I’m reading, or attempting to read Kafka at the moment. He’s one of those authors you kind of have to have in your bookcase, like Homer. But, I’m unable to have a book in my house that hasn’t been read or explored by me (except Wilbur Smith, but that’s a story on its own – he irritates me).
So, delving into Kafka, I thought I’d be taken along a stream of intellect and unequalled consciousness, going deep into the human soul and mind. This, based on all the movies where intellectual gatherings never fail to quote or mention the man. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Kafka
According to those in the know (including Wikipedia), Kafka was a strong influence on the genre of existentialism – and that’s something I’m truly an expert in. My mind meanders through the endlessness of existence and its total lack of meaning and purpose regularly.
Anyway, back to the novel I’m reading – The Trial. It’s about a guy who has for some reason been arrested and is going to go on trial. It’s not your normal type of trial; everything is kept secret, even from the accused. But, this is not a book review of that sort, so you’ll have to find further explanation somewhere other than here.
What irks me about this famously revered author is that if he were to publish his book today, nobody in their right mind would take him on. Ok sure, perhaps his thinking was ahead of his time – I’ll give him that, and he certainly gives fodder for thought (especially when you stop to take a breather after a particularly lengthy paragraph). But his sentences are ludicrously long and he doesn’t even seem to remember precisely who his characters are (he calls his uncle both Karl and Albert in the book). It seems, too, that every time he meets a woman, she’s unaccountably attracted to him and wants to bed him right there (whether in the empty court room or in his lawyers lounge, and he willingly obliges, without any thought of morality or practicality it seems). His book is peppered with authoritarian figures who’s health is failing, and half-baked characters who are simply too stereotypical to be even fictional.
This particular copy I have includes a summary of the book, as well as notes to the text itself. Every page is dotted with little asterisks and you’re impelled to turn to the back of the book to find what the scholars are saying about certain words or phrases. Well, for one thing, it seems Kafka’s reference to a certain authority figure having bushy eyebrows is remarkable (maybe it’s obvious now because he first came up with the idea of bushy-browed dictator types?). Then, he often can’t really see well because of the smoke or fog or some such thing and this represents the confusing and unclear situation he’s found himself in. You need notes to tell you that sort of stuff?
I could go on and on, rising in indignation at why on earth this man is so often referred to. Perhaps I started with the wrong novel, perhaps I chose the wrong translation. Perhaps there’s a reason I’m not what you’d call an ‘academic’.
If you have any insights about Kafka and Kafkaesque-type scenarios, please let me know. Maybe a little education will assist me in finishing the slim novel I have waiting to join the ranks of Shakespeare, Homer (which I actually have read, and enjoyed – I didn’t just see the movie, although that was well worth it considering Brad Pitt’s state of undress) and the like.
For now, the book will remain outside of my esteemed bookcase. For now, I will live within a kafkaescape scene.