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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

EXISTENTIALISM  AND   SURREALISM               457

of living heedlessly and comfortably, should take up his cross and
bear it; he must realize that life has higher duties than those of
routine existence, and that these are imposed by the Law, which
must be accepted without contradiction, however unjust this divine
justice may appear. Josef K/s life has been that of any ordinary
man who works dutifully and amuses himself normally; he pays
a weekly visit to a barmaid, but that does not constitute guilt.
His guilt is not that he has been immoral, but that he has lived
without taking thought; now he awakens suddenly to the con-
sciousness (his arrest is the symbol of this awakening) that he had
lost, or never had, the sense of what is beyond life.

The next novel, Das Scbloss, is a nightmare in which the
dreamer's attempts to move forward are baffled at every step he
tries to take. The hero, K., has been appointed to the post of
surveyor at a castle; but when he arrives at the village at the
foot of the Castle he is told that no surveyor is wanted; he
makes endless but fruitless efforts to get in touch with those inside
the Castle. He learns that the person of importance is 'divisional
chief Klamm; to get at this official he sleeps with Klamrn's mistress
Frieda; but this, too, leads to nothing. To keep going he accepts
a job as janitor in the village school, while the love affair with
Frieda goes on spasmodically. The sense of the tale is again the
mystery of existence. Whereas Josef K. in Der Process was sum-
moned because he did not seek the Law, K. in Das Schloss sets out
in quest of the Law. Or: he is seeking Grace; and in this quest it
is not a matter of whatever rights he may have as an individual,
but of whether he is chosen (Erwdbltheif) or cast out. Das Schloss
is our existence between Here and Beyond. As events prove K. is
not capable of finding what he seeks. He knocks and it is not
opened unto him. As a surveyor in the Castle he would have been
fulfilling his higher destiny; as a school janitor he is sundered
from the higher life he seeks. He seeks what is out of reach for
him. Very significant in Das Schloss is the role played by women.
K. acts in the conviction that women are in direct touch with the
Castle. That is why he seeks sexual intercourse with them; they
are a means to his end. This was so, too, in Der Process. Women
have a mediating function; they are a link with the irrational
Powers who rule us. This is indicated by the fact that Frieda is the
mistress of Klamm. Women give themselves unreservedly to the
Castle officials; this is their privilege, their realization of self.

p*