Cecily's Reviews > The Stoker

The Stoker by Franz Kafka
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This is the first chapter of Kafka's novel that was originally called The Man Who Disappeared, but is usually titled Amerika (my review of that is older than this, so mirrors this here). The Stoker was published as a standalone short story and is also included in some copies of The Metamorphosis (see my review HERE).

It opens with a description of a city, country and continent Kafka never saw:
"New York looked at Karl with the hundred thousand windows of its skyscrapers."
The ship, too, has windows (of course), but there are more references to them than one might expect in such a few pages.

Karl is only 16 and has been sent, alone, to escape the shame of being seduced by an older maid who bore his son (sexually assertive women are common in Kafka's works - and there is a very flirty kitchen maid on the ship as well). He travelled steerage, where there is "a glimmer of murky light, long since stale from its use in the decks above", and is due to meet a slightly wealthier uncle in New York.

He disembarks, then remembers he has left something behind, so leaves his trunk on shore, in the care of an acquaintance, and becomes disoriented in the labyrinth of the ship. He is befriended by the ship's stoker who overs vague help, but really wants someone to listen to his grievances. During the voyage, Karl had protected his trunk obsessively, but now he seems not to care, and instead, goes to the captain, to petition for the stoker.

There is enough of a resolution that it works as a short story, and in some ways, it feels more like Kafka than the novel.

See my Kafka-related bookshelf for other works by and about Kafka HERE.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 1, 2014 – Finished Reading
December 8, 2014 – Shelved
December 8, 2014 – Shelved as: kafka-and-related

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