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Kafka (1993)

por David Zane Mairowitz, Robert Crumb (Ilustrador)

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8131420,120 (3.88)13
Part illustrated biography, part comics adaptation, R. Crumb's Kafka is a vibrant biography that examines this Czech writer and his works in a way that a bland textbook never could! R. Crumb's Kafka is a work of art in its own right, a very rare example of what happens when one very idiosyncratic artist absorbs another into his world view without obliterating the individuality of the absorbed one. Crumb's art is filled with Kafka's insurmountable neuroses. They are all there: Gregor Samsa's sister, the luscious Milena Jesenska, the Advocate's 'nurse' Leni, Olda and Frieda, and the ravishing Dora Diamant--drawn in that mixture of self-command, tantalizing knowingness and sly sexuality--that Amazonian randiness and thick-limbed physicality that is Crumb.… (mais)
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Of course I do not know what would fix human beings individually or collectively, but of one thing I am fairly certain, that humans individually add up to the collective and that humans individually are way too stupid for our own good, and I suspect there will be possible genetic solutions to that although we are probably too near the end of our rope for it to happen on a large scale. Sooner or later the partisan politicization of issues like the Ebola outbreak are going to prove as fatal however politically successful. I don't think individuals (or small groups) in power have a lot of ability to do good, game changing good, but they do have the power to do bad, to make things worse. History is chock full of that. On a grand scale there is always Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, on a smaller scale the likes of George Bush. We do not usually get to choose between good and bad politics, only bad and worse, sometimes very much worse. So far our social institutions have been able to change and adjust and keep things afloat, but in our Western world the trend is bad and when someone like Bush comes along and gives it a push, that is the case of an individual President making a big difference.

Kafka of course is dealing with non-eugenic humanity based on his knowledge and experience of the past and present. The Cosmos, or Nature, which we as organisms are part of and, if you like, are no more than that, does not in any way seem to care about us in terms of our individual subjectivity or mentality. It always kills us, if we are lucky it ages and debilitates us, and at any time can erupt into a sickness or accident or natural disaster etc. that kills us individually or en masse, regardless of innocence, age, or anything else. You get the picture. In Kafka's world even though societies were nowhere near the size, complexity, or as pervasively organized on a mass scale (that is villages might have intimately organized but not nations), he saw that society internally was becoming a mirror of Nature. That it could kill or harm us as impersonally as the Cosmos and that that was becoming the norm. Many factors contributed to it, industrialization, population growth, advances in communication and transportation and so on. In many ways it was good, but it had a dark side: depersonalization and alienation and social structures that fostered them. Bureaucracy represented this the best, the Court and the Castle are at least in part bureaucracies which have a life and purposes of their own and which are allowed to operate almost as secret societies which can do whatever they like and also have official sanction. In many countries the police and security agencies, even private ones, function like this. They can usually do whatever they want to you nor, as you say, does anyone need to be in charge really. Society is not just outside anyone's control, but it does not act indifferently. In fact Society arguably grows more perverse, permits more perversity, as it grows and evolves, although it may, on a mass scale, provide us, in larger and larger numbers with lots and lots and lots of goodies. It becomes full of twists and turns that are literally Kafkaesque, and the Kafkaesque is a kind of implicit zeitgeist that haunts us all. Kafka right at the beginning sensed the brave new world, and it was his artistry that turned it into our collective nightmares and anguish. It was his artistry that made him so unique and made his nightmares our nightmares, not just in thought but in feeling.

In particular he went to the heart of our existential crisis in a purely material way. We, within the vast and powerful social structures we have created, have become our files, ALL OF US. It was a whole new way to understand human marginalization or residualization, turning people into something less than a person, into their own shadow. Although perhaps not the first to see this, Kundera puts it very nicely which I attach as a separate posting. ( )
1 vote antao | Aug 24, 2020 |
I am writing a full review of this book under one of its alternative titles, "Introducing Kafka". However, I am posting this review under the title "R Crumb's Kafka" to alert readers to the fact that it is identical with books that have been published by a variety of publishers under multiple titles over the past 3 decades, with the authors listed in different orders. This information may help readers avoid my own mistake of ordering duplicate works that simply bear different titles, given that all are listed separately at Amazon.com.

This book was first published in 1990 as "Introducing Kafka" (by Totem Press), and was published as "Kafka for Beginners" at about that same time. Over the past 30 years, it has been reprinted many times under these two titles as well as under the title "R. Crumb's Kafka." The latter version gives first authorship to R. Crumb but is the same work as versions that list DZ Mairowitz as first author. It also was reprinted with the simple title "Kafka" in 2013. Publishers have included Totem Books, Kitchen Sink Publ., I-Books, Byron Preiss Graphic Novels, and FantaGraphics Books. All of these works are identical; they all consist of text by Mairowitz and the stunning illustrations by the underground cartoonist R. Crumb. Whatever its title, the book offers a powerful and amusing introduction to the author Franz Kafka and his fiction. ( )
2 vote danielx | Dec 21, 2018 |
Great read. Great art. I dug. ( )
  bibliosk8er | Aug 16, 2018 |
In Kafka, Robert Crumb and David Zane Mairowitz presents author Franz Kafka -- himself and a discussion of his works -- in graphic novel format. I picked this volume up in a used bookstore thinking that it would be interesting. It was. I don't know much about Kafka beyond one work (The Trial) that we were required to read in high school. I do have one of his collections in my to-be-read pile, and will definitely pull it out now to read soon.

While this book is clearly not an extensive study, it does provide a solid background on Kafka and and also covers the meaning of "Kafkaesque". The authors make an interesting point: "Could he have become the powerful Adjective -- "Kafkaesque" -- if his name had been Schwarz or Grodzinksi or Blumenthal?" (p. 156).

R. Crumb is a well-known cartoonist and illustrator, and his artwork fits very well with the darkness that is Kafka's personality and works. Warning, though, some illustrations are very graphic when there are violent scenes -- so one would not want to hand this over to a young child. ( )
  ValerieAndBooks | Feb 28, 2016 |
A nearly perfect blend of style and substance. I'm a longtime Crumb fan & Kafka novice. The text told me all I want to know & the amazingly controlled & excellent illustrations filled in the rest, providing a surpisingly satisfying learning experience. ( )
  ReneeGKC | Nov 8, 2015 |
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Part illustrated biography, part comics adaptation, R. Crumb's Kafka is a vibrant biography that examines this Czech writer and his works in a way that a bland textbook never could! R. Crumb's Kafka is a work of art in its own right, a very rare example of what happens when one very idiosyncratic artist absorbs another into his world view without obliterating the individuality of the absorbed one. Crumb's art is filled with Kafka's insurmountable neuroses. They are all there: Gregor Samsa's sister, the luscious Milena Jesenska, the Advocate's 'nurse' Leni, Olda and Frieda, and the ravishing Dora Diamant--drawn in that mixture of self-command, tantalizing knowingness and sly sexuality--that Amazonian randiness and thick-limbed physicality that is Crumb.

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