Monday, February 11, 2013

Four Stories by Kafka

On his deathbead, Kafka implored his friend, Max Brod, to burn all of his incomplete manuscripts. Alas, he failed to do so, and thus preserved many of his unfinished novels. Unfortunately, the quality of these pales in comparison to his stories.

In this collection, all the stories were published or prepared for publication during Kafka's lifetime. They, like the Metamorphosis are well done, coherent works. The posthumous novels (The Castle, Amerika and The Trial) all have their moments, but are just not as good as his "completed" works.

The four stories in this collection have the Kafka touch of having a bit of "absurdity" in the realm of commonality.

"A Hunger Artist" tells the story of an artist that performs fasting feets. He is upset that he must stop after 40 days, but is resigned to his lot. Suddenly, the market for hunger artists dies off and he is relegated to a cage in the circus. He eventually completes a record fast, but nobody notices.

"A Report to a Academy" is told in the first person by an ape who "became human". He realized that by adopting man's vices he can be seen as a man and achieve greater freedom.

"A Country Doctor" is about a doctor who's horse dies. A groom appears in the pigsty with horses that bring him instantly to a boys house. There the people treat a doctor as a near-religious figure expecting him either to cause the boy to live or be killed himself. He escapes, but the horses are now in no hurry.

"A Little Woman" is the story of a relationship that may exist or may not.

A multitude of meanings could be read in to each of the stories. However, the beauty is that they can also be taken at face value as a fun, enjoyable story.

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