Some theatre each day keeps the doctor away…

Dickens and Kafka

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(I always worry that my titles promise far too much.  Most of the time I write them after I’ve finished the entry; this time I wrote it first.)

I was thinking on the first chapter of America yesterday, and, when I picked up the book again tonight, tonight; and it occurred to me that the stoker in the first chapter has a high chance of appearing later on in the book.  (I am, of course, completely ignorant of what is to come, so no doubt I may be making a fool of myself.  (Then again, if you were to look at a child barreling on ahead and discovering the world – unafraid to seem ignorant or unknowledgeable – would you think them a fool?))  I think of the need for this stoker to return purely in musical terms (there is a theme presented, it must be modulated/repeated); or, in the sense of a “well-made” novel, of not wasting narrative space with an orphan digression at the start.   The best example I can think of is Magwitch in Great Expectations; this is what I expect the stoker to be like.  (I’ve half a mind to look up a synopsis, but I won’t.)

In fact, now I’m beginning to doubt – having made my expectation so concrete by writing it down – that the stoker will appear again at all.  Because this is Kafka I’m reading, not Dickens.  If there is one thing that you could say that having Magwitch reappear adds to the novel, it is a sense of unity, and by extension, harmony.  As if all is connected, and so forth.  This is not Kafka’s mode.  Indeed, out of most authors in the world, Kafka is one of the least suited to ‘harmony’ and what have you.  So I wonder whether it would be ruinous to the effect he’s going for, if he had the stoker reappear.

That, and Karl met Uncle Jacob with the stoker, so it is not as if there was nothing else narrative-wise going on in the scene, so it is not a complete waste if nothing more comes of it.

The stoker will be fired, perhaps, and get a job at a factory somewhere, a factory that Karl will come upon or be involved with.  I think, when I flicked through the book when I bought it, I remember reading a page where a character was in a factory.  (That may not have been America, though.)

Right.  I’m not about to guess the entire plot of the book for two hours.  I might read it instead.  (For ten minutes, no doubt, before I fall asleep.  There is so much I can do when I am tired, but reading for a long period is not one of them.)



Written by epistemysics

November 22, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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