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Collected Stories of Franz Kafka: Introduction by Gabriel Josipovici (Everyman's Library Contemporary Classics Series)

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(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)Franz Kafka’s imagination so far outstripped the forms and conventions of the literary tradition he inherited that he was forced to turn that tradition inside out in order to tell his splendid, mysterious tales. Scrupulously naturalistic on the surface, uncanny in their depths, these stories represent the achieved art of a modern master who ha (Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)Franz Kafka’s imagination so far outstripped the forms and conventions of the literary tradition he inherited that he was forced to turn that tradition inside out in order to tell his splendid, mysterious tales. Scrupulously naturalistic on the surface, uncanny in their depths, these stories represent the achieved art of a modern master who had the gift of making our problematic spiritual life palpable and real.This edition of his stories includes all his available shorter fiction in a collection edited, arranged, and introduced by Gabriel Josipovici in ways that bring out the writer’s extraordinary range and intensity of vision.Translated by Willa and Edwin Muir


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(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)Franz Kafka’s imagination so far outstripped the forms and conventions of the literary tradition he inherited that he was forced to turn that tradition inside out in order to tell his splendid, mysterious tales. Scrupulously naturalistic on the surface, uncanny in their depths, these stories represent the achieved art of a modern master who ha (Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)Franz Kafka’s imagination so far outstripped the forms and conventions of the literary tradition he inherited that he was forced to turn that tradition inside out in order to tell his splendid, mysterious tales. Scrupulously naturalistic on the surface, uncanny in their depths, these stories represent the achieved art of a modern master who had the gift of making our problematic spiritual life palpable and real.This edition of his stories includes all his available shorter fiction in a collection edited, arranged, and introduced by Gabriel Josipovici in ways that bring out the writer’s extraordinary range and intensity of vision.Translated by Willa and Edwin Muir

30 review for Collected Stories of Franz Kafka: Introduction by Gabriel Josipovici (Everyman's Library Contemporary Classics Series)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Sämtliche Erzählungen = The Complete Short Stories = Collected Stories, Franz Kafka This volume contains all of Kafka's shorter fiction, from fragments, parables and sketches to longer tales. Together they reveal the breadth of Kafka's literary vision and the extraordinary imaginative depth of his thought. Some are well-known, others are mere jottings, observations of daily life, given artistic form through Kafka's unique perception of the world. تاریخ نخستین خوانش این نسخه: بیست و سوم ژوئن سال 2 Sämtliche Erzählungen = The Complete Short Stories = Collected Stories, Franz Kafka This volume contains all of Kafka's shorter fiction, from fragments, parables and sketches to longer tales. Together they reveal the breadth of Kafka's literary vision and the extraordinary imaginative depth of his thought. Some are well-known, others are mere jottings, observations of daily life, given artistic form through Kafka's unique perception of the world. تاریخ نخستین خوانش این نسخه: بیست و سوم ژوئن سال 2000 میلادی عنوان: مجموعه داستانها؛ نویسنده: فرانتس کافکا؛ مترجم: امیر جلال الدین اعلم؛ تهران، نیلوفر، 1378، در 547ص، چاپ دوم 1381؛ چاپ چهارم سال1386؛ چاپ پنجم 1388؛ شابک 9789644481253؛ موضوع: داستانهای کوتاه از نویسندگان آلمان - سده 20م فهرست: دو تمثیل آغازین: جلوی قانون؛ پیام امپراتور؛ داستانهای بلند (هجده مورد): «وصف یک پیکار؛ تدارک عروسی در روستا؛ داوری؛ مسخ؛ کیفرگاه؛ آموزگار دهکده (موش کور غول پیکر)؛ بلومفیل پیرپسر؛ نگهبان گور؛ پزشک دهکده؛ گراکوس شکارگر؛ گراکوس شکارگر یک پاره نوشته؛ گزارشی به فرهنگستان؛ گزارشی به فرهنگستان دو پاره نوشته؛ امتناع؛ هنرمند گرسنگی؛ زَنَک؛ نقب؛ یوزفینه آوازخوان یا مردمِ موش»؛ داستانهای کوتاه (پنجاه و پنج مورد): کودکان بر جاده روستایی؛ نقاب برداشتن از چهره یک کلاهبردار؛ گردش ناگهانی؛ تصمیمها؛ گشت و گذار در کوهسار؛ بداقبالی مرد عزب؛ کاسب؛ نگاهی پرت از پنجره؛ راه خانه؛ رهگذران؛ سوار بر تراموا؛ لباسها؛ وازدن؛ تاملاتی برای آقایان سوارکار؛ پنجره رو به خیابان؛ آرزوی سرخپوست بودن؛ درختها، اندوه، خواب؛ در جایگاه بالایی سیرک؛ برادرکشی؛ دهکده ی بعدی؛ دیدار از معدن؛ شغالها و عربها؛ پل؛ سطل سوار؛ وکیل مدافع جدیدی؛ نوشته ای کهن؛ کوبه ای بر در سرای اربابی؛ یازده پسر؛ همسایه ام؛ حیوان دو رگه؛ دغدغه های مرد خانواده؛ آشوب معمولی؛ حقیقت راجع به سانچو پانسا؛ خاموشی سیرن ها؛ پرومتئوس؛ نشان شهر؛ پوسیدون؛ دوستی؛ شبانگاه؛ مسئله قوانینمان؛ سربازگیری؛ آزمون؛ کرکس؛ سکاندار؛ فرفره؛ افسانه ای کوچک؛ بازگشت به خانه؛ نخستین اندوه؛ عزیمت؛ وکلای مدافع؛ زن و شوهر؛ ولش کن؛ در باره تمثیل؛ و گاهشمار زندگی فرانتس کافکا آلبرکامو مینویسند: «آثار فرانتس کافکا ‌بایستی بارها خوانده شوند»، کتاب‌های «کافکا» را می‌شود همه جور تفسیر کرد؛ آنچه بیشتر به دل مینشیند، دیگر اینکه این آثار ماهیت سمبولیک دارند؛ همه جا ترس و وحشت خود را مینمایانند، داستانهای نویسنده ای مدرن، که اینروزها دیگر به جمع کلاسیک ها پیوسته اند»؛ پایان نقل تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 11/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 30/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Sämtliche Erzählungen = The Complete Short Stories = Collected Stories, Franz Kafka This volume contains all of Kafka's shorter fiction, from fragments, parables and sketches to longer tales. Together they reveal the breadth of Kafka's literary vision and the extraordinary imaginative depth of his thought. Some are well-known, others are mere jottings, observations of daily life, given artistic form through Kafka's unique perception of the world. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ژانویه سال2002میلادی عنوان: داست Sämtliche Erzählungen = The Complete Short Stories = Collected Stories, Franz Kafka This volume contains all of Kafka's shorter fiction, from fragments, parables and sketches to longer tales. Together they reveal the breadth of Kafka's literary vision and the extraordinary imaginative depth of his thought. Some are well-known, others are mere jottings, observations of daily life, given artistic form through Kafka's unique perception of the world. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ژانویه سال2002میلادی عنوان: داستان های کوتاه کافکا؛ نویسنده: فرانتس کافکا؛ مترجم: علی اصغر حداد؛ تهران، ماهی، سال1384، در650ص، مصور؛ شابک9647948735؛ چاپ دوم سال1385؛ چاپ سوم سال1388؛ چاپ پنجم سال1392؛ شابک9789647948739؛ موضوع: داستانهای کوتاه از نویسندگان آلمان - سده 20م فهرست داستانها: تاملات؛ بچه ها در جاده روستائی؛ افشای یک مرد رند، گردش ناگهانی، تصمیم، گشت و گذار در کوهستان، شوربختی یک مرد مجرد، بازرگان، نگاهی سرسری به بیرون، راه خانه، رهگذران، مسافر، لباسها، دست رد، توصیه به آقایان سوارکار، پنجره رو به خیابان، آرزوی سرخپوست شدن، درختها، تیره روزی، حکم؛ آتش انداز؛ مسخ؛ در سرزمین محکومان؛ پزشک دهکده؛ در گالری؛ نوشته ای کهن؛ جلوی قانون؛ شغالها و عربها؛ بازدید از معدن؛ دهکده مجاور؛ پیام امپراتوری؛ نگرانی پدر خانواده؛ یازده پسر؛ برادر کشی؛ خواب؛ گزارشی برای فرهنگستان؛ هنرمند گرسنگی؛ یوزفینه ی آوازه خوان، جماعت موشها؛ سر و صدای بسیار؛ لاوک سوار؛ شرح یک نبرد؛ شرح یک عروسی در روستا؛ آموزگار دهکده؛ بلومفلد عزب مجرد؛ پل؛ گراکوس شکارچی؛ دیوار چین؛ مشت به دروازه قصر؛ همسایه؛ حیوانی با دو نژاد؛ اختلالی هرروزه؛ حقیقت در باره سانچوپانزا؛ سکوت سیرن ها؛ پرومته؛ ناخدا؛ بیرون شهر؛ پوسئیدون؛ اتحاد؛ شباهنگام؛ امتناع؛ در چند و چون قوانین؛ سربازگیری؛ آزمون؛ لاشخور؛ سکاندار؛ فرفره؛ حکایتی کوتاه؛ بازگشت؛ عزیمت؛ حامی؛ پژوهشهای یک سگ؛ زن و شوهر؛ از جستجو بگذر؛ درباره ی تمثیل ها؛ لانه؛ خبر ساخت دیوار؛ یک پاره نوشته؛ بهشت؛ برج بابل؛ گودال بابل؛ ابراهیم؛ کوه سینا؛ ساخت معبد؛ حیوان کنیسه؛ نگهبان؛ سیرنها؛ آمدن مسیح؛ پلنگها در معبد؛ اسکندر کبیر؛ دیوگنس؛ ساخت شهر؛ سرهنگ امپراتوری؛ امپراتور؛ در کاروانسرا؛ سلول؛ اختراع شیطان؛ وحشی ها؛ گراکوس شکارچی یک پاره نوشته؛ اژدهای سبز؛ ببر؛ پیک ها؛ اسباب بازی؛ رابینسون کروزو؛ چشمه؛ سیری ناپذیرترینها؛ و پیوستها: شمشیر؛ پارالیپومنا؛ او؛ مهمان مردگان؛ خار بوته؛ سالشمار زندگی؛ آلبوم عکس؛ و ...؛ تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 11/10/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 29/09/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ben Winch

    The idea that there exists such thing as a “must read” book is one of the great fallacies diluting literature. To judge a reader unfavourably because a certain book is not on his or her shelf, rather than to praise and learn from the idiosyncratic choices to be found there instead, is to wish for a literature of bland homogeneity. To label a book “must read” is to condemn it to being misunderstood. And when that book is by the strange, reclusive, haunted black-humourist Franz Kafka, and is given The idea that there exists such thing as a “must read” book is one of the great fallacies diluting literature. To judge a reader unfavourably because a certain book is not on his or her shelf, rather than to praise and learn from the idiosyncratic choices to be found there instead, is to wish for a literature of bland homogeneity. To label a book “must read” is to condemn it to being misunderstood. And when that book is by the strange, reclusive, haunted black-humourist Franz Kafka, and is given to students to pour over with grave seriousness for hints of political allegory or prophecy, the misunderstanding is so pronounced as to be, in itself, “Kafkaesque”. All those young heads bowed over Metamorphosis, trying their damnedest to see in this giant bug the wisdom of the sage, when the sage himself must surely have been shaking his own head in disbelief at the balls-out irreverence of it, maybe even wondering, “Is it too ridiculous?” It’s as if some high official had ordained that a sacred text be read and reported on by all those seeking admission to the Castle, but when the applicants receive that text they find in it the trivial rantings of a madman. So, desperately, unwilling to crack a smile lest the Castle feel itself mocked, they eke out some tenuous thread of analysis and miss the sacredness, AKA the humour. In speaking of Kafka, Milan Kundera quotes Czech poet Jan Skacel: Poets don’t invent poems The poem is somewhere behind It’s been there for a long time The poet merely discovers it He goes on to say: Indeed, if instead of seeking “the poem” hidden “somewhere behind” the poet “engages” himself to the service of a truth known from the outset... he has renounced the mission of poetry. And it matters little whether the preconceived truth is called revolution or dissidence, Christian faith or atheism, whether it is more justified or less justified; a poet who serves any truth other than the truth to be discovered (which is dazzlement) is a false poet. At his best, Franz Kafka served this “truth to be discovered”, this “dazzlement”, as devoutly as any writer I know of. This is his legacy: freedom. Or what Kundera calls “radical autonomy”. When occasionally, to the delight of the scholars, he bogs himself down in allegory (“In the Penal Colony”, “Investigations of a Dog”, to some extent “A Hunger Artist”), he fritters away his gift on grand ideals. But when in a moment of sheer wilful abandon his imagination takes over and propels him – like the country doctor unable to control his horses – into the unknown, he is unassailable. “A Country Doctor” is five of the most kaleidoscopic and dizzying pages in history: the horses’ faces lolling like cardboard cutouts in the bedroom window at the end are Kafka’s own rebellious muses laughing at him as he curls up in bed with his wound. His Hunter Gracchus is a journeyer from beyond, washed up by mistake in the quotidian world. “The Knock at the Manor Gate”, “The Test”, “The Helmsman” – everywhere there are things in flux on either side of the boundary of dreams. Unfinished stories abound, because Kafka does not do “finished”. Even the near-perfect Metamorphosis ends with a non-ending, and frequently his neatest stories are his most facile. Kafka’s gift is an inspired one, and inspiration, as we know, doesn’t necessarily wait around while we add the finishing touches. These fragments are seeds, or bombs, and their author a wily rebel possessed by the Imp of the Perverse, unsure himself whether he is a gardener or a terrorist. Just, whatever you do, don’t “study” them. Live these stories or leave them alone. More dead readings will only clutter our view of them. Fact: Kafka is funny. Fact: He’s not for everyone. Fact: He writes to the dictates of his heart, not to preach politics or predict the future. And if you don’t get him, no-one but the most pretentious snob is going to judge you for it. There are no “must read” books. “The Vulture” A vulture was hacking at my feet. It had already torn my boots and stockings to shreds, now it was hacking at the feet themselves. Again and again it struck at them, then circled several times restlessly around me, then returned to continue its work. A gentleman passed by, looked on for a while, then asked me why I suffered the vulture. “I’m helpless,” I said. “When it came and began to attack me, I of course tried to drive it away, even to strangle it, but these animals are very strong, it was about to spring at my face, but I preferred to sacrifice my feet. Now they are almost torn to bits.” “Fancy letting yourself be tortured like this,” said the gentleman, “I’ve only got to go home and get my gun. Could you wait another half-hour?” “I’m not sure about that,” said I, and stood for a moment rigid with pain. Then I said, “Do try it in any case, please.” “Very well,” said the gentleman, “I’ll be as quick as I can.” During this conversation the vulture had been calmly listening, letting its eye rove between me and the gentleman. Now I realized that it had understood everything; it took wing, leaning far back to gain impetus, and then, like a javelin thrower, thrust its beak through my mouth, deep into me. Falling back, I was relieved to feel him drowning irretrievably in my blood, which was filling every depth, flooding every shore.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    “Around me things sink away like fallen snow, whereas for other people even a little liqueur glass stands on the table steady as a statue.” 4.5 stars. There are stories in this collection (and these were by far my favorite kind) that clutch and fumble and scrabble across the surface of your mind, entities so eerily misshapen and askew that you don’t want to let them in. Grimacing and winking, they slither in anyway. Before you know it, everything you thought solid and real begins to fall away “Around me things sink away like fallen snow, whereas for other people even a little liqueur glass stands on the table steady as a statue.” 4.5 stars. There are stories in this collection (and these were by far my favorite kind) that clutch and fumble and scrabble across the surface of your mind, entities so eerily misshapen and askew that you don’t want to let them in. Grimacing and winking, they slither in anyway. Before you know it, everything you thought solid and real begins to fall away. Reality recedes with a measured, merciless tread. Its deliberate pace only intensifies your sense of dread. You feel horribly lost and unnerved, yet the world continues to retreat, indifferent to your mounting distress. Your cries are in vain. It does not falter. You wind up adrift in a realm of blurred, hazy, surreal confusion. Left to fend for yourself, you experience a strange “seasickness on land” as you travel deeper into bizarre, uncertain terrain. You finally lose your bearings entirely; disorientation swallows you whole. And then, just when you’ve given up hope that anything will ever make sense again, it hits you: reality didn’t leave you behind at all, it merely sloughed off the thin veneer of coherence we tend to obscure it with. Kafka dexterously peeled back this façade, stripping away our familiar, comforting lies and deceptions; they’re scattered pitifully over the floor, where their glaring inadequacy is impossible to deny. They are futile, meager, and ridiculous, and yet also heartbreakingly, endearingly human.                                                             . Not only did Kafka reveal many of the ways we distort the world around us, he also had quite a bit of fun examining ways in which we contort our very selves. We bend back on ourselves in our desperate attempts to force our baffling existence to have some sort of ultimate meaning. We scuttle along deformed, wracked with denial and guilt, smiling vacantly, expectantly. Far too frequently, these inner and outer contortions are also how we manage to fit in with our fellow human beings: “It occurred to me that perhaps my long body displeased him by making him feel too small. And this thought—although it was late at night and we had hardly met a soul—tormented me so much that while walking I bent my back until my hands reached my knees.” Sometimes, in our efforts to connect with others, we’re even forced to resort to hideous, “painful contortions, such as steps or words.” (Good god, he fucking gets it.)                                                             . The really brilliant thing about Kafka is that, more often than not, after experiencing all this nightmarish absurdity, one ends up laughing right along with him at the underlying insanity of it all. His mischievous agility, unpredictable playfulness, and delightfully skewed impressions tinge many of these tales with a surprising amount of satisfyingly dark humor. And, after all, isn’t a wicked sense of humor one of the best ways to deal with the exasperating inscrutability we often come up against in this crazy, mixed up world?                                                             . Overall, reading Kafka kind of feels like taking a trip along a Möbius strip. You seem to fade in and out of reality. You start off walking on the floor, and then suddenly, you’re certain you’re lurching across the ceiling. Möbius strips, however, are ingeniously twisted; they actually only have one side. Strictly speaking, there is no up or down, in or out. So too with Kafka: you feel off-balance, bewildered and queasy by the crumpled deformities you encounter as you travel through a gnarled, grotesque landscape, but there’s something strangely familiar underneath it all, something you can’t quite put your finger on. Then you end up exactly where you began, and you finally understand your journey. You realize that you haven’t been going in and out of reality, but that reality has instead been presented in a disturbingly crooked, yet somehow far more truthful, manner. Momentarily freed from your habitual defenses, you catch a glimpse of the elusive face of the world as it is. Welcome home.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Florencia

    I think it's a little mistake to judge Kafka considering only "The Metamorphosis". There's a whole different view on things in some of his stories. You're not going to find a nice, warm, fuzzy, Care Bear kind of book (that line made sense in my mind). But some of his stories do show another side of him. I personally like the psychological twisted, complicated, claustrophobic and absurd ones with a weird sense of humor (yes, he can be funny) and infinite interpretations. But that's just me. I like I think it's a little mistake to judge Kafka considering only "The Metamorphosis". There's a whole different view on things in some of his stories. You're not going to find a nice, warm, fuzzy, Care Bear kind of book (that line made sense in my mind). But some of his stories do show another side of him. I personally like the psychological twisted, complicated, claustrophobic and absurd ones with a weird sense of humor (yes, he can be funny) and infinite interpretations. But that's just me. I liked most of his stories, a few names come to mind (I don't know why and in no specific order): “A Hunger Artist”, a disturbing yet beautiful story about an alienated artist; “In the Penal Colony”; “Eleven sons” and its poetic descriptions; “A dream” (loved its disquieting atmosphere --is that making sense?); “The Great Wall of China”; “A Report to an Academy” (fresh air); “The Problem of Our Laws” that gives you a feeling of despair, because you find yourself being governed by people (noble people) you'll never meet with their rules that you're not supposed to understand; “A Fratricide” (kind of shocked me); "The Cares of a Family Man", short stories like that leave you thinking about what the heck he was writing about. Kafka is a complicated writer, that's true. But the difficult ones often help you to see ordinary things from another perspective. And yes, that's not always sunshine and rainbows, but that's the other inevitable side of life. He mostly described awful, absurd, stressful, weird and confusing situations that human beings experience on daily basis. Sadly, I can relate to his labyrinths of endless bureaucracy. A lot. This writer is not for everyone. And there's nothing wrong with that. In my humble opinion, he was a man who was able to write, among many other things, something like “Before the Law” (a parable that appears in one of my favorites novels); such a familiar feeling. So my connection with him was instantaneous. (It's a shame that mostly happens with people that died a couple or hundreds of years ago. No Lake House around here, huh? God, I hated that movie.) Anyway, “Before the Law” is a short and great example of one of the many sides a Kafkaesque universe has. Feb 23, 14 * Also on my blog.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Το Άθχημο γατί του θενιόρ Γκουαναμίρου

    There is a book written by Max Brod in 1928, four years after Kafka's death, titled Zauberreich Der Liebe (The Kingdom of Love /The Magic Realm of Love) its main character inspired after Kafka. I would be interested in reading it, if I could find the English translation somewhere. This book was rejected by Walter Benjamin with arguments that make no sense, in a letter to Gerhard Scholem, Paris, June 12, 1938. I do not know by what logic Walter Benjamin considers himself a connoisseur of Kafka's There is a book written by Max Brod in 1928, four years after Kafka's death, titled Zauberreich Der Liebe (The Kingdom of Love /The Magic Realm of Love) its main character inspired after Kafka. I would be interested in reading it, if I could find the English translation somewhere. This book was rejected by Walter Benjamin with arguments that make no sense, in a letter to Gerhard Scholem, Paris, June 12, 1938. I do not know by what logic Walter Benjamin considers himself a connoisseur of Kafka's work, he goes so far as to reject Brod's biography about Kafka (Franz Kafka, eine Biographie, 1937). I don't know if opinions like these are the reason why Max Brod's work has fallen into obscurity. I find this rather frustrating because it poses an obstacle to the understanding of Kafka's work. And nobody seems to care. Max Brod and Franz Kafka are like Damon and Phintias. How can we understand the one apart from the other? These two were writing together, reading together, living together. They inspired each other. They were helping each other. Kafka was reading Max Brod. He writes Das Urteil and among his influences mentions Max Brod's novel Arnold Beer: The Fate of a Jew / Arnold Beer: Das Schicksal eines Juden). It seems to me that there is a sort of mistrust, even hostility against Brod's handling of his friend's intellectual heritage. But we would not have this heritage, to begin with, if Brod hadn't preserved it. Where is Brod's work today? It has fallen into obscurity. In this edition of Kafka's collected stories the ones that are marked with an asterisk (*) were published during Kafka’s lifetime. The rest, we owe them to Brod. Οι αναφορές από τα ημερολόγια του Kafka είναι από τις εκδόσεις Εξάντας, 1998 σε μεταφραση της Αγγέλας Βερυκοκάκη. 1. Before the law (Vor dem Gesetz) Μπροστά στο Νόμο: Κυκλοφόρησε ως ανεξάρτητο διήγημα (στη συλλογή Ein Landarzt, Ένας αγροτικός γιατρός, στα 1919) και τελικά ενσωματώθηκε ως παραβολή στο μυθιστόρημα "Η δίκη". Μια σύντομη ιστορία (παραβολή) για το προσωπικό Άδυτο των Αδύτων του κάθε ανθρώπου. Έίναι εκείνο το μέρος του εαυτού μας που ενώ προορίζεται για εμάς, αποτελεί μέρος μας, ωστόσο δεν μπορούμε να εισέλθουμε σε αυτό, δεν μπορούμε ούτε να τον γνωρίσουμε ούτε να το κατανοήσουμε. 2. A Message from the Emperor (Eine kaiserliche Botschaf) Ένα μήνυμα από τον Αυτοκράτορα: Μια σύντομη παραβολή όπου δημοσιεύτηκε αρχικά ανεξάρτητα στη συλλογή "Ένας επαρχιακός γιατρός" κι έπειτα ενσωματώθηκε στο έργο με τίτλο: "Το Μεγάλο Τείχος της Κίνας". Ο απεσταλμένος του Αυτοκράτορα πρέπει να μεταφέρει σε κάποιον ένα σημαντικό μήνυμα, το οποίο ωστόσο δεν πρόκειται ποτέ να φτάσει στον παραλήπτη του. Ξανά εδώ το μοτίβο αυτού που ποτέ δεν πρόκειται να γνωρίσουμε, ακόμα κι αν είναι κάτι που ανήκει σε εμάς ή προορίζεται για εμάς. 3. Description of a Struggle (Beschreibung eines Kampfes) Περιγραφή μιας πάλης 4. Wedding Preparations in the Country (Hochzeitsvorbereitungen auf dem Lande) Γαμήλιες προετοιμασίες στην εξοχή: Ημιτελές έργο, γραμμένο στα 1907 -8. Μια βροχερή ημέρα ο διστακτικός Eduard Raban φεύγει από το σπίτι του προκειμένου να πάει στον σταθμό του τραίνου κι από εκεί στην εξοχή για να συναντήσει την αρραβωνιαστικιά του. Το μεγαλύτερο μέρος αποτελείται από διαλόγους και συναντήσεις στην πόλη και στο τραίνο, εστιάζει στην κίνηση - μετακίνηση - μεταφορά προς έναν προορισμό την ίδια στιγμή που ο κεντρικός ήρωας εύχεται να μπορούσε να ξεφύγει από όλα αυτά, να στείλει το "ντυμένο σώμα του" κι ο ίδιος να παραμείνει στο υπνοδωμάτιό του, σκεπασμένος με την κιτρινοκαφετιά κουβέρτα του και να μεταμορφωθεί σε Hirschkafer (σκαθάρι) ή Maikafer (Μηλολόνθη). Εδώ όπως και στη Μεταμόρφωση έχουμε την ιδέα της μεταμόρφωσης σε έντομο και υπάρχει η θεωρία πως πηγή έμπνευσής του αποτελεί ένα απόσπασμα από τον Βέρθερο του Goethe στο οποίο αναφέρεται η επιθυμία του να μεταμορφωθεί σε Maienkäfer (μαγιάτικο έντομο, πασχαλίτσα). Το σημείο που φτάνει στο πανδοχείο αλλά κανένας δεν τον υποδέχεται είναι το σημείο στο οποίο σταματάει το πρώτο χειρόγραφο. Στο δεύτερο χειρόγραφο ξαναγράφει μια εκδοχή όπου βρίσκεται ακόμα στην πόλη, περιμένει στο κεφαλόσκαλο του σπιτιού του να κοπάσει η βροχή και συζητάει με έναν ηλικιωμένο άνδρα και μιλάνε για τον καιρό και τα βιβλία. 5. The Judgment (Das Urteil ) Η Κρίση 6. The Metamorphosis ((Die Verwandlung) Η μεταμόρφωση: Αυτήν την ιστορία τη διαβάζω κατά καιρούς από 17 ετών. Δεν ξέρω ποιος είναι πραγματικά περισσότερο άξιος λύπησης. Ο Gregor Samsa ή η οικογένειά του; 7. In the Penal Colony (In der Strafkolonie) Στη σωφρονιστική αποικία/ Στην αποικία των τιμωρημένων 8. The Village Schoolmaster - The Giant Mole (Der Dorfschullehrer -Der Riesenmaulwurf) Ο δάσκαλος του χωριού - Ο γιγάντιος τυφλοπόντικας 9. Blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelor (Blumfeld, ein alterer Junggeselle) Μπλούμφελντ, ένας ηλικιωμένος εργένης. 10. The Warden of the Tomb (Der Gruftwachter) Ο φύλακας του τάφου. 11. A Country Doctor (Ein Landarzt) Ένας αγροτικός γιατρός. 12. The Hunter Gracchus (Der Jäger Gracchus) Ο κυνηγός Γράκχος. 13. The Great Wall of China (Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer) Το μεγάλο Τείχος της Κίνας. 14. A Report to an Academy (Ein Bericht für eine Akademie) Αναφορά σε μια Ακαδημία: Ο πίθηκος με το όνομα Κόκκινος Πέτρος, παρουσιάζει σε μια συνάθροιση επιστημόνων την αλλόκοτη προσωπική ιστορία της εξέλιξής του από ζώο σε ένα πλάσμα με ανθρώπινες ιδιότητες και συμπεριφορά, το οποίο ωστόσο παραμένει εγκλωβισμένο ανάμεσα στους δύο κόσμους, στην ουσία το μόνο που κατάφερε είναι να αντικαταστήσει το αρχικό κλουβί της αιχμαλωσίας του με ένα άλλο πιο ευρύχωρο, για πάντα μόνος και ξένος μέσα στη φυλακή του κόσμου των ανθρώπων. Ένα πλάσμα που ζει ανάμεσα σε δύο κόσμους, σε μια ενδιάμεση κατάσταση. Περιλαμβάνεται στη συλλογή του Αγροτικού Γιατρού, 1919. 15. The Refusal (Die Abweisung) Η απόρριψη: Άλλη μια εκδοχής μιας μικρής επαρχιακής πόλης η οποία είναι κομμάτι μιας αχανούς χώρας, όπου οι αποστάσεις φαίνεται να εκτείνονται στο άπειρο. Μακριά από τα σύνορα, μακριά από την πρωτεύουσα, μακριά από όλους τους άλλους ανθρώπους. Ένας τόπος απομονωμένος που υποκύπτει σε μια παράλογη εξουσία ή οποία συντηρείται από τους εξίσου παράλογους, σχεδόν παιδικούς φόβους των πολιτών. Μόνο οι νέοι φαίνεται να δυσφορούν με την όλη κατάσταση αλλά και αυτοί σύντομα θα μεγαλώσουν και θα απορροφηθούν από το σύστημα. 16. A Hunger Artist (Ein Hungerkünstler) Ο καλλιτέχνης της πείνας: Μια ιστορία που μιλάει για έναν επαγγελματία νηστευτή που εκθέτει τον εαυτό του μέσα σε ένα κλουβί, και αποτελεί πόλο έλξης για τους περίεργους θεατές που πληρώνουν για να τον δουν να σβήνει από την ασιτία. Ωστόσο στο τέλος αποκαλύπτει ο ίδιος τη θλιβερή αιτία που τον κάνει να αρνείται την τροφή: (view spoiler)[Δεν είναι ένας ασκητής από επιλογή, καίτοι εκτελεί με συνέπεια τα καθήκοντά του. Απλώς καμία τροφή δεν του αρέσει. (hide spoiler)] 17. Investigations of a Dog (Forschungen eines Hundes) Έρευνες ενός σκύλου: Υπέροχη ιστορία, γεμάτη σοφία και πικρή ειρωνεία. Όλα σε αυτήν την ιστορία βγάζουν νόημα εάν κάποιος προσθέσει στην αφήγηση αυτό που ο σκύλος και γενικά ο σκυλόκοσμος αδυνατεί να δει. (view spoiler)[Τους ανθρώπους. Τα σκυλιά που στέκονται στα πισινά τους πόδια και χορεύουν στους ήχους της μουσικής του τσίρκου, τα αιωρούμενα σκυλιά που χρησιμεύουν σκύλοι αγκαλιάς, το λαγωνικό και το κυνηγετικό κέρας, η τροφή που λανθασμένα τα σκυλιά αποδίδουν στη γη στην ουσία είναι τα κομμάτια φαγητού που τους δίνουν οι άνθρωποι. Όλα αυτά σε απόλυτη αναλογία με τον κόσμο των ανθρώπων όπου οι άνθρωποι αναζητούν τη γνώση και την αλήθεια η οποία υπάρχει ενώπιόν τους αλλά δεν διαθέτουν την αντιληπτική ικανότητα μιας άμεσης εποπτείας. (hide spoiler)] Η ιστορία γράφτηκε στα 1922 και δεν δημοσιεύτηκε κατά τη διάρκεια της ζωής του καλλιτέχνη. Χαρακτηριστική είναι η αίσθηση της απόλυτης μοναξιάς και απόρριψης που νιώθει ο σκύλος από τους ομοίους του, δεν έχει ταίρι, δεν έχει φίλους, δεν έχει ομοϊδεάτες είναι κι αυτός όπως και τόσα άλλα καφκικά πλάσματα, εγκλωβισμένος ανάμεσα σε δύο κόσμος και γι’ αυτό χαμένος και από τους δυο. 18. A Little Woman (Eine kleine Frau) Μια μικρή γυναίκα: Τον Οκτώβριο - Δεκέμβριου του 1923 ο Kafka ζει με την τελευταία σύντροφο της ζωής του, την Dora Dymant σε μια κατοικία που έχουν νοικιάσει στην οδό Miquelstrasse 8, περιοχή Steglitz του Βερολίνου. Όπως αναφέρει και ο Max Brod (σελ. 580 παρούσας έκδοσης) ο Kafka εμπνεύστηκε αυτήν την ιστορία από τη σπιτονοικοκυρά του, ένα αλλοπρόσαλλο πλάσμα “μια γυναίκα δικαστής που ζει σε κόντρα με τον ίδιο της τον εαυτό, τον οποίο δεν γνωρίζει”. Είναι προφανές πως ένας τέτοιος χαρακτήρας, διχασμένος και διττός δεν θα μπορούσε παρά να εμπνεύσει τον συγγραφέα που με τον δικό του τρόπο αντιμετώπιζε σε όλη του τη ζωή παρόμοιες δυσκολίες αυτοαποδοχής, οπότε το κείμενο καταλήγει να περιέχει και πολλά αυτοαναφορικά στοιχεία, όπως άλλωστε όλα τα έργα του Kafka. 19. The Burrow (Der Bau) Το κτίσμα/ Λαγούμι. 20. Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk (Josefine, die Sängerin oder Das Volk der Mäuse) Η Ζοζεφίνα, η τραγουδίστρια ή ο λαός των ποντικιών. Συλλογή διηγημάτων με γενικό τίτλο: Betrachtung (Διαλογισμοί/ Στοχασμοί). Η συλλογή με γενικό τίτλο "Ένας αγροτικός γιατρός" πέρα από το ομώνυμο διήγημα περιλάμβανε επίσης τα: Der neue Advokat (Ο νέος δικηγόρος), Auf der Galerie (Πάνω στη γαλαρία), Ein altes Blatt (ένα παλιό χειρόγραφο/ Ένα παλιό φύλλο), Vor dem Gesetz (μπροστά στο νόμο), Schakale und Araber (Τσακάλια και Άραβες), Ein Besuch im Bergwerk (Μια επίσκεψη στο ορυχείο), Das nächste Dorf (Το γειτονικό χωριό/Το διπλανό χωριό ), Eine kaiserliche Botschaft (Ένα αυτοκρατορικό μήνυμα), Die Sorge des Hausvaters (Η έγνοια του οικογενειάρχη), Elf Söhne (Έντεκα γιοι), Der Mord / Ein Brudermord (Μια δολοφονία/ αδελφοκτονία), Ein Traum (ένα όνειρο), Ein Bericht für eine Akademie (Αναφορά σε μια Ακαδημία). Από όλες τις ιστορίες μακράν η πιο αγαπημένη μου είναι αυτή με τον Odradek στο Die Sorge des Hausvaters (Η έγνοια του οικογενειάρχη). Από που είναι αυτό το πλάσμα, τι σημαίνει το όνομά του; Υπάρχουν διάφορες θεωρίες για τη σημασία του ονόματός του, καθώς η λέξη καθεαυτή είναι επινοημένη (βλέπε Werner Hamacher, Premises: Essays on Philosophy and Literature from Kant to Celan σελ. 321). Κάποιοι θεωρούν πως είναι ίσως ένα σπασμένο παιχνίδι, ένα απομεινάρι μαριονέτας (βλέπε Massimo Fusillo, The Fetish: Literature, Cinema, Visual Art, σελ. 73). Η θεωρία μου είναι πως προέρχεται από το την τσέχικη φράση od řádek και σημαίνει "από τη γραμμή". Πχ οι Τσέχοι λένε od řádek v knize από τις γραμμές του βιβλίου. Κυριολεκτικά είναι ένα ον που υπάρχει μόνο μέσα στις γραμμές, τις σειρές των σελίδων ενός βιβλίου. Η τελευταία συλλογή διηγημάτων του Kafka υπό τον γενικό τίτλο Ein Hungerkünstler (Ο καλλιτέχνης της πείνας), εκδόθηκε από τον εκδοτικό Verlag Die Schmiede, στα 1924, λίγους μήνες μετά τον θάνατό του και περιλαμβάνει επίσης τα: Erstes Leid (Πρώτη θλίψη), Eine kleine Frau (Μια μικρή γυναίκα) και τη Josefine, die Sängerin oder Das Volk der Mäuse (Η Ζοζεφίνα, η τραγουδίστρια ή ο λαός των ποντικιών). Από τις ιστορίες εκείνες που εκδόθηκαν μετά τον θάνατο του Kafka το Eine Kreuzung (Το υβρίδιο/διασταύρωση) στο μοτίβο των ιστοριών με αλλόκοτα ζώα, μου φάνηκε εξαιρετικά ενδιαφέρον, επίσης το Die Wahrheit über Sancho Pansa (Η αλήθεια για τον Σάντσο Πάντσα) μια εκδοχή του διττού καφκικού ανθρώπου, είναι ιδιαίτερα διαφωτιστική. Από την ελληνική μυθολογία εμπνέεται τις ιστορίες Das Schweigen der Sirenen (Η σιωπή των Σειρήνων), Prometheus (Προμηθέας) και Poseidon (Ποσειδώνας). Ο Kafka είχε μια συγκεχυμένη ιδέα γι' αυτό που ονόμαζε δυαλισμό των Ελλήνων, όλα βγάζουν νόημα μέσα από το προσωπικό του φίλτρο ιδεών. Μέσα στο μυαλό του υπήρχε από την μία πλευρά αυτό που ονόμαζε "καθοριστική θεϊκή αρχή" ή "καθοριστική δύναμη" και από την άλλη οι αρχαίοι Έλληνες τους οποίους μάλιστα παρομοιάζει με Λουθηρανική σέκτα. Ανάμεσα στις δύο πλευρές υπάρχει το αρχαιοελληνικό Πάνθεον, έτσι ώστε οι άνθρωποι να έχουν χώρο να αναπνεύσουν, να μην συντρίβονται κάτω από μια άμεση επαφή με την θεϊκή δύναμη, το Πάνθεον παρέχει την ασφαλή απόσταση ανάμεσα στο θείο και το ανθρώπινο. Κατ' επέκταση θα μπορούσε να πει κανείς πως οι αρχαίοι Ελληνικοί θεοί είναι ανθρωπόμορφοι αλλά όχι θεανθρώπινοι. Ο Kafka θεωρούσε πως η τέλεια ανθρώπινη ευτυχία συνίστατο στο να πιστεύει κάποιος στην θεϊκή αρχή χωρίς ωστόσο να πασχίζει να την πλησιάσει και πως οι Έλληνες είχαν καταφέρει να πλησιάσουν σε αυτήν την τέλεια ευτυχία. (Βλέπε επιστολή προς Max Brod, Πράγα 7 Αυγούστου, 1920). Το Der Kübelreiter (Καβαλάρης του κουβά) είναι επισης μια ενδιαφέρουσα ιστορία συγκαταλέγεται ανάμεσα σε εκείνες που αφορούν αιτήσεις και παρακλήσεις που απορρίπτονται. Το Das Stadtwappen (Ο θυρεός της πόλης) είναι εξαιρετικά σημαντική για την κατανόηση του Μεγάλου Τείχους της Κίνας (Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer). Αυτές είναι κάποιες που ξεχώρισα. Ήταν ομολογουμένως ένα συναρπαστικό ταξίδι μέσα στον Καφκικό κόσμο. Δεν ήταν τόσο τρομαχτικό και δαιδαλώδες όσο μου είχε φανεί παλιότερα.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sidharth Vardhan

    The Old Man in the Woods Or The Monkeys by fire We monkeys have sat by this ever-burning fire for generations because we are afraid to go outside the perimeter of its light into the dark. Although we have tried to look beyond into the darkness everyday hoping to find something; yet all of us are afraid to step out. And this fear is not baseless, for whoever has entered the darkness has never returned. Thus this fire has a very central role to play in our lives. It has been there for as l The Old Man in the Woods Or The Monkeys by fire We monkeys have sat by this ever-burning fire for generations because we are afraid to go outside the perimeter of its light into the dark. Although we have tried to look beyond into the darkness everyday hoping to find something; yet all of us are afraid to step out. And this fear is not baseless, for whoever has entered the darkness has never returned. Thus this fire has a very central role to play in our lives. It has been there for as long as memory goes back into the past. One is often tempted to ask who created it in the first place - you can depend upon monkeys to let their curiosity rule them. While over the years, organized efforts have been made to increase it by feeding wood and thus increasing perimeter of its light - one must add 'quite successfully'; the question of its origins remain debate-able. Some argue that it was always there – but imagination finds it hard to deal with infinities. These days it is even contested that it was a result of an explosion. However, a widely accepted view has been that the Old Man did it. The Old Man, who it has been claimed, lives outside the perimeter of light. Many monkeys have repeatedly claimed to ‘see’ him there - although their descriptions of him are so widely different from one another that it render any explanation impossible. And they keep fighting among each-other as to whose description is better than other. Another thing for which you can depend on monkeys for - to form their opinions on things they know nothing about and then fight to prove they are right. They have formed factions – major as well as minor. There is, for example, a faction, J, which is sure there is an Old Man and he is very kind since as, so the legend goes, this old man first asked one of our ancestors to kill his son; but later out of total mercy told him he need not do so. Kind, isn’t it? There is another faction, C, which argues that the old man actually once sent his son among us, named Jay Cee – after doing a plastic surgery on him to give him the form of a monkey. I personally think that that the son, if there is a son, wouldn’t have agreed to go through plastic surgery for monkeys like us. Yet another faction, I, will have it that Jay Cee was only Old Man's ambassador to our little land like many others, who had come to us to tell us about the day the fire will be dissolved and all bad monkeys will be punished. Kind of makes you feel like you are in a classroom where teacher has gone out on an errand and will punish in-disciplined souls on return! Another faction H tells you that there are more than one old man out there - It is again a monkey thing to do, to go out looking for many where you haven’t yet found one. And all these factions along with many others have each have at least one leave of its own. Each faction claims its leave to be THE LEAVE containing the message either narrated or written by Old Man himself. There are so many THE LEAVES containing so very different messages written in so many different languages one cant help but marvel Old Man’s creative talents. Me? I personally refuse to love a leave that doesn’t start with words, ‘Burn me before you kill an innocent on my account’. (If any of my fellow monkeys happen to be listening, forgive the mockery! that runs in our monkey blood.) There are a few who scorn at all these factions and say there is no Old Man at all – and these last are themselves scorned at in turn by rest, for others won’t be reminded of that possibility. There is no presence as painful as an absence - that is any absence ever felt … Which reminds me if any of my fellow monkeys asks, this meeting never happened, you don’t know me. Anyway, some of these last who say there is no old man at all, claim the old man is an illusion – the result of our vivid imagination which shows brain what it wishes to see. The argument is favored by the fact that despite large extension of illuminated land as the fire has grown over the years – even to areas where the Old Man was supposed to be; he is still not to be found. Instead he seems to have silently crawled back as if avoiding us, hiding from us. May be he has too many wrinkles and feels hideous. Instead, so these non-believing monkeys will have you believe, that Old Man was imagined back when fire was still new and fears high; our ancestors needed a human that could father them and in absence of such a father figure they might have imagined one. In fact, we monkeys have always found it difficult to get over our daddy issues. That could explain all those fights. Who daddy loves the most? We say “us”, they say ”us” and then the fight. Whether or not, this father figure is real, these infidels argue, it is high time we become independent of him – even if it is tempting to have belief in a higher figure, if only as someone to curse on a rainy day. He, if he is, definitely seems to be wanting to be forgotten – or wouldn’t he have explained beyond doubt how he wants to be acknowledged? At the moment, one cannot help but wonder whether he thinks of anything of our acknowledgement or further requests and gifts we keep on making. And one doubts if he did anything at all worth acknowledging. For example, how did he created the fire in first place? Some argue he used woods and stones; others argue that he used petrol and wood – you see even on this point there has been no clarity but most seems to agree that a fire implies an old man who started it - for fire, they say, can't create itself and monkeys, they all seem to be surely incapable of doing it. There is also the very nature of Old Man – in fact some people think that he is not old at all; still others, though very few, are sure that it is a woman and there are some who say he has a vulture head. These last are considered primitive by others. Also what is there to say that Old Man is not a bad guy? In fact, look at the facts – his messages have created only confusion and differences. We are fighting with each other stupidly – one could claim that he is making us fight each other for his entertainment; powerful have always made fun of powerless –the temptation is just too strong. Just look at how we monkeys play with insects. Yes, I insist upon it. The Old Man is just making fun of us; it sure must be hard for a man in his position not to laugh at our monkey-ish behavior. May be, may be Old Man is the biggest enemy we have. There is an old proverb among us – a good impostor is one that would have you cut your tail and that of others, give them to him/her and still have you believe that he/she is good and has done you a favor. Anyway the hard truth remains one can never be sure. And yet all these factions are so sure of being right they must kill others to prove it – in service to or protection of Old Man they say. At times, one walks along perimeter of the fire's light for a lone walk, dejected with all this barbarian behavior; and looks outside the perimeters; hoping – yes hoping for sometimes one can't help it; hoping to see him … And yet, all the while being sure that there would be nothing but darkness visible.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Ted

    [9th book of 2021. Artist for this review will be Czech painter František Muzika.] “…Like having an extremely volatile friend,” I concluded. I was glad to finish my tirade as the woman I was talking to had proceeded, about half way through the speech, to slink beneath the table and try and work one of my socks off. Despite being alarmed by this I waited to see what would come of it; my sock was removed. She began work on the other when I brought my foot away from her and we met eyes: hers were wi [9th book of 2021. Artist for this review will be Czech painter František Muzika.] “…Like having an extremely volatile friend,” I concluded. I was glad to finish my tirade as the woman I was talking to had proceeded, about half way through the speech, to slink beneath the table and try and work one of my socks off. Despite being alarmed by this I waited to see what would come of it; my sock was removed. She began work on the other when I brought my foot away from her and we met eyes: hers were wild. “Could you repeat that last line?” she asked me. I cleared my throat and said again: “Kafka is strange and confusing, it is like having an extremely volatile friend.” She smiled a little strangely and shuffled back out from under the table. Her husband was still across the room smoking his pipe and complaining about the book I had given him, The Complete Short Stories, by Franz Kafka, which I was discussing with his wife. “I didn’t know you were reading it in the original German,” he mused from across the room; “or is this Russian?” I was confused by this as I read it in English, and assured him of that. He did not concede, and persisted that he was not seeing English before him. The book was simply upside down, I discovered, on standing over his shoulder. I reached out and turned it for him and he exclaimed with great surprise and happiness that he could now see it from my point of view: it was written in English. Their dog, which I found most disagreeable to be around, padded into the room. Often I felt as if the dog were speaking to me, or else his owners, and I found it disconcerting. They expressed the same concern, and told me that they had considered taking it to the vets, and then realised, for what need? The dog was not in any pain, nor was it an inconvenience that they sometimes imagined it was speaking to them. A long time ago I had planned to investigate but things got in the way and I was very busy doing other jobs. My manager continually tried to get hold of me throughout the evening by ringing my phone; he had the habit of ringing at all times of day, even late at night and very early in the morning. I presumed he didn’t sleep, which was surprising when one saw him, for he had very healthy-looking skin. “In Memoriam II”—1943 Days later (my phone was continually ringing as my manager attempted to get hold of me) I began fasting to see if I could enter a new state of mind or feeling. The book, The Complete Short Stories by Franz Kafka, was nearby as I sat and waited. For some time I waited for some profound experience, but nothing came. The only inspiration that came was, when I became dizzyingly hungry, to eat the pages of the story “The Hunger Artist” from the book (I confused being ironic with being profound) and I quickly regretted it as the paper became sodden and chewed-up in my mouth and therefore difficult to swallow. I began gagging and gasping for air as I had worked most of the pages into a thick and dense ball with my molars and couldn’t get it out of my throat; my air supply was truly blocked and I believed I was going to die. Opening my desk drawer I found a pair of scissors and put them in my mouth; though uncomfortable, I could feel them hacking away at the ball of paper wedged in my throat and slowly I began, reluctantly, swallowing smaller lumps, and, where I could, spitting some out onto my carpet. Once the process was finished and I cleaned the scissors in the sink (they were partially bloody and plastered with shreds of paper) I set about reading the book again peacefully in my bed. And that night, I couldn’t sleep because I remembered the man who asked me what I was reading on the train and I told him I was reading a story about a man who wakes as a giant insect and he had laughed so hard his tongue had almost jumped from his mouth and his pupils fell out like tiny lumps of lead. Due to complete lack of sleep and madness induced by the constant ringing of my telephone I did start reaching a level of insight, or so I believed then, but I now (healed and cured, having finished the book) understand as pure delirium. I spoke incessantly on the phone to an old friend of mine, K., who I had not spoken to in many years and ignored, or was oblivious, to the surprise and unease in his voice by my ringing him. He frequently attempted to end the conversation but I barrelled on with what I had to say to him about the stories I was reading. K. informed me that he could hardly follow what I was saying and asked if I was drunk. He informed me that I was slurring horribly into the phone and I was becoming more and more unintelligible. This did not concern me in the slightest; I tried, to the best of my ability, to describe a number of the Shorter Stories from the book, and failed. When the phone was finally put down on me K. went back to his bedroom and lay down on the bed (he told me this a number of years later when I was beyond healthy and free from the book) and realised he knew less about Kafka than before the phone call. He told me he had never read any of his books, though once a man without any authority had once attempted to arrest him, but would not give a reason, and K. moved countries because of this incident, and returned a year later when he had recovered. “Ostrov II”—1936 These happenings continued in my life until reaching the end of the book. I locked it in a drawer and tried my best to forget it. Thus, my journey to recovery began. Things in my life became to make more sense, and things that were previously unsettling and odious were now completely normal and pleasant. I grew quite fond of my neighbour’s dog and she promised to have made no remark on the dog talking—what a ridiculous notion! The only time I almost relapsed was when the desire to check if the pages of “The Hunger Artist” were still in my copy, but I refrained, knowing that if I was led back into the labyrinthine depths of horror between the pages, my life would again slip from all reason. Years later, when I was cured, I opened that drawer (still locked) and found the book was no longer there. So, I lived my life finally untethered and happy. Just a month ago now I received a phone call from K., whom I have not spoken to or heard about in around ten years, saying he was also well and finally cured and returning to England. I expressed my confusion: had he not been in England? And cured from what? K. had stolen my copy of the book and began reading it. His life, as mine had, became nonsensical and terrifying and he had started trotting the globe amidst the great web of irrational fury produced by the reading of the book. “What of the book now?” I asked, once he had told me his story. “It is in the bottom of the Tiber. Or perhaps the Danube,” he replied; “I hope you didn’t want it back.” Of course, I did not. K. is now back in England and despite his age, soon to be getting married. Neither of have mentioned the book so far and I don't think we ever will; I expect soon we will rest in quiet, subtle graves and finally get the rest we now deserve.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Seth

    Buy a good collection of Kafka's stories and put it in the bathroom. Really. If you've been led to believe that Kafka wrote drab stories about alienation and angst (and that The Metamorphosis is a tradgedy), then take a magic marker, cross out the name on the spine, and pretend it's a weird book by Dave Sedaris or something. Kafka's stories are smart, often funny, quick to read, and as modern and relevant as ever. In the bathroom you'll probably bypass the larger works (including The Metamorphosis Buy a good collection of Kafka's stories and put it in the bathroom. Really. If you've been led to believe that Kafka wrote drab stories about alienation and angst (and that The Metamorphosis is a tradgedy), then take a magic marker, cross out the name on the spine, and pretend it's a weird book by Dave Sedaris or something. Kafka's stories are smart, often funny, quick to read, and as modern and relevant as ever. In the bathroom you'll probably bypass the larger works (including The Metamorphosis) and discover his short-shorts. We call it "flash fiction" now: stories under a few hundred words and packing a poem-like punch into their lean frames. Kafka was a master of the form, but they are too short to use as an essay subject in high school, so too many people don't read them. When you've adjusted to Kafka as an absurdist who actually likes people, then re-read The Metamorphosis (and finish it this time--it ends on an "up" note, much to most peoples' surprise) and strike out into The Hunger Artist, The Penal Colony, and the rest. Treat this is a collection of fun, short, absurd, witty stories and forget everything your high school english teacher told you. He or she had't actually read Kafka in decades, after all.

  10. 4 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    I first bought this in 2009, in an edition where Vintage had removed the full stops from the text in error, or to lure me into some Kakfaesque trap. Thanks, Vintage! I complained and received a freebie of Bulgakov’s The Heart of a Dog instead. I parked the stories for a long time, until this moment in time, when I revisited the most terrifying story in the universe, ‘The Metamorphosis’, the most horrific and significant story in the universe ‘Inside the Penal Colony’, the breathtaking debut ‘Des I first bought this in 2009, in an edition where Vintage had removed the full stops from the text in error, or to lure me into some Kakfaesque trap. Thanks, Vintage! I complained and received a freebie of Bulgakov’s The Heart of a Dog instead. I parked the stories for a long time, until this moment in time, when I revisited the most terrifying story in the universe, ‘The Metamorphosis’, the most horrific and significant story in the universe ‘Inside the Penal Colony’, the breathtaking debut ‘Description of a Struggle’, the claustrophobic mindbender ‘The Burrow’, the excruciatingly tedious ‘Investigations of a Dog’, and the bountiful sequence of short fables, sketches, and oddities, separated here into stories published and unpublished in his lifetime by Gabriel Josipovici, with full stops reinstated. This edition uses the Edwin & Willa Muir translations for the most part with several other couple-combo contributions, and serves as the perfect definitive edition of Franz’s stories for your lifetime’s bookshelf.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Zanna

    Probably most readable, rhythmic and rounded among these tales, so much so that I forced my brother to listen to me reading it aloud to him, is The Great Wall of China, which contains the immortal parable of the messenger. Kafka's tales are oblique, frequently, I think, resisting reading in terms of established philosophical or ideological positions. Their psychological resonance is immense, even when it's difficult to pin a definitive meaning to the action, to divine the motivations of the chara Probably most readable, rhythmic and rounded among these tales, so much so that I forced my brother to listen to me reading it aloud to him, is The Great Wall of China, which contains the immortal parable of the messenger. Kafka's tales are oblique, frequently, I think, resisting reading in terms of established philosophical or ideological positions. Their psychological resonance is immense, even when it's difficult to pin a definitive meaning to the action, to divine the motivations of the characters, or to suck out an aphorism. Tales like The Metamorphosis describe the atmosphere of the period almost by exquisitely carving out the negative space. Investigations of a Dog is another of my favourites, interrogating, indirectly but with keen clear sight, unspoken anxieties and motivations behind social habits, and perhaps religious practices. I have a theory that every honest reader will find themselves (uncomfortably, of course) in Kafka. I am the animal narrator-protagonist of The Burrow, who obsesses over its home's security and defences, and experiences bliss rolling on the floor of one of its chambers in brief, luxurious forgetfulness. Reflecting on this is quite therapeutic for me; I am able to challenge myself.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Kafka placed his own stories in a specific canon, included in the previous book I reviewed, called “The Metamorphosis and Other Stories.” I agree with Kafka. Those stories stand out among the rest. However, reading all of his shorts gave me no less pleasure. I liked his shorter stories most, as they packed meaning and depth into a small speck, like the small matter scientists say blew up into the Universe. I love the way Kafka describes settings. I love the way he makes me feel. Two stories I co Kafka placed his own stories in a specific canon, included in the previous book I reviewed, called “The Metamorphosis and Other Stories.” I agree with Kafka. Those stories stand out among the rest. However, reading all of his shorts gave me no less pleasure. I liked his shorter stories most, as they packed meaning and depth into a small speck, like the small matter scientists say blew up into the Universe. I love the way Kafka describes settings. I love the way he makes me feel. Two stories I could not finish. I’ll have to come back to them later: “Investigations of a Dog” and “The Burrow.” These read more like essays than stories and I’m holding on to them for a day when I get a Kafka craving. Updike mentions in the beginning the term Kafkaesque originated from his novels. I anticipate reading these three novels and have ordered them already. I also look forward to reading Kafka’s journals, which also make way to me in the mail. He has an unbelievable way with words. He’s the first writer to take me into another world without creating another world. He has no Hobbits or Aes Sedai, no hybrid man-creatures or Spider-Morph babies eating their mothers when they drop from the womb. He speaks of a normal world but through the lens of his mind, and it transforms into a beautiful place. People say Kafkaesque refers to that creepy feeling you can’t quite put a finger on. I get that now. His stories make you laugh or react in some surface way, then something grows inside the back of your mind and a double meaning invades. It doesn’t reveal all but you know it hides there, and it scares you deep down. I had an experience a few days ago, the Kafka mind invaded, and it helped me understand the endeared term derived from his name. I had been promoted so I hid in the bathroom. I dropped to my knees and palms, placed my face on the floor and said thanks to God. Then I thought, what if a Black Widow crawls out from behind the toilet and bites me and I die right here giving God thanks. Funny in a sick way, ironic. A good story idea: religious guy drops to give God thanks and dies of a spider-bite. The irony: he sees God as good, for that moment, but God or nature or the Universe sends a spider to kill him. That strange, conflicted way of thinking defines Kafkaesque for me. Kafka has claimed the number one place on my favorite authors list. I can’t wait to read the novels and all his nonfiction. What an amazing soul!

  13. 4 out of 5

    John

    The recent so-called scandalous revelations about Kafka's personal library (as if -- turns out he read a slightly edgy quarterly of arts & literature) prompt me to say something about his work. For my Goodreads list, I suppose it must be this book, an inevitable choice but nonetheless indispensable (I should add, too, that I can't really specify when I read the COLLECTED STORIES; I began doing so in the 1960's & never stopped). To read Kafka is to be carried away by the imagination of the centur The recent so-called scandalous revelations about Kafka's personal library (as if -- turns out he read a slightly edgy quarterly of arts & literature) prompt me to say something about his work. For my Goodreads list, I suppose it must be this book, an inevitable choice but nonetheless indispensable (I should add, too, that I can't really specify when I read the COLLECTED STORIES; I began doing so in the 1960's & never stopped). To read Kafka is to be carried away by the imagination of the century just ended, a dream-facility which bodied forth core images of our changing condition, armed with new technologies but saddled with ancient hatreds & fears. The most famous such image, to be sure, is that of the breadwinner turned into a bug, "The Metamorphosis," & naturally that nightmare domestic comedy is in here. But this collection also has far shorter yet likewise spot-on renderings out of our developing collective unconscious, such as "A Hunger Artist," ever-more-essential reading for anyone trying to following a creative calling amid the materialist hurly-burly. More intense distillations are served, as well, in what would come to be called "flash-fic." But even at the length of a couple of pages or less, Kafka generates blinking terror & breathtaking cultural reach, in the bloody labyrinth of "A Country Doctor" or the heady blind alley of "On Parables." At every length, more's the astonishment, the rhetoric's perfectly modulated, with every correlation & description & thought given just the development, the finish, needed to serve the vision in play. Kafka insists on the primacy of that vision, never flashy, his good judgment eliminating anything that might distract, might suggest artist matters more than art. The cult of personality that's grown up around him, over the last few decades, is one of the most galling travesties of our literary culture. In Kafka's stories, the lengthiest to the most abbreviated, we are reminded that even our corrupted & shit-stained times may still be cleansed by the outflow of humanity's purest storytelling impulses.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Z. F.

    “At the very corner dividing the two streets Wese paused, only his walking stick came around into the other street to support him. A sudden whim. The night sky invited him, with its dark blue and its gold. Unknowing, he gazed up at it, unknowing he lifted his hat and stroked his hair; nothing up there drew together in a pattern to interpret the immediate future for him; everything stayed in its senseless, inscrutable place. In itself it was a highly reasonable action that Wese should walk on, bu “At the very corner dividing the two streets Wese paused, only his walking stick came around into the other street to support him. A sudden whim. The night sky invited him, with its dark blue and its gold. Unknowing, he gazed up at it, unknowing he lifted his hat and stroked his hair; nothing up there drew together in a pattern to interpret the immediate future for him; everything stayed in its senseless, inscrutable place. In itself it was a highly reasonable action that Wese should walk on, but he walked onto Schmar's knife.” -from “A Fratricide” Trying to review Kafka without simply resorting to a string of tired adjectives (claustrophic, absurd, paranoid, circuitous, nightmarish, labyrinthine, despair-inducing, paradoxical) is a task about as futile as any to be found in a Kafka story—but then again, what is any review of a great book if not an exercise in futility? You don’t need me to tell you Kafka is great, because you know Kafka is great, because everyone knows Kafka is great, and on and on forever. Even if you’ve never read him, the name probably evokes images of an unfortunate man being turned into an insect or tortured in a penal colony or tried for a crime no one will say. You know when a situation is “Kafkaesque,” just as you know when it’s Orwellian or Lovecraftian or Dickensian or Shakespearean. (Side note: ever wonder why women writers are never given the name-as-descriptor treatment? Why no Austenesque or Woolfian?) When the culture is saturated with an artist’s influence like it is with Kafka’s, it can seem almost redundant to experience that artist’s work firsthand. What else can there possibly be to glean? The irony, of course, is that the best artists are the ones it’s least possible to imitate or explain, and a classic really worth that title will almost always evoke surprise rather than familiarity. Kafka reheated two or three times over is not really Kafka at all, no matter how Kafkaesque it may seem at face value. Going into the Collected Stories, I thought I knew more or less what to expect: the existential panic, the desensitizing bureaucracy, the unanswered questions shouted into a disinterested or malevolent void. And of course you can find all of that here—the stereotypes have an ample foundation in reality. What I didn’t anticipate, though, was the heart—the tenderness with which Kafka regards even (or maybe especially) his most ridiculous and self-defeating characters: the pointlessly dueling pairs in “A Little Woman” and “The Village Schoolmaster,” the lonely and pathetic tunnel-dweller in “The Burrow,” the self-absorbed rodent diva in “Josephine the Singer.” I was primed to expect a little humor, of a pitch-black and cynical kind, but not the snort-out-loud silliness of the creature Odradek in “The Cares of a Family Man” or the self-parodying pessimism of “Reflections for Gentleman-Jockeys.” And whatever I’ve come to expect from the nowadays-largely-predictable and uninspired genre we call “magical realism,” it has little to do with the almost-alien dreaminess of the imagery and atmosphere on display through nearly every story of this collection. Don’t get me wrong—Kafka does give us plenty of fear and isolation and failure to communicate and needless cruelty and all those other Kafkaesque buzzwords. The perpetual anxiety of his characters, along with the bodily contortions and discomfort that so often accompany it, were (literally) painfully familiar to me as a sufferer of chronic anxiety. The meaningless corporate hoop-jumping and purgatorial workplace setpieces are still, as so many have said already, shockingly recognizable in our age of cubicles and Excel spreadsheets. And it would be unjust not to mention that Kafka, a German-speaking Jew who died in Vienna in 1924, clearly understood the reassuring numbness of bureaucratic ritual and the brutal uses to which it could be put decades before his own sisters and millions of others were sent to die in the Nazis’ ghettos and concentration camps. But it’s not all doom and gloom and humorless jokes from a cruel universe. Kafka wasn’t some college sophomore self-styling as a nihilist, arrogantly assured of the rightness of his own unbeliefs. So much of his writing, especially the ultra-short, flash-fiction-y pieces that I count as my favorites, are suffused with real curiosity and surprise, even whimsy. (Yes, I said it: Kafka is whimsical.) Most of his protagonists are sympathetic, if a little aloof, just normal-ish working people trying their best to reach an understanding with their neighbors and make sense of a senseless world. They’re neurotic, yes, but who isn’t? And for all the stories’ pervasive uneasiness, there’s also a no-less-pervasive feeling of wonder—as if the half-dreams that come just before or after real sleep have somehow been captured and made frighteningly tangible. Not every story in this compilation is a masterpiece. Half of them weren’t published in Kafka’s lifetime, and many of those were never completed. I was bored by the lengthy, narrative-eschewing surrealism of “Description of a Struggle,” and some of the longer pieces (“Investigations of a Dog,” “The Burrow”) read more like tedious philosophical experiments than “stories” in a strict sense. Quite a few of Kafka’s works (“The Hunger Artist” being the most famous) serve mainly as vehicles for his musings on the creative life, and, while some readers may argue, I tend to find that such writerly navel-gazing works best in small doses, if at all. Generally speaking, in fact, I think that K is at his best in the very short fictions: paragraph- or page-long impressions that introduce a striking image but don’t let us get too familiar. There are famous exceptions, of course (“The Metamorphosis” and “In the Penal Colony” deserve all the attention they get), but for the most part it was the micro-stories that inspired the most macro response in me. If I were more self-aware, maybe I'd have taken that lesson to heart and kept this review short too. But then again, Kafka has the advantage here: he has to condense only the experience of living. I, on the other hand, have to condense Kafka.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Parmida R. A.

    Albert Camus once said that "the whole of Kafka's art consists in compelling the reader to re-read him." Since the interpretations of Kafka are many and the search for the meaning of his stories seemingly endless, the reader will return to the story itself in the hope of finding guidance from within. Thus, a second reading will — hopefully — become a commentary on the first, and subsequent readings will — again hopefully — shed light on the preceding ones. Each story I read trapped me in an endl Albert Camus once said that "the whole of Kafka's art consists in compelling the reader to re-read him." Since the interpretations of Kafka are many and the search for the meaning of his stories seemingly endless, the reader will return to the story itself in the hope of finding guidance from within. Thus, a second reading will — hopefully — become a commentary on the first, and subsequent readings will — again hopefully — shed light on the preceding ones. Each story I read trapped me in an endless maze. I admire the literary style of Kafka, but when it comes to the realization and the meaning behind his stories, he is very enigmatic.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cecily

    Every story is different, but each one takes you to a different world, or an alternative view of one we are in (and perhaps wish we weren't). Some are funny, some sad and many are both. Some are so short they are more like prose poems. Great for dipping into and getting a taste of Kafka before (and during and after) tackling his larger works. See my Kafka-related bookshelf for other works by and about Kafka (http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/...). Every story is different, but each one takes you to a different world, or an alternative view of one we are in (and perhaps wish we weren't). Some are funny, some sad and many are both. Some are so short they are more like prose poems. Great for dipping into and getting a taste of Kafka before (and during and after) tackling his larger works. See my Kafka-related bookshelf for other works by and about Kafka (http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/...).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    There is something about Kafka's writing that just pulls you in, ties you to the chair and makes you experience it - in all of its frustration, humor and sadness. When observed objectively, it is almost insane that we still read an author that only published a few completed short stories. Kafka ordered all of his work to be burned upon his early death at 41 - his executor and friend, Max Brod, sensed the unfulfilled genius in Kafka's work, and refused his friend's dying wish. So I asked myself w There is something about Kafka's writing that just pulls you in, ties you to the chair and makes you experience it - in all of its frustration, humor and sadness. When observed objectively, it is almost insane that we still read an author that only published a few completed short stories. Kafka ordered all of his work to be burned upon his early death at 41 - his executor and friend, Max Brod, sensed the unfulfilled genius in Kafka's work, and refused his friend's dying wish. So I asked myself when I took this book of the shelf a couple of months ago, "Why read this book of stories for the third time?" I can't think of another collection of short stories I've read cover-to-cover more than twice. In addition, most of the stories in this collection are unfinished. The jewels of the collection, "The Hunger Artist", "A Report to an Academy", "In the Penal Colony" and the eponymous "Metamorphosis" are outstanding. The remainder of the collection is like staring into a handful of uncut, unpolished diamonds - the reader is forced to look at the potential rather than the current state. This collection includes everything that exists from Kafka's pen, with the exception of his three unfinished novels. I don't think that Kafka is the best short story writer. But after reading his stories for the third time, I think I've realized why I like him so much. Kafka's particular talent at a particular point in human history is serendipitous. I believe that his writing is a bridge between the story writing and telling of the 19th century and the dawning of a new age in literature (the "Modern" and then "Post-Modern" literature ages). I can sense 19th century Europe in his stories as much as I can the David Foster Wallace, Ben Marcus and other talented late 20th century writers. This positioning is unique and rather daunting for an author with little finished work. A word of warning: the last third of the book contains "short short stories", many of which aren't more than a paragraph long and are really nothing more than ideas for later consideration. Reading through pages of these is like a journey through a deranged mind, so if you choose to read this book cover-to-cover, plan on tackling this section in short bursts.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Geoff

    I can't believe I haven't rated this one yet. This is where you go to find Kafka, even more so than his unfinished novels. Though the Trial is magnificent, the short stories are where his genius is most evident. Depths and depths to plumb here. Leagues beyond most other writers. I can't believe I haven't rated this one yet. This is where you go to find Kafka, even more so than his unfinished novels. Though the Trial is magnificent, the short stories are where his genius is most evident. Depths and depths to plumb here. Leagues beyond most other writers.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Smiley

    3.75 stars I found reading this book time-consuming, tedious and tiresome due to its stories' unpredictable lengths as well as many of his lengthy narrations in which I wondered if he has applied a literary technique called 'stream of consciousness'. The technique, I think, is fine with appropriate indented paragraphs but it was sheer challenging and discouraging beyond words at the same time in terms of readability and encouragement. For example, "Investigations of a Dog" covering 38 pages has 2 3.75 stars I found reading this book time-consuming, tedious and tiresome due to its stories' unpredictable lengths as well as many of his lengthy narrations in which I wondered if he has applied a literary technique called 'stream of consciousness'. The technique, I think, is fine with appropriate indented paragraphs but it was sheer challenging and discouraging beyond words at the same time in terms of readability and encouragement. For example, "Investigations of a Dog" covering 38 pages has 22 pages without any paragraph while the most famous one "The Metamorphosis" covering 51 pages has only 4 pages without. I vaguely recall reading his "The Metamorphosis" some 10 or 15 years ago with pleasure and admiration simply amazingly stunned by his unique writing style, plot, setting, characters, dialogs, etc. ; before that I might ask "Kafka who?" if someone recommended me to read his works. This is one of the reasons why it had long taken me many years, on and off, to read the other stories as the whole sequel-like reading series after this famous story. Therefore, I don't claim I liked all stories in this book, in other words, I have had my own preferences and, according to Max Brod, his close friend and biographer, Kafka didn't wanted the remaining stories published and told him to burn them after his death. Fortunately, Mr. Brod decided not to. That's why we still have all of his stories to read; they being categorized into three groups in the contents in which we can see an asterisk (*) after each title denoting its publication during Kafka's lifetime; the groups being classified as follows: Two Introductory Parables (2, all published), The Longer Stories (20, 8 published), and The Shorter Stories (55, 29 published). (pp. v-viii) So we can see why we can enjoy reading those of Kafka's published stories inferring his approval whereas those posthumously published were understandably in draft form and we can't help feeling unfamiliar when we read them. To illustrate my point, I would list only five of his unpublished stories in his lifetime in each group: The Longer Stories - Description of a Struggle - Wedding Preparations in the Country - The Village Schoolmaster (The Giant Mole) - Blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelor - The Warden of the Tomb The Shorter Stories - The Bridge - The Bucket Rider - The Knock at the Manor Gate - My Neighbor - A Crossbreed [A Sport] Among his stories in this collection, their unpredictability of the lengthy as mentioned above has posed a problem. And how about those with their shortness? So I think when we take the three shortest into account including "The Trees" (p. 382), "The Next Village" (p. 404) and "The Wish to Be a Red Indian" (p. 390), we can see something extraordinarily original, creative and insightful in Kafka himself as a true writer. Only the shortest would suffice to be extracted as an exemplary one: The Trees For we are like tree trunks in the snow. In appearance they lie sleekly and a little push should be enough to set them rolling. No, it can't be done, for they are firmly wedded to the ground. But see, even that is only appearance. In conclusion, this book should be a delight to both Kafka's fans and newcomers since his three groups of story writing have been completely collected for them; some stories being well-known while many being relatively obscure. Therefore, they should be read with understanding and respect by means of his biography. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_K...)

  20. 5 out of 5

    William2

    In his introduction here John Updike mentions the beauty of the original German. I wonder if that isn’t why the stories as I read them here in English are so often slogs. “Metamorphosis” was a great bore. Alas…

  21. 4 out of 5

    Eldonfoil TH*E Whatever Champion

    Kafka's Complete Stories is the rare book to which I could give two stars or five. Beyond his writing, I love him for his humanity, his authenticity, and his painful incompatibility with the modern world. His attempts, however, to put all this in writing are unfortunately inconsistent, ranging from mesmerizing to incomplete "scribbling" as he referred to his own writing. As a reader I am repeatedly wishing beyond wishing that he had expanded, developed, and completed more of the stories and frag Kafka's Complete Stories is the rare book to which I could give two stars or five. Beyond his writing, I love him for his humanity, his authenticity, and his painful incompatibility with the modern world. His attempts, however, to put all this in writing are unfortunately inconsistent, ranging from mesmerizing to incomplete "scribbling" as he referred to his own writing. As a reader I am repeatedly wishing beyond wishing that he had expanded, developed, and completed more of the stories and fragments that he left behind, even if he did not expect or desire them to be published. But then there are also stories like "A Little Woman," "A Country Doctor," the famous "Metamorphosis," and probably my favorite, "The Judgment," along with several others, which really begin to communicate Kafka's inner self in a moving way. Other readers will surely find other stories to be their favorites, a further testament to his work. Bureaucracy. Offices. Forms. Social expectations. Domineering fathers. Managers. Jobs. A world of talk talk, cheap talk, dispirited organization(s), deceptive systems and their propagating individuals. So cheap and disgusting that it sets forth a frightening gloom and apocalyptic sense of loss. Kafka deeply felt one of the greatest tragedies of modernity: the loss of spirit to ingrained, mass-produced socialization serving mere manipulation, the victory of faceless egotism and vapid professionalism packaged in self-importance for the sake of materialism and pseudo-rationalism, normally at the expense of beauty and originality. Since his death, I'm sorry to report, nothing has improved. I still feel Kafka's dread, it is real, when I go into the doctor's office, Philadelphia restaurants, public schools. At his best, Kafka's writing offers safe harbor from the trembling, or at least a pillow of criticism to rest one's head while on this insufferable road Western society calls the 20th/21st century, a moment to recall our own humanity as it inevitably gets lost in this massive shuffle, Kafka's greatest fear.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

    Most people's exposure to Kafka consists entirely of "The Metamorphosis", which is a shame, for while that story is indeed a classic, it has led to a somewhat unfair pigeonholing of Kafka as a lonely, disillusioned Oedipal case with a penchant for bleak imagery (hence the adjective Kafkaesque). But while Kafka certainly is all of those things, he is also much more, and this collection is a brilliant portrait of that. Some of the best moments in the collection come from Kafka letting out his playf Most people's exposure to Kafka consists entirely of "The Metamorphosis", which is a shame, for while that story is indeed a classic, it has led to a somewhat unfair pigeonholing of Kafka as a lonely, disillusioned Oedipal case with a penchant for bleak imagery (hence the adjective Kafkaesque). But while Kafka certainly is all of those things, he is also much more, and this collection is a brilliant portrait of that. Some of the best moments in the collection come from Kafka letting out his playful, childish side, as in "Blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelor", which follows the frustrations of a perplexed old man who suddenly finds himself sharing an apartment with two mysterious bouncing balls. "Investigations of a Dog" is an odd tale written from a dog's perspective (and not a man suddenly and grotesquely cursed with a dog's body, either... just a plain dog). Then there is the oddly apropos "A Report to an Academy", which features the musings of a civilized ape, and "The Village Schoolmaster", about the conflict between two well-meaning but naive academics over the proper means of proving the existence of a giant species of mole. And yes, all the classics are in here as well. "A Hunger Artist", "In the Penal Colony", and of course, "The Metamorphosis". The collection loses points only for its unevenness (another definitive Kafkaesque trait). Even within stories, the quality can greatly vary (the second half of "Blumfeld", for instance, is but a far-too-drawn-out explication of the inventive magic-balls metaphor of the first half. It's really too bad that Kafka's work and various maladies (real and imagined) prevented him from putting forth more effort toward his fiction. But then, I guess, he wouldn't have been Kafka.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Perifian

    Some, I would assume, early, over-long stories here. My issue with Kafka, which I don't have with The Castle, is that everything comes across as a minimalistic intellectual exercise, the themes repeated endlessly, the characters mere vehicles. Some, I would assume, early, over-long stories here. My issue with Kafka, which I don't have with The Castle, is that everything comes across as a minimalistic intellectual exercise, the themes repeated endlessly, the characters mere vehicles.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I read as much of it as I could comprehend/ connect with in high school and it mattered a great deal to me. Years pass, and I still go back to it in difficult times for wisdom, perspective, and nourishment. Immortal.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Kafka's stories cast a long shadow -- so long in fact that, for me, the 21st-century reader just now reading them, they seem less distinctive at first than they are, for the truth is that any current member of the western world will have already read Kafka, in a way, just by being who they are, where they are, when they are: our culture, I mean, has so thoroughly assimilated the voice and vision of Kafka and his characters that one has the experience of having already encountered them, prior to Kafka's stories cast a long shadow -- so long in fact that, for me, the 21st-century reader just now reading them, they seem less distinctive at first than they are, for the truth is that any current member of the western world will have already read Kafka, in a way, just by being who they are, where they are, when they are: our culture, I mean, has so thoroughly assimilated the voice and vision of Kafka and his characters that one has the experience of having already encountered them, prior to an experience of the real thing. We have of course the entire catalog of writers who claim to have grown and tended their mushrooms in this shadow -- a catalog that quickly (and persuasively) wanders from influential ties of the first order to those of the second and the third; we have, too, for just one example, the ear-tickling whisper of "Omelette du fromage" of Dexter's Lab. Kafka's sensibility is everywhere -- to an unfortunate, adjective-springing extent. I found two principles at work in the stories: alternately, the extremely logical (the endlessly anticipatory and permutatory) and the extremely illogical (the logic of dreams), sometimes, though rarely, a fusion of both. Too much of the former renders boredom; of the latter, groundless dizziness. This reader, in other words, didn't find home-runs on every page; many of the longer stories ended up being the boring-er ones (usually via an excess of the extremely logical stuff, which works within the span of one, maybe two stanzaic paragraphs, but cannot sustain an entire piece); yet the winners are more numerous, and make one forget, with their originality, humor, and pathos, such irredeemable slogs as "A Report to an Academy," "The Great Wall of China," and "Investigations of a Dog." Personal delights: The Stoker The Metamorphosis A Country Doctor A Visit to a Mine Description of a Struggle The Angel Blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelor The Hunter Gracchus My Neighbor Hands A Chinese Puzzle

  26. 4 out of 5

    Merl Fluin

    42 SHORT STORIES IN 42 DAYS* DAY 1: The Metamorphosis Come on, people, this is probably the most famous short story of the 20th century, nobody wants or needs me to write a review. *The rules: – Read one short story a day, every day for six weeks – Read no more than one story by the same author within any 14-day period – Deliberately include authors I wouldn't usually read – Review each story in one sentence or less Any fresh reading suggestions/recommendations will be gratefully received 📚 42 SHORT STORIES IN 42 DAYS* DAY 1: The Metamorphosis Come on, people, this is probably the most famous short story of the 20th century, nobody wants or needs me to write a review. *The rules: – Read one short story a day, every day for six weeks – Read no more than one story by the same author within any 14-day period – Deliberately include authors I wouldn't usually read – Review each story in one sentence or less Any fresh reading suggestions/recommendations will be gratefully received 📚

  27. 4 out of 5

    Taka

    Complete incomplete stories-- Most of Kafka's stories are incomplete. That's not to say his works are bad or unsatisfactory--though there are many that simply tease and baffle--but just that: incomplete. One thing I do need to own up is that most of his stories are not much fun to read. "Metamorphosis" is definitely really good; "In the Penal Colony" is fascinating; "A Hunger Artist" is poignant and superbly told; "The Judgment," though this was Kafka's personal favorite, is "all right" at best; a Complete incomplete stories-- Most of Kafka's stories are incomplete. That's not to say his works are bad or unsatisfactory--though there are many that simply tease and baffle--but just that: incomplete. One thing I do need to own up is that most of his stories are not much fun to read. "Metamorphosis" is definitely really good; "In the Penal Colony" is fascinating; "A Hunger Artist" is poignant and superbly told; "The Judgment," though this was Kafka's personal favorite, is "all right" at best; and "Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk" exudes Kafka-ness in its strange "contradictoriness." But the rest, particularly of what's under the "Longer Short Stories" Section in this book are simply and irrevocably boring. The first two stories--"Description of a Struggle" and "Wedding Preparations in the Country"--are almost unbearable and I share the sentiment with John Updike when he pronounces them "repellent." "The Village Schoolmaster," "A Country Doctor," "The Burrow," "Investigations of a Dog," and any story with China in it never fail to put you to sleep. The problem with most of them is clear and plain: he doesn't know how to tell engrossing stories. He does have that rare talent of producing stories that are extremely private and nightmarish--yes, I grant that, but as far as his story-telling skills are concerned, he is an absolute amateur. To somewhat corroborate this claim, just take a look at his early short stories--both long and short ones--and you'll see the earlier ones are really like the scribbling of a beginning writer who is content to write about whatever comes to his mind without really exploring their creative potentials. Some of them have really bad premises to begin with and the author seems to have gotten tired of continuing the stories (e.g., "Blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelor" - I mean who can be fascinated for a sustained period of time reading about two balls that bounce around the room following an old man?). His early short shorts are almost all too amateurish and abstruse in a nonsensical, absurdistic way. His later stories are a lot better and we see the Kafka we know in them (e.g., "A Dream," "The Bridge," and "The Bucket Rider"). Reading all the stories here, I understand why Kafka told Max Brod to destroy his manuscripts--they are not all that great. But some of them, I have to admit, are indubitably masterpieces. 3 stars for some really good and mostly bad to mediocre.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mary Slowik

    A couple things: I can't think of any other writer who had as much antipathy toward his own work as Kafka. As he was dying, he repeatedly and emphatically asked his friend Max Brod to destroy all of his stories. The knowledge of this naturally creates a kind of tragic grandeur to the work, the thought that he was never really satisfied or proud of what he'd produced, and that they all could have been lost. I wouldn't say that this destructive impulse was due to an excess of perfectionism, but rat A couple things: I can't think of any other writer who had as much antipathy toward his own work as Kafka. As he was dying, he repeatedly and emphatically asked his friend Max Brod to destroy all of his stories. The knowledge of this naturally creates a kind of tragic grandeur to the work, the thought that he was never really satisfied or proud of what he'd produced, and that they all could have been lost. I wouldn't say that this destructive impulse was due to an excess of perfectionism, but rather the most extreme example of that inevitable writer's lament of execution failing to live up to concept. Now you're probably familiar with "Metamorphosis" (who isn't?) and you might think that it was a one-off. What I discovered from reading all of Kafka's stories was that he returned to that interspecies well several times. There's a story written from the perspective of a chimpanzee who learned to speak, and a story about two men obsessed with a giant mole, and then possibly my favorite story in the collection, "The Burrow," written from the perspective of a creature of some unspecified species, about his pleasures and his fears, his past and his plans. Oh, and then the chronologically last of the 'longer' stories, about a singing mouse named Josephine. So gloriously weird and oblique, yet oddly profound. I'll be moving on to Kafka's diaries, since, along with this volume, I received them as a Christmas gift when I was like 13. I remember starting on the diaries first, foolishly, and never finishing them. I'd rather be trying his novels.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mai

    Someone: What's your religion? Me: KAFKA Someone: What's your religion? Me: KAFKA

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Is it possible that the complete works of anybody ever are going to be amazing? That every product they have assembled - finished or not - when compiled, will be wall-to-wall (and without exaggeration) amazing? It's improbable enough to write one item of good material, but the entirety of one's life work to be impeccable and flawless and great? That's a notion of which I am highly skeptical, and it takes a lot of retroactive glorification, and a lot of assuming it is great beforehand, or somethi Is it possible that the complete works of anybody ever are going to be amazing? That every product they have assembled - finished or not - when compiled, will be wall-to-wall (and without exaggeration) amazing? It's improbable enough to write one item of good material, but the entirety of one's life work to be impeccable and flawless and great? That's a notion of which I am highly skeptical, and it takes a lot of retroactive glorification, and a lot of assuming it is great beforehand, or something, to convince people of something so improbable. Fact of the matter is, Kafka is - like all the best writers - responsible for a few great works, and a few good works, and a few okay works, and a few bad ones. That's just the nature of the beast, for everybody. It's not a crime to be the greatest short story writer of all time and also happen to write something inessential. It's simple, really. The complete works of anybody-anywhere will be inconsistent, and Kafka is no exception. As is the problem with me and just about every complete or collected set of fictions, the quality of each work varies. Most of the time the process of selection allows the separation of wheat from chaff, but here the chaff is jammed in for posterity's sake, I suppose. But why? There are some hard-line assessments I am willing to take here; namely that the three big ones in this collection - "The Metamorphosis," "In the Penal Colony," and "A Hunger Artist" - are truly amazing stories; "The Great Wall of China" and "The Burrow" are, I would say, under-appreciated masterpieces as well; and the closer - "On Parables" - is a tight gem of short-short fiction. There are examples of stories worth your time, and plenty of examples of stories that are not so much. Updike is right: the first two are abysmal. Doesn't mean he's not a great writer; it just means he's a human being. Perhaps complete collections are for completionists only; in my experience, they seem to discredit the writer in a weird way, or diminish the stature they have accrued - and deserved, more often than not - for their more glorious works. So my completely unsatisfying advice here is to read the good ones and skip the rest. That's what you'll want to have done, anyhow, and yet there's no way to tell which are which. Surprise, surprise, we're all doomed from the start.

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