Monday, October 20, 2008


Kafka's sense of strangeness to self is continuously displayed in various fictional appearances—in the bachelor; “the Russian friend” of The Judgment; the unholy, monstrous insect body; an outlandish homeland, America; the court; the burrow; "the false hands" that led him astray; the "spirits" that twist his words. What threads these modalities together is the "eccentricity" of the writer’s being. The trajectory of Kafka’s works is a history of approaches, more or less effective, to the elusive otherness of writing.
Stanley Corngold in the introduction to Franz Kafka: The Office Writings published this week.
In this book about Kafka’s work as a lawyer and bureaucrat, we are concerned with the way in which Kafka’s sense of his fate as a writer is implicated in his work life—the way in which his Beamtensein, his "official" being, is involved in his Schriftstellersein, his writerly being.
Expect in-depth coverage and debate in the mainstream press about the dastardly suppression until now of "articles on workmen's compensation and workplace safety; appeals for the founding of a psychiatric hospital for shell-shocked veterans; and letters arguing relentlessly for a salary adequate to his merit."

Mmm, articles.

1 comment:

  1. This book is a translation of the office writings or Amtliche Schriften first published a quarter of a century ago in 1984. It has been used as a source by biographers and critics ever since so we know all about his working days and finely crafted office papers on industrial machinery and its hazards etc etc. But good to have it in English. But your wry coda is fully justified!!



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