Franz Kafka

I've decided to do a presentation on the author Franz Kafka for my class at Hamline. Before I made this decision, I'd only read The Castle. Now I'm trying to read almost everything else he did, which is hard to stomach not because of the actual writing (he actually writes quite clearly) but because the whole time you read Kafka you keep worrying that something bad is going to happen to the main character, and then sooner or later something bad does happen.

What about Franz Kafka himself?

"Kafka recognized that he had to torture himself with his failure before he could achieve something valuable. Achievement depended on anguish, anxiety, almost on literal self-destruction. He needed uncertainty, that dip into the valley of doubt and hell, in order to emerge with renewed strength....in all else, familial matters, personal relationships to women, even ordinary social intercourse, he held himself apart. He emphazied pain, inability, uncertainty, but did so to convince himself that while he was a failure of a man he was saving himself for a higher calling....'Sisyphus was a bachelor.' This for Kafka was the higest praise."

-"Franz Kafka: Representative Man" by Frederick Karl

Now there's one intense writer. Would you go down such a path to achieve one single dream, no matter how great that one dream was? Will Blogagaard one day wake up to find he has become an unfamous, unpublished version of Kafka?

Tune in to find out!

24 comments:

Kierkagard said...

If you don't succeed, it's because you didn't torture yourself enough. Watch more TV.

Blogagaard said...

Oh my God! Kierkagard! The lesser known, lesser vowled Gaard!

Something dirty said...

better than waking up as a cockroach, am I right? Cheap Kafka reference, I know.

David, that's how I feel when I read those stories, a sinking feeling.

Something dirty said...

...that something bad is going to happen, and he makes you sympathize with them.

Kelly said...

Another author whose life's work would have been eliminated by Prozac.

Tandy Caide, C.P.A. said...

Mr. Oppegaard. I recently wrote about my trip to Dubuque and I thought you might enjoy reading it. You can visit my blog to learn about it.

Everyone smokes where I live, like your characters do. And people where Iive also eat in restaurants similar to the one you describe in your novel.

Thank you. I enjoy your work.

Tandy Caide, CPA

Kelly said...

Mr. Oppegaard! See? The tie works.

Clurg said...

I may be violating a blogger length rule. But we're talking Nabokov on Kafka here. I made some edits. Enjoy!

"Next question: what insect? Commentators say cockroach, which of course does not make sense. A cockroach is an insect that is flat in shape with large legs, and Gregor is anything but flat: he is convex on both sides, belly and back, and his legs are small. He approaches a cockroach in only one respect: his coloration is brown. That is all. Apart from this he has a tremendous convex belly divided into segments and a hard rounded back suggestive of wing cases. In beetles these cases conceal flimsy little wings that can be expanded and then may carry the beetle for miles and miles in a blundering flight. Curiously enough, Gregor the beetle never found out that he had wings under the hard covering of his back. (This is a very nice observation on my part to be treasured all your lives. Some Gregors, some Joes and Janes, do not know that they have wings.) Further, he has strong mandibles. He uses these organs to turn the key in a lock while standing erect on his hind legs, on his third pair of legs (a strong little pair), and this gives us the length of his body, which is about three feet long. In the course of the story he gets gradually accustomed to using his new appendages—his feet, his feelers. This brown, convex, dog-sized beetle is very broad.

In the original German text the old charwoman calls him Mistkäfer, a "dung beetle." It is obvious that the good woman is adding the epithet only to be friendly. He is not, technically, a dung beetle. He is merely a big beetle. (I must add that neither Gregor nor Kafka saw that beetle any too clearly.)"

Something dirty said...

David, do you smoke? I quit smoking, often.
Kelly, I don't know about that, have you read/heard of this book, Against Depression by Peter Kramer? I've read a little bit about it online.

Blogagaard said...

Sd, you shouldn't smoke. Talk about unsexy. I'm sorry, maybe it's sexy with you, and only you. I smoke only once a year, with Captain Geoff during Hamline's summer writing workshop drinking bonanza down at St. Olaf in Northfield. I do not consider myself sexy, though women love to hug me. Kafka, now, there was a sexy dude, with jug ears made for grabbing. Ha ha. How lewd I am.

Blogagaard said...

Thank you, Tandy! I'm glad you're back! I'll link you up again!

Blogagaard said...

Checkov was right, Clurg. The translation I have only refers to him as "vermin", never a cockroach. The insect Samsa becomes is really not any bug that exists, and Kafka meant it that way.

Something dirty said...

I don't smoke anymore, it's so not hot. Can you imagine having sex with Kafka? Not sure, but I think he'd keep talking about his dad the whole time, and his mom would open the door every 5 minutes to call you a whore.

Blogagaard said...

Kafka sort of reminds me of a darker Woody Allen.

Clurg said...

YEs. I need to reread again before I'm solid on this stuff, but that description is doing something for me.

I sit and giggle when I read this stuff. I don't know--it's fun.

Blogagaard said...

Kafka is fun. He is actually a really funny writer, if you can relax. I'll do a couple more Kafka post before Christmas, that holiday of the insane, is over.

Blogagaard said...

Alright, peeps. Let's pump this comment list up to tweny! Write about anything!

Apparition Jones said...

Ain’t no doubt about it, we were doubly blessed. Cause we were barely seventeen and we were barely dressed.

Clurg said...

Just keep thinking "Buster Keaton" and Beckett will give you bellylaughs.

Something similar would work with Kafka. Weng Weng?

Kierkegaard said...

Oh what the heck. I'll make 20. And I spelled my name wrong before.

There is nothing you can think when reading my work to make it fun, except perhaps to imagine Regine Olsen in her bloomers. That always did it for me.

Blogagaard said...

thanks, kierkegaard. I knew we could do it!

kierkegaard said...

I take no pleasure in it.

Kelly said...

I just wanted to come back and comment in this thread again. Ah! Those were the good times.

Blogagaard said...

Kelly, you pushed us over the edge here at Blogagaard. We cannot but thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving, Turkey Head.

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