Friday, 21 September 2012
Kafka: Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
I won't say any more about the story itself but I suggest you join me in reading it in silent tribute tomorrow night.
Just now there is a little flurry of correspondence in the Times Literary Supplement following a review by Gabriel Josipovici of some recent books on Kafka in which Josipovici expressed some discontent (I oversimplify his argument) with critics who think they have finally captured Kafka's meaning. I have some sympathy with him. Kafka's greatness is partly due to the fact that we cannot neatly sum up what he was "saying". The mystery, the never quite knowing, is what constitutes the peculiar appeal of his writing. I have written a biography of Kafka and you can order it by clicking on the dreaded Amazon box to the right of this column but, in truth, biography can point to certain correspondences in the story with Kafka's life and can contextualise it usefully but it cannot explain its magic. Reading it to his sister when it was still fresh she said that the house in the story was like theirs: "I said: How? In that case, then, Father would have to be living in the toilet."
Once again Kafka has the last word.