Only a poet could have written Auden’s The I Without a Self. His essay on Kafka displays a mastery of concision.
Yesterday I wrote of the importance of being in the right mood to read Kafka, and Plath. Emily and Michelle suggested that Woolf and Houellebecq need the same cautious approach.
Another of Auden’s notions played on my mind today: the creation of character.
Sometimes in real life one meets a character and thinks, “This man comes straight out of Shakespeare or Dickens,” but nobody ever met a Kafka character. On the other hand, one can have experiences which one recognises as Kafkaesque, while one would never call and experience of one’s own Dickensian or Shakespearian.
At a tangent, this also suggests Iris Murdoch’s contention, essentially correct, that she never created a memorable character.
We’ve just started a site encouraging users to share their interpretations of some of Kafkas stories, alongside new translations – would be really interesting to hear your view, provided your in the mood to read the story 🙂