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FRANZ KAFKA – THE SHORTER STORIES in THE COMPLETE SHORT STORIES. 1999 Vintage Classics  

 

My second review selection from this deliciously strange author’s short story collection. First Sorrow tells of a trapeze artist who doesn’t like to come down from his trapeze. He has his food sent up and virtually lives there, perfecting his act. Only if the circus is in transit does he have to come down, and he is deeply distressed to do that. One day he cries about only being able to be on one trapeze at a time. A Little Fable is Kafka at his most Aesopian. A depressive Mouse tells a cat how inevitable it is that he must run from the cat into a mousetrap and die. The cat disagrees and eats the mouse. The Helmsman is a darker more mystical allegory. A helmsman is shocked by a strange mutiny. A stranger turns up and snatches the ship’s wheel from him. He calls to his shipmates for help, but they take the side of the new helmsman without explanation. This may be a story about how a God might feel when his congregation suddenly change their faiths. The Vulture is quite a horrible tale. A man is being pecked to death slowly by a vulture, from the feet up. He has convinced it to start here instead of with his face so he can live longer. He explains this torment to a hunter who rushes off to get a gun with which to kill the vulture. However the vulture now changes tactic and stuffs itself into the doomed man’s throat to finish him off quickly. The man takes comfort in the fact that the blood he loses drowns the vulture too. Poseidon speculates that the Sea-God never sees the sea, as he is too busy with the paperwork involved in ruling the oceans. He plans to peep at the water when the World ends. Fellowship is about five friends who refuse to let a sixth friend join in their fun. They have no reason to reject him, and fail to see why he keeps coming back each time they send him away. It isn’t always easy to understand Kafka’s tales, but they get inside your mind and haunt you forever. http://www.kafka-franz.com/ 

 

See also http://arthurchappell.me.uk/book.review-kafka-the.shorter.stories.1.htm and http://arthurchappell.me.uk/book.review-kafka-the.shorter.stories.3.htm

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