Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Monolithic Unnamable

The Unnamable strikes the reader as a stream-of-consciousness momolith, impervioous to attempts to carve it up into digestible pieces. I've always imagined that there is a way to approach the text; I just need to find it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Unnamable

I know this is supposed to be a Kafka blog, but I think I might
do a few posts on Samuel Beckett's The Unnamable.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Burrow

Are there any new translations of "Der Bau"? I haven't been able to find any.
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Woman, Creature, or Slut?

What the heck does Frauenzimmers mean? The epithet that Olga hurls at Frieda at the end of chapter three sounds something like "Woman's Room," which sounds ridiculous. Underwood goes for "slut," which sounds a little harsh. The Muirs go with "creature," interesting. And Harman sticks with "woman." Since Harman has struck me as the most reliable so far, I'll go with him.'s a headscratcher.
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Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Assistants

"When Galater sent us to you-" "Galater?" asked K. "Yes, Galater," said Jeremias, "he was Klamm's substitute at the time. When he sent us to you, he said - I remember since that's what we're referring to-'You're being sent there as assisstants of the surveyor.' We said: 'But we don't know anything about that kind of work.' At that he said: 'That isn't so important; if it becomes necessary he will teach you. But it's important that you cheer him up a bit. From what I hear, he takes everything very seriously. He has come to the village and right away thinks this is some great event but in reality it's nothing at all. You should teach him that.'"

It's here, towards the end of the novel, that the true purpose of the assistants is spelled out for K. They've been sent as clowns to mock K.'s quest. Of course, Galater's reading is spot on - securing a position at the Castle is everything to K., and, as such, he comes to regard the assistants as malevolent jesters. No one seems to understand K.'s frustration with the assistants, not the Mayor, not Frieda, because like Galater, they see his goal as "...nothing at all." And now K. has discovered that the very institution that holds all the keys to his success is only interested in mocking him and his ambitions.

Monday, July 5, 2010

No one turns into a bug

In the previous post I referenced the dream logic of The Castle and certainly the author of The Metamorphosis is known for his surreal stories. But no one turns into a bug, flies into the air like Superman, or meets long dead relatives. The Castle has similarities with Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, a play that can simultaneously read as realistic and highly symbolic. Nothing "surreal" happens in the play, it's only the audience's inability to understand the motivations of the characters that lends an air of the strange to the play. Perhaps it's a vulgar tragi-comedy, or perhaps it's a dream in which Teddy (the estranged brother from America) is allowed to unleash his darkest most paranoid fears about his family. Likewise, The Castle can be read as a parable, a parable in which there is no kingdom of heaven waiting for the one who "has ears to hear", but we are not compelled to read it that way. Perhaps the novel's meaning is there in the pages just like any other novel.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Die Gehilfen

"Who are you?" he asked, glancing from one to the other. "Your assistants," they answered. "Those are the assistants," said the landlord softly in confirmation. "What?" asked K., "you are the old assistants whom I told to join me and am expecting?" They said yes. "It's a good thing," asked K., after a little while, it's a good thing that you've come."

K.'s acceptance of the "new" assistants in the first chapter is one of the early signposts that tell us that The Castle is going to be a novel that plays by its own logic. K.'s reasons for accepting Arthur and Jeremiah are enigmatic to say the least. Do K's "old" assistants even exist? Since a second set of assistants never surface during the course of the novel, it's tempting to say no. It's possible that this incident is part of The Castle's dream logic. Often in dreams, we presented with new realities which we accept with ease. In this case, perhaps K., the protagonist who dreams the novel, is merely accepting the new reality presented to him. Part of him knows that it's a charade, but he's compelled to play along.