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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

4J8                    MODKRN   GERMAN   LITERATURE

There is filthiness of detail - but life /> filthy; thus K. and Frieda
press face to face as they lie embracing in dregs of spilt beer on
the floor of a pub. Thus the degradation of the function of sexual
love is symbolized, the degradation of spirituality - which union
in love should be - to animal sensuality. Thus in literature - the
highest literature - as in life the nobility of man's mind is prosti-
tuted. In sex relations there is no need of the transformation to
bugs or other unclean things: in the sex grip normal man and
woman an unclean beasts, Both Josef K. and K. are intellectuals;
they think, they seek; but by that very fact they plan success by
means of sensual pleasure.

Amerika is generally considered the weakest novel of the trilogy
because there is in it some lift of the spirit towards happiness,
Karl Rossmann, a boy of seventeen, has been seduced by a servant
at his home, a woman of thirty-five. She wishes to father on the
boy the child she is to bear, and so he is packed off to America,
The story of the seduction, transparently real in all its sexual
details, cunningly framed but to the boy dream-like, makes it clear
that Karl is not so much innocent as an innocent; in him we have
once again der nine Tor of the medieval legends. At New York
harbour, just as he is about to land, he notices that he has left his
umbrella below and goes down to fetch it. He gets lost in a maze
of corridors, and finally meets a stoker who complains to him of
having been harshly treated by the chief engineer. They wander
off together to the chief cashier's office, where the stoker makes
his complaint to the captain, who happens to be present. The
complaint meets deaf ears; all are against the plaintiff, When Karl
himself pleads for him, he is asked for his name. He gives it, and
a gentleman of prosperous appearance standing near the captain
at once cries out that he is his nephew; he recognises him from
the description that has been sent him. The stoker is left with no
hope of redress, and the senator takes the wondering boy to his
luxurious home, where he is kept more or less in confinement;
however he visits a friend of his uncle's, whereupon the latter
casts him off. He works as a lift-boy in an hotel, but is dismissed
He has adventures in the glamorous panorama of a New York
such as we know it from films, Karl remains ever innocent and
good, ever der mm Tor, as he winds his way through these laby-
rinths of city life. The last chapter - found by Max Brod in Ws
friend's posthumous papers - comes nearest in Kafka's work to