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Conversations with Kafka

por Gustav Janouch

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Gustav Janouch met Franz Kafka, the celebrated author ofThe Metamorphosis, as a seventeen-year-old fledgling poet. As Francine Prose notes in her wonderful preface, "they fell into the habit of taking long strolls through the city, strolls on which Kafka seems to have said many amazing, incisive, literary, and per- things to his companion and interlocutor, the teenage Boswell of Prague. Crossing a windswept square, apropos of something or other, Kafka tells Janouch, 'Life is infinitely great and profound as the immensity of the stars above us. One can only look at it through the narrow keyhole of one's personal experience. But through it one perceives more than one can see. So above all one must keep the keyhole clean.'" They talk about writing (Kafka's own, but also that of his favorite writers: Poe, Kleist, and Rimbaud, who "transforms vowels into colors") as well as technology, film, crime, Darwinism, Chinese philosophy, carpentry, insomnia, street fights, Hindu scripture, art, suicide, and prayer. "Prayer," Kafka notes, brings "its infinite radiance to bed in the frail little cradle of one's own existence."… (mais)
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In Kafka there is a perfect synthesis of form and meaning that indisputably continues to powerfully inform our world of expression and feeling. It is a VERY complex art, mindboggling in its enigmatic complexity and unity of execution. In The Trial (really you should read it). Joseph K is still a person, a living breathing 4 dimensional human being (actually so is K in The Castle) who must confront the shadowy nightmarish Court and its endless minions. I would (although maybe I am feeling particularly enthusiastic right now) go so far as to call Kafka's Court one of the finest literary constructs ever, and equally as well executed as it was conceived. It is unreal and deadly real at the same time and perfectly symbolizes all those processes we group under the umbrella concept of bureaucracy. It possesses a newly conceived literary symbol of the "soul" of a real human, i.e., that human's case file, and forces the genuine human to interact with its fatal machinery that is yet all too human (and perverse). And that interaction is also brilliantly executed by Kafka. The human drama, however it plays its symbolic role is completely convincing, completely, overpoweringly, dramatic and engaging as, if you will, storytelling. It is actually an age old story, and yet Kafka made it new in the early 20th century and he did so with both blinding insight into the emerging world and with dazzling literary genius to give it new forms and expression that have not aged a 21st century nanosecond.

So for me it is the art. If you want the message without the art you can read reams of social/political/economic theories about rational decision making (the human being as a similar residual data construct: the consumer) or alienated workers, and so on endlessly, but I want the art. ( )
  antao | Aug 24, 2020 |
In 1920 his father introduced the young 17-year old Janouch to Kafka then 37-year old. They met frequently in that year and perhaps in the next one or two years. Janouch made notes of their conversations. Twenty-five years later, after being engaged in the resistance, the war and imprisonment - so he writes in his short introduction to this edition - Janouch remembers these notes. Limiting himself, he writes, to sifting, ordering and translating them they were first published in 1951 by Fischer. In 1968 an extended edition was brought out. I refer to the first and shorter edition.

After reading with interest Kafka’s views as recorded by Janouch on a wide variety of subjects and writers I found out that their authenticity may be questionable, in particular those of the later enlarged edition. Alena Wagnerová (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 4. 11. 2006 https://www.nzz.ch/articleE5VPZ-1.73133 ) goes as far as naming these ‘falsifications around an authentic core’. I should critically re-read this book but will perhaps never do so.

Both editions, the first and the later extended one of 1968, and their respective translations are here on LT mixed up but should be separated. (VII-20)
  MeisterPfriem | Aug 10, 2020 |
Uudelleenluettunakin vielä mielenkiintoinen. Mietityttää, onko 17-vuotias koulupoika-runoilija Janouch voinut oikeasti muistaa kirjata keskustelujaan K:n kanssa näin yksityiskohtaisesti (samaa miettivät kaikki kirjan lukeneet). Kirjasta saa kuitenkin elävän kuvan K:sta, erityisesti Janouch osaa kuvata keskustelukumppaninsa olemusta, eleitä ja ilmeitä, niin että tuntee itse olevansa paikalla. ( )
  susihukka | Jun 3, 2013 |
A collection of the authors memories of dialogues with Kafka and of things said by him. He tells us how he wrote these things down in a notebook after he had spoken with Kafka, if Kafka had said anything that he had thought interesting, and this is a collection of those that he has thought worth publishing. They range from a few lines to a few pages, with most pages containing several. They sometimes are anecdotes, sometimes observations of the world, some are advice, some criticism, and together they give an interesting perspective of Kafka that is not to be seen in his published stories. They have the similar sort of dark and resigned profundity that can be found in his novels, but are more human as a result of them being recorded by someone else. This will be of interest to those who have read any of Kafka's novels, but perhaps confusing or of less interest to those who have not.
One thing that will interest the Kafka fan is the bibliography of works discussed by Franz Kafka and Gustav Janouch, which will be worth looking into for those wanting to see what influenced Kafka, what he liked, and what inspired him. ( )
1 vote P_S_Patrick | Jan 25, 2010 |
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Gustav Janouchautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculated
Brunt, NiniTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Rees, GoronwyTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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Gustav Janouch met Franz Kafka, the celebrated author ofThe Metamorphosis, as a seventeen-year-old fledgling poet. As Francine Prose notes in her wonderful preface, "they fell into the habit of taking long strolls through the city, strolls on which Kafka seems to have said many amazing, incisive, literary, and per- things to his companion and interlocutor, the teenage Boswell of Prague. Crossing a windswept square, apropos of something or other, Kafka tells Janouch, 'Life is infinitely great and profound as the immensity of the stars above us. One can only look at it through the narrow keyhole of one's personal experience. But through it one perceives more than one can see. So above all one must keep the keyhole clean.'" They talk about writing (Kafka's own, but also that of his favorite writers: Poe, Kleist, and Rimbaud, who "transforms vowels into colors") as well as technology, film, crime, Darwinism, Chinese philosophy, carpentry, insomnia, street fights, Hindu scripture, art, suicide, and prayer. "Prayer," Kafka notes, brings "its infinite radiance to bed in the frail little cradle of one's own existence."

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