Nothing but Literature

As 2010 ended, with five glorious hours reading Kafka’s diaries on a 777 from Singapore, so shall 2011 begin. My Kafka immersion will continue well into the month, slowly digesting the diaries with a parallel reading of the short stories. Inevitably my reading will flow into the letters and notebooks.

It is almost unbearable, exquisitely so, to inhabit Kafka’s world as he struggles to conceive of his stories.

My job is unbearable to me because it conflicts with my only desire and my only calling, which is literature. Since I am nothing but literature and can and want to be nothing else, my job will never take possession of me, it may, however shatter me completely, and this is by no means a remote possibility.

Is there another artist that could make such a claim: I am nothing but literature, and for the reader to understand, to agree wholeheartedly. In Kafka this is no empty, pompous boast. It is clear he feels this pressure with every sinew of his existence.

5 thoughts on “Nothing but Literature

  1. >Happy New Year, Anthony, and what an interesting start you have planned reading-wise! It's been a while since I've read any Kafka, but I'd like to think I can make some more time for him at some point during the year. Cheers!

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  2. >What an interesting perspective. I wonder to what extent our occupations define us but never to the extent that an occupation outside of one might be unbearable. Looking forward to more of your Kafka journey since like Richard it has been a while since I read him. Happy New Year!

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  3. >Richard: Thank you and Happy New Year to you. I read some Kafka in my twenties but am getting so much from his diaries, reading them in parallel to his short stories is exquisite.

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  4. >Frances: Happy New Year! Beckett is the only other artist I cannot imagine occupying his time with anything but literature. Even Joyce had alternatives I suspect. In my own case, I have never, perhaps I should optimistically say yet, discovered a vocation. My occupation is rewarding on multiple levels, but not to the extent of Kafka's devotion.

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