“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.”
Franz Kafka’s writings are not for the soft-hearted. Be it his most famous story, the Metamorphosis where a man wakes up one morning and finds he’s being transformed into a massive bug or be it the Penal Colony where an elaborate machine used for torture is introduced to the reader, one who reads Kafka has to be ready to plunge into his dark world.
Read for example this opening paragraph from the Metamorphosis to understand what I mean:-
“One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in his bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug. He lay on his armour-hard back and saw, as he lifted his head up a little, his brown, arched abdomen divided up into rigid bow-like sections. From this height the blanket, just about ready to slide off completely, could hardly stay in place. His numerous legs, pitifully thin in comparison to the rest of his circumference, flickered helplessly before his eyes.”
When I first started reading Kafka, I was taken aback by the unpleasant and unconformable details that he dwells into and found them a strain on my senses. Unless one is comfortable with the macabre and the morbid, his stories can leave you disturbed.
But even though I am not fond of reading ghastly stuff, I find it a challenge to read Kafka. But in between I also make it a point to I read some escapist stuff to get over the doom and gloom of his books.
Kafka was born to a German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, in the present day Czech Republic in July 1883.He is considered an iconic writer of the 20thCentury particularly because of the nature of his writings. The word Kafkaesque has become a part of the English language and is used to refer to the nightmarish situations that Kafka writes about. This itself underscores the lasting impression Kafka has left behind him.
I feel everyone should read at least one of Kafka’s stories because despite their dark nurture, they are also simply written and are a challenge to read.