Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, September 19, 2013

" A Report to an Academy" by Franz Kafka (1917)

Recently I read a very interesting article by Tessa Hadley, author of Married Love (a highly regarded collection of short stories)  in the Manchester Guardian in which she listed ten of her favorite short stories.   The first story she mentioned was "The Dead" by James Joyce followed by Anton Chekhov's devastating "Ward Six" about life in a late Czarist era mental hospital.  Most of the stories I have read.   One I had not was "A Report to an Academy" by Franz Kafka.   

I have posted on several of Kafka's works.   No one would say they are light reads by any standard.   The major short stories of Kafka are must readings for anyone seeking to understand modern literary, especially European,  sensibilities.  Given a full focus and respect, his works are immensely rewarding.   

I hope you will read this story (it is about five pages and a translation is in the pubic domain) so I will just post briefly on it more to help me recall it in the future.   The story is told in a very elegant and sophisticated fashion by an ape, speaking to an academy of highly learned members about his conversion from wild ape to a "civilized" one.  We learn of his horrific capture in the jungle and his caged shipboard return to Europe.   We learn of the process where he became less ape like and more human.  We sense deeply buried his self loathing.   Underlying the story is a deep contempt for what passes for humanity.   

Mel u

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