December 28, 2008 |
It's always tricky when an author's name becomes an adjective. Orwellian, Machiavellian, Faulknerian -- these designations make it hard to see a writer on his or her own terms. This is perhaps most true of Franz Kafka, whose sobriquet, Kafkaesque, has become a catchall for the weird and inexplicable. Yet 84 years after his death of tuberculosis at age 40, Kafka continues to defy such simplifications, to force us to consider him anew.
November 27, 2005 |
WHEN Franz Kafka's "The Trial" appeared posthumously in the 1920s, the German satirist and critic Kurt Tucholsky remarked that most books let a reader know what he is dealing with early on, but "[h]ere you know nothing, you grope in the dark. What is this? Who is that?" In the course of Reiner Stach's "Kafka: The Decisive Years" -- at almost 600 pages it is the first volume of what clearly will be a massive trilogy -- readers may find themselves in a similar perplexity.
February 25, 2005 |
One wonders how Franz Kafka, so famously shaken by the 20th century rift between bureaucracy and individuality that his last wish was for his unpublished writings to be burned, would deal with the post-millennial condition. That notion drives "Kafka Thing" at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble. This ambient sampler of short works by the oracle of alienation aims to relocate Kafka's voice through determined deconstruction.
January 16, 2005 |
Since his death from tuberculosis at 40 in 1924, Franz Kafka has become a human Rorschach blot. Critics have read him as everything from the exemplar of an array of neuroses to the precursor of millions of victims of modern totalitarianism. Likewise, writers of fiction have found Kafka irresistible. An anthology's worth of novelists, including Philip Roth, Nadine Gordimer, Guy Davenport and Jonathan Lethem, have used the sage of Prague as a jumping-off point for stories.
November 13, 2002 |
In the preface to his latest book, "The Air Show at Brescia, 1909," author Peter Demetz states matter-of-factly, "I think of the present volume as an 'entertainment,' to borrow Graham Greene's term, not as a scholarly monograph, which I gladly leave to somebody else." Undoubtedly Demetz -- professor emeritus of German and comparative literature at Yale University -- could have produced that scholarly text himself.
June 9, 2002 |
Christians and Jews have fantasies about each other. Though the fantasies (or assumptions, you might say) that Christians have about Jews have been much studied because of their often dire and deadly consequences, Jewish fantasies about Christians are less well-studied, though they weave through the novels and stories of such writers as Philip Roth and Bernard Malamud and through the films of Woody Allen.