Kafka: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Franz Kafka is among the most intriguing and influential writers of the last century. During his lifetime he worked as a civil servant and published only a handful of short stories, the best known being The Transformation. His other three novels, published after his death, helped to found his reputation as a uniquely perceptive interpreter of the twentieth century.
Discussing both Kafka's crisis-ridden life and the subtleties of his art, Ritchie Robertson provides an intriguing and accessible look at the life of this fascinating author. Using Metamorphosis as a recurring example, Robertson shows how Kafka's work explores such characteristically modern themes as the place of the body in culture, the power of institutions over people, and the possibility of religion after Nietzsche had proclaimed "the death of God."
by two celluloid balls that persist in bouncing. In order to get some sleep, Blumfeld has to trap them in his wardrobe. Although the story is incomplete, one can discern some connection between the two balls and the two irrepressible clerks in 44 Blumfeld’s ofﬁce who keep larking about despite his scowls. In all these cases, humour comes from the reluctance of the main character to admit something alien into his life. 45 Reading Kafka A related type of humour comes from a change of
The Genealogy of Morals, ‘life operates essentially – that is, in terms of its basic functions – through injury, violation, exploitation, and destruction, and cannot be conceived in any other way’. Gregor’s family too can be violent and coercive when their interests are threatened. Once Gregor is dead, his father ejects the lodgers from the family ﬂat, and as the lodgers trail down the 58 stairs, up comes a butcher’s boy carrying a tray of meat – the antithesis to the starved Gregor. The guards
the concept, however, justiﬁcation does not come from an external source. It comes from man’s own work in the world. Man does not consciously seek justiﬁcation: That it appears as though he were working to feed and clothe himself, etc., does not matter; for with every visible mouthful he also receives an invisible one, with every visible dress he also receives an invisible dress. That is everybody’s justiﬁcation. A person who concentrates on working to support himself and his family is already
Morals 36, 58, 108 The Joyful Wisdom 104–5, 106 Thus Spoke Zarathustra 47–8, 93 W Wolff, Kurt (publisher) 24 women’s emancipation 97–9 Walser, Robert 21 Weber, Max 84–6 Weekley, Frieda 70 Werfel, Franz 17, 23 Wohryzek, Julie 2, 16 Y Yeats, W.B. 104 Z Kafka Zionism 16, 96, 115 136
of stories that peter out after a page or less, and of lamentations and self-reproaches at his inability to write. Only occasionally did he manage to write successfully and without conscious effort. The greatest such occasion was the night of 22–23 September 1912, when from 10.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m. he sat at his desk writing The Judgement in a single sitting. ‘That is the only way to write,’ he told his diary next day, ‘only with such coherence, with such complete opening of body and soul.’ This