jewishness could also be — and was more often — suffocating in its re- strictiveness. If there was one thing which Kafka grew to hate more and more, it was the provincial, the narrowness of family and cultural background. He advises the young Minze Eisner to escape her background: This is why he sometimes hated his own Jewishness; it was stifling because all-encompassing.
As Anthony Northey has argued: In the United States he is frequently thrown together with his fellow Europeans, including some from the empire, Austrians, Slovaks, Hungarians and Romanians, and others from beyond, French, Italians, and Irish, whose untrustworthiness he has been warned about.
While they are clearly distin- guished from one another, their shared foreignness in the New World, that is their common cultural experience as Europeans, binds them together. The Europe which Kafka knew changed once more in with the fall of Soviet Communism, precipitated in Czechoslovakia by the Velvet Revolu- tion, which in turn led to the split between the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
These great upheavals provide one reason for another book about Kafka, the greatest Czech author who did not write Czech. While Anthony Northey debunks some of the myths surrounding perceptions of his life, he shows too what a potent icon or legend Kafka remains. But what I hope the following chapters show is that no justification for yet another book on Kafka is necessary because each new generation will always have something new to say about him.
New light is cast on his texts by new trends in literary and cultural theory, just as new research continues to shed more light on his contexts. Magic Prague, pp.
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, tr. Dana Polan Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, Rolf J. Goebel, Constructing China: Camden House, , pp. Translated in Anderson ed. Yale University Press, , p. Schocken, Davies, Norman, Europe: Oxford University Press, Philosophy, Law, Religion Columbia: Camden House, Magris, Claudio, Danube: Patrick Creagh London: Collins Harvill, Kieval, Hillel L.
Ripellino, Angelo Maria, Magic Prague, tr. David Newton Marinelli, ed. Michael Henry Heim London: Picador, Rather, it has to do with the way he employs modern America both as the main locus of social contest and as a metaphor. Kafka repeatedly evokes the great American myth of boundless opportu- nities: In chapter 5 American architectural and technological modernity is further underlined by the multistorey Hotel Occidental, which contains a buzzing self-service restaurant and operates some thirty lifts.
These descriptive details, however, do not denote the American reality mimetically but rather connote a specifically European version of America. The opening description of the Statue of Liberty indicates this clearly. The arm holding the sword seems to rise up afresh and, round the Statue, free winds are blowing.
Some critics have interpreted the sword-bearing Statue as a symbol of a destructive power, others have read it more positively as an allegory of justice.
The point of this distortion, however, is twofold: Expelled from his family and home, Karl is a deterritorialised figure who, as this chapter argues, is unable to read what he sees. From the very moment of his arrival in the new world he perceives unstable images and distorted objects which are simultaneously both vivid and blurred, hyper-real and anti-mimetic.
Paradoxically, by taking mimesis to its extreme and carefully registering the contradictory sensual impressions of the hero, the narrative mode becomes extremely anti-mimetic. Lacan argues that through the Oedipal drama the child has to repress its pre-Oedipal attachment to the mother. This alone enables the child to become a speaking subject in the social order. Thus the symbolic is dominated by the imperatives of paternal authority.
The following analysis therefore examines how authority and power are exercised in the novel. Unlike The Trial and The Castle which are set in predominantly imagi- nary landscapes, The Man who Disappeared presents itself at first sight as a piece of realist writing. This apparent realistic tendency was further underlined when Max Brod published it in as Amerika.
In so doing he unwittingly contradicted what Kafka had written to Felice Bauer: Since Kafka subscribed to this journal and owned a copy of the book edition, his debt to Holitscher has been given considerable scholarly attention. Thematic links are numerous. Among these are the depiction of unemployment, the critique of the working conditions of industrial labourers and the sheer scale of American life.
Holitscher emphasises the social consequences of rapid technological change. American society in his account can be analysed rationally and, con- sequently, reformed. His largely socialist perspective acts as a conceptual fil- ter that allows him to interpret what he sees coherently.
It is therefore not surprising that he uses a stable register which maps out the physical and social environment confidently. According to this paradigm, travel, with its pitfalls, dangers and challenges, ultimately allows the self to expe- rience a process of growth. Kafka diverges from this by expelling his hero from home, thus indicating his lack of traditional free will.
From the outset his journey consists of repeated acts of punishment which take him down the social scale. Uncle Jakob is the first in a series of male characters who rely on mech- anisms of exclusion to form their own power-driven sense of identity. Ex- pelling Karl from his care, he is not at all concerned with the total mis- match between the alleged misdemeanour and his harsh punishment, which casts the now impoverished Karl back to the bottom of the heap.
The same scenario is re-enacted when Karl first finds and then loses employment in the Hotel Occidental. Here it is the maternal figure of the Head Cook, the Viennese Grete Mitzelbach, who adopts him by offering him food, accommo- dation, and a job as lift-boy. However, the interrogation scene in chapter 6 shows that her maternal impulse to protect him is severely hampered by the paternal authority of the Head Waiter who, like Uncle Jakob, exercises his right to punish Karl severely for a relatively minor transgression.
Enslaved in a seedy world of sado-masochism, he now seems to have plunged to the lowest so- cial depths. In The Man who Disappeared, the suspension of intimacy between self and world, one of the hallmarks of travel writing, only points to the fragility and instability of subjectivity in a largely unreadable and hostile modern environment. One of the most powerful images of his sense of dislocation is his suitcase which he abandons on the first page in order to search for his um- brella. At the end of the chapter we see Karl leave with his rich uncle who has the means to offer him a brilliant career.
Mister Green then hands it to him along with his umbrella and a third-class train-ticket to San Francisco. When Karl examines the contents of his suitcase he is afraid that the most precious items might well have disappeared. Initially he is shocked at the great disorder of his belongings, but finds on closer inspection that none of his things has gone missing. All his clothes are there, his money, passport, and his watch, even a Veronese salami that was packed by his mother, as well as a bible, writing paper, and one photograph of his parents.
The suitcase now seems to evoke a sense of a caring order that is associated with his parents. However, this impression is deceptive, as a close-up examination of some of the contents will reveal. From a logical viewpoint absence and presence are clearly defined through a relation of mutual exclusion. As long as we read about him he has not gone miss- ing. However, on the other hand, this presence is always predicated upon a significant absence, a pervasive lack for which the suitcase is a powerful image.
It attests to his name as well as to his place and date of birth. It should also contain the visa which gives the immigrant official entry rights and entitles him to work and to settle down.
The reader first comes across the passport in chapter 1: Thus he usually delegates the act of introducing himself to an official document. His reluctance to utter his own name is a first hint of his lack of a proper self. The implication here is that his parents dispatched him to the United States without a proper visa.
From the very beginning he is thus an unwelcome outsider with neither a stable identity nor secure rights. In the words of Susan Sontag: While on one level the family photograph authenticates the togeth- erness of this particular family at that particular place and time, on a second level it does just the opposite.
Presence once more denotes absence. The photograph follows the formal convention of showing the pater familias standing with one arm draped on the back of an armchair and the other on an illustrated book.
Two iconographic details can be observed in this description: Certain of the secret feelings of his mother in the photograph, Karl is overwhelmed by the desire to kiss her dangling hand. His sense of confusion is given grammatical expression in one long sentence whose subclauses lead the reader and the protagonist into dead ends, up and down short staircases, to branching off corridors, until both parties are totally lost.
In their perpetual movement, these reflect a restlessness which, according to the narrative voice, has been transferred from the sea onto human beings and their works. From morning to evening and in the dreams of the night there was a constant stream of traffic on that street which, seen from above, looked like a forever re- starting, inextricable mixture of distorted human figures and rooves of all kinds of vehicles, giving rise to another new mixture, multiplied and wilder, of noise, dust and smells; and all this was enveloped and penetrated by the powerful light which, time and again, was dispersed, carried away and strongly reproduced by a multitude of objects, and which appeared to the dazzled eye so physical as if a glass roof stretching across the street were being smashed into pieces at every moment.
Instead it disperses the boundaries of the objects until the human eye is completely dazzled. This departure from the stable register of naturalism is characteristic of many texts of this period which explore the city as a space of a newly de- personalised perception. What a crush and a crowd, what rattlings and patterings! What shoutings, whizzings, and hummings! And everything so tightly penned in. Right up close to the wheels of cars people are walking, children, girls, men, and elegant women; old men and cripples and people with bandaged heads, one sees all these in the crowd.
And always fresh bevies of people and vehicles. The coaches of the electric trolleys look like boxfuls of figures. The buses go galumphing past like clumsy great beetles. Unlike metaphor, which substitutes one expres- sion for another on the basis of similarity, metonymy takes a characteristic or attribute and substitutes it for the whole. This metonymic evocation of the metropolis has a striking effect: By its very nature contiguity disrespects the hi- erarchical boundaries of the established social order.
This danger is clearly perceived by Uncle Jakob who, in a long speech, emphasises the importance of good judgement and explicitly warns Karl not to spend his days on the balcony looking down at the bustle of the city.
Like Walser and Kafka, Roth describes this moment as one in which the individual is totally overcome by a blend of sensual impressions which he can no longer decode.
While Kafka and Walser emphasise the vi- sual and audible, Roth concentrates more on the olfactory sense by evoking the smell of melting tarmac, dust, the stench of sewers, petrol fumes, and fish halls, all of which melt into a hot vapour that overpowers the hero completely. Although Roth and Kafka are very different writers, they both dramatise the total collapse of boundaries as the principal reason their central figures are no longer able to make sense of their environment.
In all three novels the metropolis of New York is characterised as a space which de-familiarises all kinship relations. Von Gunten deliberately disowns his aristocratic family background in search of an energy which is associated with the city.
But this denial also characterises Karl him- self who, in chapter 1, is emotionally quite unaffected by the disclosure that the influential Senator is his uncle.
Significantly, chapter 1 finishes with him doubting whether this man would ever be able to replace the Stoker in his affections. This latent rejection of kinship is reciprocated by Uncle Jakob himself when he expels Karl. In the second chapter the failure to recognise kinship is projected onto the vast space of the metropolis where humans appear disfigured. Finally, Karl encounters another labyrinth when, after his dismissal from the Hotel Occidental, Delamarche drags him through the interconnecting corridors and courtyards of a working-class apartment block.
The labyrinth is thus characterised by a fundamental ambiva- lence: Here he loses all sense of alienation and the feeling that he is on the uncertain boards of a ship, beside the coast of an unknown continent. The immediacy with which he adopts this role suggests that he identifies with the Stoker and if this is so, there are two reasons for it: The Stoker is an example of the phobic psyche which at- tempts to maintain its fragile boundaries through mechanisms of exclusion.
It is for this reason that the only sense of identity which is available to him depends on the jingoistic notion of a shared Germanness. The experience of reality as labyrinth always points to the physical, perceptual, and psychological disorientation suffered by a self that has gone astray, or a maze-walker who cannot assimilate an envi- ronment which only heightens his disorientation.
Although the effects of in- dustrialisation and urbanisation undoubtedly reinforce his dislocation, they are not, contrary to the claims of some critics, the ultimate cause of the loss of identity in the novel. Kafka explores more than social change, he deals with the underlying mechanisms of the symbolic order as such. The symbolic order is thus founded on the phallic power of the father and the repression of desire for the mother. For Lacan, the Oedipus Complex and the paternal metaphor also explain the centrality of language in the social con- struction of subjectivity.
Without this, he argues, the child would not have access to a stable identity. Lacan thus views the symbolic order as a sys- tem based in language whose primary signifier is the sign of the father, the phallus.
In other words: Like no other modernist writer Kafka is concerned with the symbolic threats on which the symbolic order is erected. Hurling an apple at Gregor, the father wounds him in the back and contributes to his demise. In neither story does the ageing father-figure accept his son as rightful heir. Throughout the novel the male representatives of power perceive him as a threat to a social fab- ric which relies exclusively on the law of the father for regulating social interchange.
Viewed from a psychoanalytic angle, The Man who Disappeared can thus be read as a story of non-assimilation in which the social rites of expulsion and rejection are repeatedly enacted in order to protect the power of the symbolic father.
Again this can be demonstrated with reference to chapter 1. Unlike the Stoker, whose ability to represent himself linguistically is clearly limited, Karl is the master of his language. However, by moving from the general to the specific and employing subordinate clauses as well as modal verbs and the subjunctive, he also manages to demonstrate his allegiance to a rhetoric of rationality which governs the norms of social interaction.And if the author, sentence by sentence seeking after the truth, fails to arrive, how should the critic?
All his clothes are there, his money, passport, and his watch, even a Veronese salami that was packed by his mother, as well as a bible, writing paper, and one photograph of his parents. It is little wonder that identity and cultural dislocation, gender and politics feature so strongly in many of the chapters to follow in the Companion. These can be found in Kafka's diaries , notebooks and letters. It was not very deep. She is the author of The Sexual Circus: Several fables, parables and philosophical pieces are not included in this collection, as they were never meant to be independent stories or never intended for publication.
The Italian fits the stereotype of the perfect dandy-flaneur.
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