I can't remember what show, but my husband was watching some show on TV and they mentioned Kafka or his works. The show mentioned (or maybe he lookedI can't remember what show, but my husband was watching some show on TV and they mentioned Kafka or his works. The show mentioned (or maybe he looked into it afterwards) that Kafka can be very depressing, but there is also a slight humor to a lot of his works and an art in them. My husband, from the TV show, thought he might appreciate this humor- despite the tragic/depressing parts and rented some from the library. I have made a goal to be more well-read and to be more rounded in my choice of literature. So I started reading them as well. Franz Kafka was a Jew in Germany, who had a hard life, from what I have found. He may have died before the Jews faced their biggest trials in WWII, but thinking about it, I'm sure their persecution didn't start then. Kafka may have faced poverty, ridicule, any number of things, but his works, even when depressing have value and have lessons that can be learned from them.
The Judgment: This first story I'm not sure if I understood the point of it. It seems two people are affected by a tragedy and one thinks he is the only one moving on, and becomes quite selfish. The other one takes advantage of the first's complete obliviousness to things not concerning himself and prepares for the ruin of the first. The part I don't get is the second says he loves the first and then commands the first to drown himself, and then the willingness of the first to do so. Maybe the first WAS so selfish that the humiliation of NOT being able to achieve everything he thought was too much to live with. Whatever the case, I did not like it very much.
The Metamorphosis: My husband tells me that Franz Kafka himself got tuberculosis, but in the end died of starvation. At times I feel this story has some semblance of an autobiography. I did find most of it amusing- even if just the way he described certain things. Within the first paragraphs of the story you find that he has been changed into some sort of beetle and is on its back. I can picture a bug on its back struggling to get back upright, and although it is sad, the way he describes it makes the picture in my head seem quite funny. There are many things in this book. The need to fit in, feelings of being outcast, feeling useless, other themes as well.
In the Penal Colony: This one I also liked. It's based around a torture device that is very inhumane. To me it emphasizes many things, including the right to a fair trial. The need to be innocent until proven guilty instead of guilty first. Considering Kafka was a Jew, I read this one and actually thought of Hitler and the concentration camps. I related Hitler to the Old Commandant. But Kafka died in 1924- before Hitler and his concentration camps and persecution of the Jews (though I assume there had been persecution before, though different). It also, to me, emphasizes the need for us to stand up for things we believe in, that we feel are right, no matter how we feel they may be received.
The Great Wall of China: This one is an essay that starts out about building the wall of China. Then in the middle it talks about the citizens of China in the southeast (I believe). Then comes back to the wall of China. It wasn't my favorite story, but was well done, in that a German is a Chinese man, and from what I know of its citizens, is pretty accurate. It reminded me that the wall may have been, not only to keep Mongols out, but foreign influences, that were considered an enemy to and threat to the Chinese culture. I did like a quote in it: "Try with all your might to comprehend the decrees of the high command, but only up to a certain point; then avoid further meditation. A very wise maxim, which moreover was elaborated in a parable that was later often quoted: Avoid further meditation, but not because it might be harmful; it is not at all certain that it would be harmful. What is harmful or not harmful has nothing to do with the question. Consider rather the river in spring. It rises until it grows mightier and nourishes more richly the soil on the long stretch of its banks, still maintaining its own course until it reaches the sea, where it is all the more welcome because it is a worthier ally.--Thus far may you urge your meditations on the decrees of the high command.--But after that the river overflows its banks, loses outline and shape, slows down the speed of its current, tries to ignore its destiny by forming little seas in the interior of the land, damages the fields and yet cannot maintain itself for long in its new expanse, but must run back between its banks again, must even dry up wretchedly in the hot season that presently follows.--Thus far may you not urge your meditations on the decrees of the high command." (p. 136-137) I am one to "over-meditate" something, and therefore, I'm not sure if I completely agree, but I do agree with the logic behind this quote. I'll have to think more on it.
A Country Doctor: In this story, a country doctor is trying to save one person, but no one is willing to help the doctor. And then he ends up with two people that need his help in two different places, he can't fully help either one and ends up sick himself. If we don't take care of ourselves, we can't help anyone. And the tragic-ness of not being able to be in two places at once. The need for others to sometimes help- especially to one who probably has helped us or our families at one point or another.
A Common Confusion: I liked this story, and I feel most people can relate. It has to do with missing someone or an opportunity. But it also talked about being so busy that we miss something and the importance to make time for the important things. Really short story (a page and a half?). It refers to the two main people as A and B and the two destinations as H and home. One quote: "At home he [A] learns that B had arrived quite early, immediately after A's departure, indeed that he had met A on the threshold and reminded him of his business; but A had replied that he had no time to spare, he must go at once."
The New Advocate: Another really short story. This one seems a bit philosophical. It seems reminiscent of the great days with Alexander the Great and one blazing a trail to India. And then seems to say, all we need now is people who study books (specifically law books here).
An Old Manuscript: His second story where he is now a Chinese citizen. This one in its capital outside the Emperor's palace. It talks about foreigners within the city and I actually like the last quote, as a summary of the story. ""What is going to happen?" we all ask ourselves. "How long can we endure this burden and torment? The Emperor's palace has drawn the nomads here but does not know how to drive them away again. The gate stays shut; the guards, who used to be always marching out and in with ceremony, keep close behind barred windows. It is left to us artisans and tradesmen to save our country; but we are not equal to such a task; nor have we ever claimed to be capable of it. This is a misunderstanding of some kind; and it will be the ruin of us.""
A Fratricide: I liked this short story about a murder. It talks about a person who watches the whole thing but doesn't do anything about it. It reminds me of our need to be involved in things sometimes. There was a story once in New York where a girl was being stabbed and killed and yelling for help, yet no one stopped to help. Some people stood watching, but no one lifted a finger. I once heard someone speculate that today with youtube and our cell phones, we might stand there and videotape the event, thinking maybe we'll be the first one to report it and get fame, but no one would lift a finger to actually help and intervene. If we were in that situation, would we try and prevent a crime? Would we even take the time to call the police so someone else can help?
A Report to an Academy: I really liked this story about an ape who becomes human. I mean he still has fur, but he overcomes his ape side and becomes civilized. This story analyzes, not freedom, but the need to have some direction to move. Somewhere to go, even if there is no freedom to choose which way to go, one direction to move is good. It talks about the need for motivation to move and I think gives a good example of overcoming adversity, trials, flaws in our own character. In this, the ape is not resentful, but he does not look at his act of being civilized as right. He does not feel other apes should seek to do the same, in fact he feels pity for one chimp, but for him, he felt it was necessary and he does not regret what he did.
I have now finished and will try to finish giving brief summaries of the last few stories.
The Hunter Gracchus: Starts out very descriptive, almost felt like the beginning of a novel. It was short and curious. I don't know if I understood the intended message, but it's about a hunter who befalls some tragedy and then is cursed to roam the earth on a boat. Never able to linger long, not able to receive help or eternal rest. I kinda liked it, but it definitely wasn't my favorite.
A Hunger Artist: This one has to do with a man who fasts for a living. I want to say that Kafka died of starvation, but I could be wrong. Anyways, there are times when he seems to glorify fasting or starvation. This seems like one of those times, except the character dies at the end, very frail and pitiful. He wants to make a new record for fasting and insists he can go "one more day" until by death he is stopped. It talks of very many things relating to fasting, but it seems to miss the point for me. I realize Kafka was a Jew- so he did not believe in Christ's teachings as fact, but to me Christ tells us what fasting should be when he talks about how hypocrites fast and make sure people know it and it is for the glory of men and not for God's help as it should be. (St. Matthew chapter 6). In conclusion, I think this story helps emphasize what I have noticed as a trend of Kafka's to focus on fasting and starvation, but it wasn't my favorite.
Investigations of a Dog: I thought this had way too many side notes and didn't make one clear point. It seemed to me that his main investigation has to do with, once again, starvation. The dog thought he saw food that didn't fall to the ground but followed him through the air and pursued him. So he decides that he must starve himself to see if food will come to him. But when he first noticed this phenomena he was not starving, so why he felt the need to starve himself to try his experiment is beyond me, besides the fact that Kafka was intrigued by starving and/or fasting. It is very philosophical in nature and doesn't really reach any conclusions. Luckily the dog does not die, he is too tempted by food and therefore his experiment failed.
The Burrow: I'll admit, I think I spent too much time while reading this trying to figure out which animal, precisely, was being depicted. It doesn't much matter though. It talks of a safety net. It talks of a treasured area, and getting distracted, not thinking things through, allowing danger to enter, and then becoming to scared to think through things logically. I can relate in many ways, looking back on this story and although I didn't like it much while reading it, I think I like it more when thinking about the message it was trying to convey.
Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk: This one insists that mice do not sing or like music, except for that which comes from Josephine. I kinda liked this one, though I'm not sure if I got the intended message. It talks of how she craves attention, wants to be listened to, feels her message is vital to all mice. It talks of how entranced all mice are with her voice, and spends a little bit of time going into how she may or may not make those sounds, that no other mouse can.
Overall I liked these stories. They weren't all intriguing, and so it wasn't the fastest read for me, but I feel there are good points in at least most of the stories, and good messages, even with the tragic, and sometimes weird endings....more
I liked this book. I'm not a huge fan of Shakespeare. I mean I like the stories, but poetry form isn't my favorite. I always am sure I'm skipping overI liked this book. I'm not a huge fan of Shakespeare. I mean I like the stories, but poetry form isn't my favorite. I always am sure I'm skipping over something in it, but at the same time don't care to analyze it further. With this fantasy book it addressed a few couples in love and some meddling fairies. I found it entertaining and that there were things that could be learned from it (which I guess is true for all of Shakespeare's other works which I have read)....more
Honestly, I was expecting to like this book more. I mean it was still intriguing like Nefertiti was and historical fiction, which I like. But it was mHonestly, I was expecting to like this book more. I mean it was still intriguing like Nefertiti was and historical fiction, which I like. But it was more graphic than I would've liked. I mean based on the content- there's competition for being the wife of Pharaoh and then becoming Chief Wife. But I didn't need to know that she was taught how to touch him sexually, and I didn't need as much info in those scenes. I've read one or two romance novels that are worse, but it still was more than I like.
Throughout the whole book I was kinda disgusted with the whole two wives thing. I mean, the one doesn't even love him in the book and is just plotting for more power for herself, and the husband still spends as much time with her as the other one who truly does love him. Though I guess we're supposed to like Nefertari more anyways. I didn't realize that there are remnants of poetry that Ramesses the Great wrote that show his love for her. And I was touched most at the end when reading through the notes, that although the book was fiction- their love in real life was not. ...more