Speaking of Kafka

Lately, I’ve been curious about the works of Haruki Murakami. One of his novels is titled, “Kafka on The Shore”, which in turn made me curious about the works of Franz Kafka. I decided that I needed to read Kafka before Murakami in order to fully appreciate Murakami’s work. Well, that was the general idea.

So far, I’ve read two of Kafka’s stories, “The Metamorphosis” and “The Judgement”.

In “The Metamorphosis” traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to find that he has somehow transformed into a disgusting bug-like creature. He does that best one could possibly do in such a predicament and tries to adjust to his new life as the repellent creature he has become. Gregor, who was the proud pillar of his family, has now become a horrifying burden and the family’s darkest secret. It does not end well for Gregor.

The Judgement is the story of a father and son who find themselves at odds with each other. The son, one Georg Bendemann has just finished writing a letter to a friend in Russia. The friend seems to be ailing and his business is failing. Georg, knowing this, must now write to inform his friend of having become happily engaged to Frieda Bradenfeld.

Having finished writing the letter, Georg stops by his father’s room to check in on him. An argument ensues. The father’s final words to Georg are to condemn his son to death by drowning. Georg runs out of the house, finds a bridges and launches himself over the side and—I imagine—plunges to his death.

Yes, “The Judgement” is a bit of a head scratcher but the ending certainly leaves a lasting impression, doesn’t it?

The thing is, I wouldn’t exactly call Kafka’s works riveting. It’s hard to explain. His words sort of creep up on you and sort of slap you in the face with stark revelations about human nature, our cruelty and foibles.

I find Kafka’s writing depressing yet strangely fascinating. I feel strangely conflicted when I consider reading his next work on my list, “In the Penal Colony”. I don’t quite know what to expect, or rather I expect it to be quite like a train wreck I can’t look away from but my curiosity is definitely piqued.

While sitting here obsessing over Kafka’s writing, I still haven’t forgotten that my original intent was to read Haruki Murakami’s work. So much to read, so little time. What a fantastic problem to have!

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