Modern Fiction: Amerika, by Franz Kafka

Kafka writes dreams, which is why any attempt to describe the plot to a friend is bound to end in bitter frustration. To take a small example from Amerika: the hero, Karl Rossmann, has been invited to the country estate of a friend of his uncle’s, named Pollunder, so he can meet Mr Pollunder’s daughter, Klara. Karl wants to return to Manhattan. He is instructed to say goodbye to Klara, up in her bedroom. He is disinclined to do this since on their first meeting she overpowered him using some judo technique in her displeasure at his having wanted to see the room where he was to have spent the night. But he goes to say goodbye anyway, and he plays the piano for her. He hears applauding from the next room (via a hidden connecting door) and it turns out to be Mack, a friend of Karl’s, who is then introduced as Klara’s fiancée. Mr Pollunder’s friend, Mr Green, arrives with a letter which he was to give to Karl at the stroke of midnight. The letter is from Karl’s uncle, who announces that in visiting Mr Pollunder Karl has acted against the uncle’s wishes, and, therefore, Karl is disowned and banished forever. Mr Green returns to Karl his original suitcase and umbrella, as well as Karl’s cap, which Mr Green had stolen during dinner.

As far as reportage goes, this is an utter catastrophe. But when you actually read the Amerika, you are immersed in the dream and begin to accept the strange and inexorable march of events as though you yourself are the dreamer. And these events get at deep, hidden truths by some side entrance or hidden alley you never knew was there. Kafka is the ultimate prose poet.

When Kafka succumbed to tuberculosis at age 40 in 1924, he left instructions for his best friend, Max Brod: “Dearest Max, my last request: Everything I leave behind me…in the way of diaries, manuscripts, letters (my own and others’), sketches, and so on, [is] to be burned unread.” Fortunately, though it can’t have been easy, Max Brod ignored Kafka’s instructions. Otherwise, all three of Kafka’s novels – The Trial, The Castle, Amerika – would have been destroyed along with the balance of his short stories.

The writer Richard Howard chose a line from Amerika as an excellent description of the novel itself: “At the end of each flight of stairs, another would begin in a slightly different direction.” A constant, shifting anxiety is always being resolved in the most unusual way – by the introduction of a new and unrelated problem that makes the old one irrelevant.

This artform is unique: there is nothing like a Kafka story, just as there is nothing like a Joseph Cornell box. Cornell is the Kafka of the visual arts, who put dreams in boxes and is the only surrealist who can make pictures of the subconscious. Likewise, Kafka is the only writer who can make a story – a series of images – into a dreaming experience: Raskolnikov’s dreams in Crime and Punishment read like dreams. Kafka reads as though one is actually dreaming.

Intriguingness: 9/10

Prose: 9/10

Depth and beauty: 9/10

Overall Goodness Rating (OGR): 9/10

Amerika: The Man Who Disappeared.  Excellent new translation by Michael Hofmann.  New Directions Publishing Co, 2002, 217 pages.

569 thoughts on “Modern Fiction: Amerika, by Franz Kafka

  1. Pingback: is cialis generic
  2. Pingback: prices of cialis
  3. Pingback: buy cialis
  4. Pingback: Get viagra fast
  5. Pingback: Viagra medication
  6. Pingback: viagra usa
  7. Pingback: generic ventolin
  8. Pingback: tadalafil online
  9. Pingback: online viagra
  10. Pingback: ed meds online
  11. Pingback: canadian pharmacy
  12. Pingback: cialis online
  13. Pingback: buy levitra
  14. Pingback: vardenafil 20mg
  15. Pingback: buy levitra online
  16. Pingback: canada viagra
  17. Pingback: casino games
  18. Pingback: instant loans
  19. Pingback: viagra for sale
  20. Pingback: hot shot slots
  21. Pingback: Casinos 2020
  22. Pingback: cialis 5 mg
  23. Pingback: cialis to buy
  24. Pingback: cialis 5 mg
  25. Pingback: generic for cialis
  26. Pingback: Nike Outlet
  27. Pingback: viagra buy
  28. Pingback: sildenafil dosage
  29. Pingback: viagra buy
  30. Pingback: buy cialis online
  31. Pingback: liquid tadalafil
  32. Pingback: viagra
  33. Pingback: viagra generic
  34. Pingback: Basketball Jerseys
  35. Pingback: Yeezys
  36. Pingback: UGGS Outlet
  37. Pingback: Yeezy 350
  38. Pingback: Timberland UK
  39. Pingback: Yeezy
  40. Pingback: Adidas yeezy
  41. Pingback: UGG Outlet
  42. Pingback: Adidas Yeezy
  43. Pingback: Yeezy
  44. Pingback: cheap viagra
  45. Pingback: tadalafil bnf
  46. Pingback: Viagra 130mg price
  47. Pingback: generic viagra
  48. Pingback: buy generic viagra
  49. Pingback: otc viagra
  50. Pingback: rxtrustpharm
  51. Pingback: viagra cheap
  52. Pingback: buy sildenafil
  53. Pingback: otc viagra
  54. Pingback: buy viagra online
  55. Pingback: viagra
  56. Pingback:
  57. Pingback: order benicar 10mg
  58. Pingback: cialis in toronto
  59. Pingback: viagra
  60. Pingback: ceclor medication
  61. Pingback: best casino online
  62. Pingback: rxtrust pharm
  63. Pingback: casino online
  64. Pingback: rivers casino
  65. Pingback: slot machine
  66. Pingback: 5mg cialis
  67. Pingback: buy cialis canada
  68. Pingback: 5mg cialis
  69. Pingback: gap insurance
  70. Pingback: viagra india
  71. Pingback: fast payday loans
  72. Pingback: payday loans
  73. Pingback: installment loans
  74. Pingback: sildenafil online
  75. Pingback: payday loans in ga
  76. Pingback: reddit viagra
  77. Pingback: tadalafil 20mg
  78. Pingback: sildenafil 20mg
  79. Pingback: viagra purchase
  80. Pingback: cbd oil for dogs
  81. Pingback: viagra india cheap
  82. Pingback: what is sildenafil
  83. Pingback: buy levitra 10 mg
  84. Pingback: buy viagra online
  85. Pingback: herbal viagra gnc
  86. Pingback: Order viagra usa
  87. Pingback: essay buy
  88. Pingback: atorvastatin tiny
  89. Pingback: online homework
  90. Pingback: cost of cleocin
  91. Pingback: ildenafil citrate
  92. Pingback: clomid 25 mg uk
  93. Pingback: cialis for sale
  94. Pingback: viagra generic
  95. Pingback: buy cialis canada
  96. Pingback: combivent uk
  97. Pingback: viagra and women
  98. Pingback: coreg pharmacy
  99. Pingback: viagra help
  100. Pingback: cialis online
  101. Pingback: Order viagra us
  102. Pingback: cheap cozaar
  103. Pingback: order dapsone caps
  104. Pingback: viagra for sale
  105. Pingback: buy depakote
  106. Pingback: Buy viagra us
  107. Pingback: elavil price
  108. Pingback: canada viagra
  109. Pingback: etodolac 300mg uk
  110. Pingback: india pharmacy
  111. Pingback: cost of flomax
  112. Pingback: augmentin 625mg
  113. Pingback: generic viagra
  114. Pingback: levitra reviews
  115. Pingback: imdur price
  116. Pingback: brand cialis
  117. Pingback: cialis vs levitra
  118. Pingback: viagra prices
  119. Pingback: visit
  120. Pingback: abilify definition
  121. Pingback: levaquin usa
  122. Pingback: generic pills
  123. Pingback: how to buy luvox
  124. Pingback: cipla atorvastatin
  125. Pingback: micardis 20mg uk
  126. Pingback: order mobic 15 mg
  127. Pingback: wellbutrin for ocd
  128. Pingback: phenergan for sale
  129. Pingback: buspar vs atarax
  130. Pingback: cheap prevacid
  131. Pingback: canadian pharmacy
  132. Pingback: generic viagra
  133. Pingback: citalopram crush
  134. Pingback: buying viagra
  135. Pingback: cost of viagra
  136. Pingback: antibiotic
  137. Pingback: cialis dosage
  138. Pingback: reglan generic
  139. Pingback: zyrtec 12 hour
  140. Pingback: remeron price
  141. Pingback: cialis wikipedia
  142. Pingback: cost of revatio
  143. Pingback: buying viagra
  144. Pingback: order periactin
  145. Pingback: goodrx sildenafil
  146. Pingback: singulair 4mg cost
  147. Pingback: cheap spiriva
  148. Pingback: cialis 5 mg daily
  149. Pingback: cheap verapamil
  150. Pingback: buy zanaflex 4 mg
  151. Pingback: try here
  152. Pingback: zocor 5 mg usa
  153. Pingback: viagra mfg
  154. Pingback: zyvox online
  155. Pingback: sildenafil prices
  156. Pingback: fexofenadine cost
  157. Pingback: viagra congestion
  158. Pingback: sildenafil generic
  159. Pingback: dutasteride online
  160. Pingback: clonidinemg otc
  161. Pingback: cialis online
  162. Pingback: cialis online
  163. Pingback: clindamycin price
  164. Pingback: cheap clozapine
  165. Pingback: off brand viagra
  166. Pingback: generic sildenafil
  167. Pingback: 141generic2Exare
  168. Pingback: mphsfgsu
  169. Pingback: tadalafil
  170. Pingback: buy estradiol
  171. Pingback: ed pills for sale
  172. Pingback: azithromycin heart
  173. Pingback: vanqkkqd
  174. Pingback: ed pills for sale
  175. Pingback: duloxetine 20mg
  176. Pingback: lasix side effects
  177. Pingback: panmycin generic
  178. Pingback: noroxin online
  179. Pingback: cialis
  180. Pingback: cialis generics
  181. Pingback: viagra
  182. Pingback: coffee with cialis
  183. Pingback: cialis 20 mg cost
  184. Pingback: cheapest cialis
  185. Pingback: viagra
  186. Pingback: safe buy cialis
  187. Pingback: terbinafine online
  188. Pingback: amoxicillin prices
  189. Pingback: lasix 200 mg
  190. Pingback: ivermectin drug
  191. Pingback: albuterol generic
  192. Pingback: clomid stories
  193. Pingback: dapoxetine h
  194. Pingback: buying essay
  195. Pingback: treatment of ed
  196. Pingback: zithromax pill
  197. Pingback: fake essay writer
  198. Pingback: write my paper
  199. Pingback: buy cialis
  200. Pingback: ampk metformin
  201. Pingback: plaquenil stopping
  202. Pingback: generic clomid