Tag: Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka’s The Trial and James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake arrived in English at almost the same time in the late 1930s,* two strange masterpieces without peer except for each other. They differ greatly in style but devote themselves conspicuously to the same agenda: the prosecution of their central characters in the surreal court of conscience … Read More
Irish playwright Seán O’Casey called him “the jesting poet with a radiant star in his coxcomb.” Eugene O’Neill asked him to name his children. James Joyce asked him to complete ‘Finnegans Wake’ should Joyce himself go blind. He published plays, novels, stories, and poems, including a series of them in The New Yorker in 1929, … Read More
George Orwell’s famous dystopian novel 1984 could be the best prose ever written in the science fiction genre. Its anti-fascist themes remain relevant too. This description of an overzealous patriot beset by “war hysteria” may sound familiar to anyone who’s watched Bill O’Reilly on Fox News: “a credulous and ignorant fanatic whose prevailing moods are … Read More
The middle of summer — July — if you walk west on Montague Street toward the harbor at around 6:30 in the evening, carrying your bag of black plums, the water is a gigantic cauldron of fire that sets upon every head a backlighting halo. It’s like something out of On Golden Pond except that … Read More
No one but Jack London, perhaps, has ever written so convincingly from a dog’s point of view as has Beverly Cleary in Ribsy. Like most dogs, Ribsy seems charmingly brain damaged. His loyalties are permanent but also have a happy-go-lucky fluidity that embraces many; he forgets to be ashamed for very long; and forgets discouragement. … Read More
Is “Ellis Island,” the titular novella in this story collection, the best thing written on the American dream since the Declaration of Independence?
In 1981, when this book came out, The New York Times’s Anatole Broyard said of Helprin, “Nothing is familiar in his stories: he is interested only in the fabulous, the borderline between perception … Read More
My blog this week, on Nietzsche, savagery, self-destruction, Lake Sils, Anne Frank, and stones in umbrellas, appears here, at writershouses.com. This is one of my best essays, on one of the best essayists of all time.
Kafka is probably the funniest writer I’ve ever read. Partly the world of paranoid fantasy he depicts is just so familiar to me. (What? Is there something wrong with that? Why are you judging me?) I have laughed till I was in tears reading Kafka, and supposedly Kafka himself, his friend Max Brod, and others of … Read More
On September 22, 1912, Franz Kafka stayed up all night writing a highly autobiographical, somewhat fantastical, short story called “The Judgment.” Twelve years later he was dead. He had published little, but what he’d written in that decade—including “In the Penal Colony,” “The Metamorphosis,” and The Trial—was a thunderbolt staked in the heart of literature … Read More
Hobbes reminds me, in a good way, of the ape who learned to act like a human being in Kafka’s hilarious short story, “A Report to an Academy.” The Kafka story begins:
Honored members of the Academy! You have done me the honor of inviting me to give your Academy an account of the life I … Read More