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

Sunday, November 3, 2013

"The Judgement" by Franz Kafka 1912

I am very happy to be once again participating in German Literature Month.   Last year I read and posted on short stories by a number of Romantic Era German writers.  In the link below you will find lots of great reading ideas.  Caroline and Lizzy's only real rule is the work must be originally written in German.

The hosts are hoping this year to have an even balance of male to female authors as in prior years it had been very male author dominated. They have a schedule (but you are free to post on  any German work).  Here is the official announcement:

Official Annoucement from The Host of German Literature Month
Caroline and I are delighted to be making this announcement and we hope you’re happy to hear it. The tweets of others as early as January of this year looking forward to German Literature Month convinced us it just had to happen. And so your wishes have come true. This time, however, we are issuing a challenge.
GLM I and II were resounding successes and we want GLM III to follow suit. One thing has concerned us though. Why were the lady writers so grossly under-represented? Only 22% of the authors read in GLM I, reducing to 19% in GLM II, were female. We want to redress that balance. Now we’re not going all Orange prize on you. We don’t want to exclude the great male authors in German(-language) literature. But we are structuring the month so that there are times to focus in on the ladies.
We would, therefore, like the structure of German Literature Month III to look like this.
Week 1: 1-7.11 Ladies Week
Week 2: 8-14.11 Gents Week
Week 3: 15-21.11 Ladies Week
Week 4: 22-28.11 Gents Week
Weekend 29-30.11 Read as you please
Read anything you want: any format, any genre. As long as the works were originally written in German and are reviewed during November, they count for GLM III. The ideal female:male author ratio at the end of the month would be 50:50.
We will also have two readalongs:
7.11 Lizzy will lead a discussion of a title to be determined by public vote. A post will follow shortly with voting options. In the meantime if there’s a title you wish to suggest, written by a female (it will be ladies’ week after all), please leave a comment.
29.11 Caroline will lead a War and Literature discussion of Hans Keilson’s Death of the Adversary.
This year I hope to read in addition to The Tin Drum-
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque -completed 
The Death of Virgil by Herman Broch
Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald.
I have a collection of old translations of Romantic Era Germsn short stories and I may read more of them.    I will also look to see what is in the forthcoming Best European Fiction 2014 Anthology. I will also look at German language Swiss and Austrian stories I have in anthologies on my IPad from prior years of this series.  I am eagerly looking forward to reading the posts the event will generate and expanding my limited knowledge of German literature.  I urge my readers to consider participating. 

Fiction world wide, especially in Europe, was changed forever by the short stories and unfinished novels of Franz Kafka.  I have posted on several of them.  There is no more important short story than "The Metamorphesis".  I am very find myself of the amazing story, "The Penal Colony".  The core of Kafka's work is a few of his short stories, among them "The Judgement".  As one can imagine, it is a strange story open to many readings.   There are two on stage characters, a man and his elderly father.  The son is composing a letter to his friend that moved to Russia years ago to start a business.  It was successful at first but now the friend struggles, remains a bachelor isolated in a foreign country.  He has lost all his roots in his birth country and never formed them in Russia.  The son just sends him idol gossip. The father, perhaps he is in the opening stages of Alzheimer's Disease, tells him that he has also been writing the friend while simultaneously suggesting the friend does not exist.  

This is a very packed brief story.  I read some accounts of the meaning of the story.  Most see it as an allegorical story about the nature of judgement interpreted theologically.  I see this.  I prefer to see it as a story of a man driven to despair by his relationship with his father who is a master of "the guilt trip".

You can easily find this story online.   

Franz Kafka (German pronunciation: [ˈfʀants ˈkafka]) was one of the major fiction writers of the 20th century. He was born to a middle-class German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, Bohemia (presently the Czech Republic), Austria–Hungary. His unique body of writing—much of which is incomplete and which was mainly published posthumously—is considered to be among the most influential in Western literature.

His stories include The Metamorphosis (1912) and In the Penal Colony (1914), while his novels are The Trial (1925), The Castle (1926) and Amerika (1927).

Kafka learned German as his first language, but he was also fluent in Czech. Later, Kafka acquired some knowledge of French language and culture; one of his favorite authors was Flaubert.  From Goodreads.  


Priya said...

Das Urteil, the Judgment was the first Kafka story I attempted to read in German and I was exhausted by the end. The conversations between the father and son were so utterly unreal! When I re-read the story later in English, I was able to appreciate the message much better. It is interesting to know that one his favourite authors was Flaubert, I had no idea!

Jo @ Booklover Book Reviews said...

I still haven't read any of Kafka's works but my participation in German Lit Month has inspired me to remedy that. So I've just borrowed from my library The Trial in audio...

Mel u said...

Priya, it is a work open to many readings, thanks for your comment

Jo-I have not read his novels as he never completed them. I would suggest you start with his most famous story "The Metamorphisis" -Thanks for your comment