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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

454                  MODERN  GERMAN  LITERATURE

ness of it and the abject subjection to tyranny that it was, especially
since at home he was the victim of his family, who were unable to
understand his yearning for higher things and creative activity. His
sister at first shows pity, then gives him up. The furniture is re-
moved; he covers with his slimy body the picture of a lady robed
in furs; he still longs for the beautiful. In measure as his family's
loathing for him grows., so does his feeling of isolation, until he
dies of starvation. His family celebrate the occasion by going on
a picnic. What is the meaning of this metamorphosis ? There have
been a variety of interpretations. But in the light of what we now
know of Kafka's trend of thought in those days it seems clear
that at all events one element in the story is Kafka's conflict with
his father; in the 1919 letter to his father he refers to himself as
cUnge%iefer\ Clear, too, is the reaction to Darwinism: not Uber-
menschentum, but Dbertier^Kreafurlichkeil. Transmutations of human
to beast and vice versa were elements of the neo-romantic Mdrchen\
and in form Die Verwandltmg has something of the Mdrchen\ but
these transmutations in the true Marchen are not symbols of intel-
lectual processes; one might, therefore, class Die Verwandlung2&>
since it is the contrary of a Mdrchen proper, an Antimarchen. There
is transformation, too, in Em l&trichtfur dm Akademie^ one of the
sketches of "Bin Landar^t: a monkey trained at Hagenbeck's Zoo
is transformed to man. He has a wife, *eine kleine halbdressierte
ScUmpansitf\ and, he says, *icb lasse es mir nach Affenart bet ihr wohl-
gehen. "Bei Tag mil ich sie nicht sehen . . . '. Here, too, there is a
thinking process: nach Affenart is a sly dig at routine marriage.
There is more of the later metaphysical Kafka in Vor dem Gesefy
another parable of Ein Landar^t: before the Law stands a door-
keeper. To him comes a man from the country and craves admit-
tance. He is told that admittance cannot be granted. The man
waits and waits close by the open door, but entrance is again and
again refused. The door-keeper gives him a stool, and he sits on
it days and years till at last he is on the point of death; the door-
keeper then roars into his ears: 'Nobody could obtain admittance
here; for this entrance was destined for you and none other. Now
I will go and close it.' In der Strafkohnie tells of an explorer who
inspects a machine which kills a man by engraving his sentence
into his flesh with vibrating needles* The victim pinioned to the
floor of the machine has no idea what his crime is, but che will
feel it in his flesh'. Here we have one of Kafka's main concepts