I am a cage, in search of a bird.
– Franz Kafka
Of late, I read one of the most influential, talked about writers of twentieth century – Franz Kafka! Now, the most important (this importance is solely for my personal reasons) and interesting fact about Kafka that I became aware of the moment I started reading his introduction was his date of birth, which is same as mine; and well, I got too excited about it and told about it to my dad, who laughed at first, and added, ‘When you’ll read him, you will realize how fundamentally different you both are.’ And this was just another push to me to start reading Kafka.
Kafka is primarily known for his absurd, surreal, or what can be generalized as ‘weird’ stories with kooky characters and concepts. There’s a reason why Kafkaesque term was coined. While browsing and shuffling around thousands (this number is for real, not exaggerating) of books in a bookstore, this book –The Complete Short Stories by Franz Kafka, caught my attention. I had heard his name but never researched about it and getting a book with almost a hundred of short stories at a reasonable price got me into its charm and that is how I got into buying it.
Enough of how and why this book! As most of you must know that I don’t write or talk about every other book that I read, here on my blog. Only if there is something unique or weird that I share an article here. So, if it’s Kafka, it’s got his reasons. (But if you’re interested, we can be friends on Goodreads. Goodreads is where I write my review for every book that I read.)
‘The Metamorphosis’, perhaps, Kafka’s most famous work, and certainly the longest of his short stories, was my second read (which I loved, by the way) in Kafka’s short story collections after ‘The Judgment.’ A human turned into a giant cockroach woke up in the morning- was the start of ‘The Metamorphosis’. Now, if I tell you a story about a human who, inexplicably, turned into a giant insect when he/she woke up in the morning after a night’s sleep and stayed the same for some years and his/her family freaked out but not as any family in real would have, would I lose my credibility as a writer? Kafka did it. And no, he didn’t lose any credibility of his as a writer; not at least for me.
So what if his ‘The Metamorphosis’ didn’t have the traditional character of human as the protagonist? So what if the protagonist was a human-turned-insect instead? How does it matter if the plight of a human, emotions of a man, feelings of a son and a brother are explained through the character of an insect and you still are thrown off guard and made to contemplate over human nature, over human relationships? In fact, doesn’t such a concept show the extension of one’s imagination, one’s creativity? For me ‘The Metamorphosis’ is the work of an utterly imaginative and creative person. If the story had failed in making me contemplate at its end then I’d have considered it a work worked upon too hard. But, fortunately, reading the not-so-traditional story paid off my time.
If not for imagination, if not for creativity what is there in writing? If an apple always has to stay an apple, if a human always has to stay a human then what new and different would we ever be able to read? Not am I at all trying to imply to always turn a human into an insect or vice-versa to make a better story but there should never be any restriction in keeping the things the way they always have been. Traditional is safe, but traditional is not all. Rational is logical, but irrationality has its own logic too.
After having been into writing for some time now, I’ve come to realize and believe that if the story doesn’t reflect an intimate piece of its writer somewhere in, at least, one sentence, or one character, or one prose, all writings and all stories would have been alike. There wouldn’t have been an “Idle Muser” but just a human trying to replicate another human.
Kafka had had a rough childhood, a not-so-plain young life and so the journey stayed the same in his adulthood, which he lived up to only 40 odd years, as well. Right now, I’m down his ten short stories (including all his much talked about work) and each of it, I feel, has a part of Kafka in it. A person’s life’s experiences mold his/her writings in such ways that, now I agree, written pieces can reveal a lot about their writers or about a world, people, places that these writers wish had either existed or never had. Some might disagree but if it’s contemplated over, deeply, thoroughly, you’d see what I’m talking about. (Because I, initially, was one of these, one of who wouldn’t believe what I’ve stated above.)
As for book, due to other (self-self) reading commitments I have put this book onto hold and would restart it sometime in future.
So, if next time you see a man turning into an insect overnight, don’t freak out. Perhaps, the insect, no matter how much irrational it seems, is the symbolism of something crucial.
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
– Franz Kafka
Have you ever read Kafka? Or anyone who is considered as weird as Kafka or, maybe, more than him? Do share your views and reviews.
IF YOU ARE A FIRST-TIME VISITOR OF MY BLOG, DO REFER ‘First-Timers’. IT WOULD HELP YOU IN EXPLORING THE PLACE.
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