Franz Kafka was born in Prague on July 3, 1883 — 129 years ago today.
The first book from Kafka that I read was The Metamorphosis and I loved it greatly, however at the time I was not aware of the main theme behind most of his writings: “The Absurd.” Then I watch the movie The Trial based on the book by the same name of Kafka, and then it click. Te trial is a frightening example of the absurdity of the human condition.
Here are some passages from Camus Essay “Hope and the absurd in the Work of Franz Kafka”
The whole art of Kafka consists in forcing the reader to reread. His endings, or his absence of endings, suggest explanations which, however, are not revealed in clear language but, before they seem justified, require that the story be reread from another point of view. This is what the author wanted.
But it would be wrong to try to interpret everything in Kafka in detail. Nothing is harder to understand than a symbolic work. A symbol always transcend the one who makes use of it and makes him say in reality more than he is aware of expressing.
There is in the human condition a basic absurdity as well as implacable nobility.
In The Trial, Joseph K. is accused. But he doesn’t know of what. He is doubtless eager to defend himself, but he doesn’t know why. The lawyers find his case difficult. Meanwhile, he does not neglect to love, to eat, or to read his paper. Then hi is judged. But the courtroom is very dark. He doesn’t understand much. He merely assumes that he is condemned, but to what he barely wonders. At times he suspects just the same, and he continues living. Some time later two well-dressed and polite gentlemen come to get him and invite him to follow them. Most courteously they lead him into a wretched suburb, put his head on a stone, and slit his throat. Before dying the condemned man says merely: “Like a dog.”
Camus is primarily drawn to Kafka’s works because of the lucidity with which they present the fundamental dilemma that for him defines absurd reasoning. On the one hand, Camus says we hope to find some meaning—or God, or order, or explanation—in the universe, and on the other hand, we are faced with a senseless multiplicity of things that do not organize themselves in any way that promises an answer. (Q)
I’m going to leave you with a short animated film by director Piotr Dumala entitled “Franz Kafka” that resembles very well the suffocating worlds created by Kafka in his writings.