On the other hand he was very well-read. I think there wasn't a book of any literary value he hasn't read in his life. Very impressive! In the second half of his biography the encounters with different authors are the best parts to me. I already knew most of this from the TV series called Lauter schwierige Patienten [ nothing but difficult patients ].
If you understand German and have an interest in German literature I highly recommend to check this out! In fact those 12 broadcasts 45 minutes each are a good substitution for the greater part of the second half of this book [links below in the comments section]. The first part I can recommend to anyone who is interested in modern history.
This part can also be read as a historical document of the time period You can think of Marcel Reich-Ranicki as you like, love him or hate him, but you have to admit he was never dull and the German literary scene has become poorer without him. So let's drop some names too. View all 9 comments. Interesting autobiography now available in English as The Author of Himself. Born in Poland and educated in Germany in the Prussian education system he reflects on that experience as representing two poles of German life. On the one hand its cultural heritage on the other ,the cane hanging on the wall to enforce classroom discipline.
Deported to Poland in , there Reich-Ranicki survived the Warsaw Ghetto and the remainder of the war. Expelled from the Polish Workers Party in , and finding the anti-semitism in the country difficult to cope with, he and his family emigrated to West Germany in where he eventually emerged as the foremost literary critic in Germany.
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I think I could well reread this to see if I can get a sense of the development of his literary opinions. Sie wurden alle vergast. Wie war es damit bei uns bestellt? Aber "Flitterwochen" - das ist ja ein zeitlicher Begriff, also muss es diese Wochen gegeben haben. Die Fleischkonserven, die sie erhielten, stammten aus den Vereinigten Staaten oder aus Kanada. Ich war damals View all 12 comments. Schon lange wollte ich Marcel Reich-Ranickis Autobiografie lesen, das Buch habe ich schon nach der Ausstrahlung der Verfilmung gekauft.
Aber wie das nun mal so ist bei einem Monster-SuB, es hat lange dort gelegen und Deutschlands bekanntester Literaturkritiker ist inzwischen verstorben. Ich fand es sehr schlimm, wie Freundschaften dabei zerbrachen, vor allem die Freundschaft zu Walter Jens. Schockiert hat mich gerade die Geschichte dieses Historikerstreits und Joachim Fests Beteiligung daran. Dessen Hitler-Biografie steht auch bei mir im Regal, wenn ich mich auch noch nicht an das Seiten starke Werk gewagt habe.
Ich kann euch nur empfehlen, diese Autiobiografie eines so faszinierenden Zeitzeugen, wie Reich-Ranicki es war, zu lesen. View all 3 comments. Shelves: german , memoir. This had been on the back-burner for a while thanks to Clive James's typically over-enthusiastic writeup in Cultural Amnesia. But it was Reich-Ranicki's passing last September that spurred me to find an affordable copy in English, which took some work.
I can't think of an analogue for him in any other culture. A germanophone Polish Jew who physically and mentally survived the Warsaw ghetto thanks in no small part to his undying faith in humanism and the German Enlightenment, who then rose to bec This had been on the back-burner for a while thanks to Clive James's typically over-enthusiastic writeup in Cultural Amnesia.
A germanophone Polish Jew who physically and mentally survived the Warsaw ghetto thanks in no small part to his undying faith in humanism and the German Enlightenment, who then rose to become the pre-eminent literary critic of the BRD and later, united Germany. For obvious reasons, this can only result in a decrescendo, but the sum of the individual parts make up for any underlying flaw in structure.
The translation is beautiful. For anglophones, there is an endless parade of German writers completely unknown unless you are someone like James or Michael Dirda. His judgments on authors ring true and clear. A great man. View all 6 comments. May 29, Cindy rated it it was amazing Shelves: ebooks. Ein wunderbares Buch May 18, Joyce rated it really liked it Shelves: have , in-german , autobiography. Ehrlich gesagt, sympathisch ist mir Marcel Reich-Ranicki nicht besonders. Aber sein umfangreiches Wissen der deutschen Literatur ist beachtenswert.
Ich Ehrlich gesagt, sympathisch ist mir Marcel Reich-Ranicki nicht besonders. Ich kann jetzt, dank ihm sagen, wenn mich jemand fragt wo denn meine Heimat ist: meine Heimat ist die Literatur! View all 5 comments. Kritisiert die Kritik einer Autobiographie das Buch oder den Menschen? Wieviel darf man einer Autobiographie glauben, was kann zwischen den Zeilen gelesen werden und was sollte anderweitig erschlossen werden? Quadriert die Kritik eines Kritikers diese Fragen? Ich mochte Reich-Ranicki und fand ihn einen der unterhaltsamsten und intelligentesten Moderatoren im deutschen Fernsehen.
Das Buch ist geschrieben, wie er gesprochen hat. Ich bin zu wenig involviert, um seine Kritiken von Autoren und Werken zu hinterfragen. Die Person Reich-Ranicki ist mindestens ebenso faszinierend, aber erschreckt mich ein wenig. Er war nun mal der Literaturpapst. View 1 comment. This book is an autobiography written by Marcel Reich-Ranicki who is a very important contemporary literary critic of German literature.
Mostly, I dislike when translators take this kind of interpretive liberty especial This book is an autobiography written by Marcel Reich-Ranicki who is a very important contemporary literary critic of German literature. Mostly, I dislike when translators take this kind of interpretive liberty especially in such obvious cases, however, after reading this book I must confess that the Hebrew translation does do it justice.
In fact, even better would have been to translate it into "Life As Literature". The author had very interesting life so far, being born in Poland in , moving to Germany at the age of 9, studying there, expelled into Poland by the Nazi Germans in and then surviving the Warsaw Ghetto together with his lifetime partner and wife who he had married there. The book is only something pages and is very flowing.
One thing I am convinced of is that had the author wished so he could easily have spanned a much longer tale. This brings me to my translation's assertion above. The author almost loses his wife, he watches both his parents hopelessly as they are taken to Treblinka, he mentions here and there that his wife suffered later in life from several nervous breakdowns, but through all this you mainly get a very dry, descriptive account of these events, and the main feelings that are expressed are primarily in relation to the literary world and literature.
Initially I thought perhaps this kind of exposure is just too painful for the author to discuss at length.
Then I entertained the thought that maybe the author really is emotionally obtuse or detached either as a defense mechanism or was always this way. My last conclusion, however, is that Reich is so obsessed and was like that throughout his life, whether as a form of escapism or through deep love-obsession relationship with literature and literary criticism that he actually looks on his own life as a kind of a literary creation, and when writing about it he writes about it as the literary critic that he is.
It is an interesting and open question whether this supra-intellectual attitude to life was always prevalent whilst living them, or is it only the impression conveyed via the autobiographical text. They were apparently waiting for a report. They sent out nu- merous riders who disappeared at a gallop up a steeply ascending side street opening off the square. None had yet returned.
Speakintj in con- fidence, otir leadcrsiiip is bad. We must pav for all sons of old ,sins. Our vhirorr. It may be that they won't even w. Hie weather IS beautiful but the street is sianlingiy empty, except for a niunicip. Unheard of," 1 say, and test the tension of the arc. At the comer of the nc. Stop fighung, gentlemen, " I say. He read with pursed lips, his eyes, without his being aware of it, bent close to the book. Occasionally he paused in his reading, wrote short ex- cerpts from what he had read into a little notebook, and then, closing his eyes, whispered from memory what he had written down.
Across from his window, not five yards away, was a kitchen and in it a girl ironing clothes who would often look across at Karl. Suddenly Kosel put his pencil down and listened. Some- one was pacing back and forth in the room above, appar- ently barefooted, making one round after another. At every step there was a loud splashing noise, of the land one makes when one steps into water.
Kosel shook his head. These walks which he had had to endure for per- haps a week now, ever since a new roomer had moved in, meant the end, not only of his studying for today, but of his studying altogether, unless he did something in his own defense. There are certain relationships which I can feel distinctly but which I am unable to perceive. It would be sufficient to plunge down a little deeper; but just at this point the upward pressure is so strong that I should think myself at the very bottom if I did not feel the currents moving below me.
In any event, I look upward to the surface whence the thousand-times-refracted brilliance of the light falls upon me. The old bachelor with the altered cut to his beard. The woman dressed in white in the center of the Kinsley Palace courtyard. Distinct shadow under the high arch of her bosom in spite of the distance. Stiffly seated. June II. It struck me how broad and open were the paths. Everywhere one saw tall old trees in front of the farmhouses.
It had been raining, the air Was fresh, everything pleased me. I tried to indicate this by the manner in which I greeted the people standing in tront of the gates; their repUes were friendly even if some- what aloof. I thought it would be nice to spend the night here if I could find an inn.
Did you see the way tliat little door opened? They heard your footsteps and looked out to see who was wallcing by here so late in the evening. Thank you. But the man followed me. It belongs to the community and, years ago now, after no one had ap- plied for the management of it, it was turned over to an old cripple whom the community already had to provide for.
With his wife he now manages the inn, but in such a way that you can hardly pass by the door, the smell com- ing out of it is so strong. The floor of the parlor is slippery with dirt. A wretched way of doing things, a disgrace to the village, a disgrace to the community. I had no way of guarding against the possibility that he had given me wrong directions, but was determined not to be put out of coimtenance either by his forcing me to march past him now, or by the fact that he had with such remarkable abrapmess abandoned his attempts to warn me against the inn.
Somebody else could direct me to the inn as well, and if it were dirty, why then for once I would simply sleep in dirt, if only to satisfy my stubbornness. Aloreover, I did not have much of a choice; it was already dark, the roads were muddy from the rain and it was a long way to the next village. I mmed. Out of the darkness under a group of plane trees stepped a tall, erect woman.
Her skirts shone a yellowish-brown color, over her head and shoulders was a black coarse-knit shawl. I want to see what that man is going to do. Look at him. Now to be sure it did not much matter to me what he said, but it would naturally be unpleasant for me were he to spread false reports about me in the vil- lage, no matter of what kind.
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I happened to look up at the top of the wall immediately afterward; the man was no longer there, in spite of its height he had ap- parently jumped dow from the wall and was perhaps dis- cussing something with the man and wife. Let them dis- cuss it, what could happen to me, a young man with barely three gulden in cash and the rest of whose property con- sisted of not much more than a clean shirt in his rucksack and a revolver in his trouser pocket. Besides, the people did not look at all as if they Avould rob anyone. But what else could they want of me?
It was the usual sort of neglected garden found on large farms, though the solid stone wall would have led one to expect more. In the tall grass, at regular intervals, stood cherry trees with fallen blossoms. In the distance one could see the farmhouse, a one-story rambling structure. It was already growing quite dark; I was a late guest; if the man on the wall had lied to me in any way, I might find myself in an unpleasant situation.
On my way to the house I met DIARIES 53 no one, but when a few steps away from the house I saw, in the room into which the open door gave, two tall old peo- ple side by side, a man and wife, their faces toward the door, eating some sort of porridge out of a bowl. There was none too great hospitality in their demeanor. I obeyed him only because he was so old, otherwise I should naturally have had to insist that he give a direct answer to my direct question.
It could only have been intended as an insult, thus it was with insults that they met my courtesy; yet she was an old woman, I could not say anything in my defense. I felt there was some jus- tification for a reproach of some sort, not because I had talked too much, for as a matter of fact I had said only what was absolutely necessary, but because of other rea- sons that touched my existence very closely. I said nothing further, insisted on no reply, saw a bench in a dark comer near by, walked over and sat down. The old couple resumed their eating, a girl came in from the next room and placed a lighted candle on the table.
Now one saw even less than before, everything merged in the darkness, only the tiny flame flickered above the slightly bowed heads of the two old people. The friendly little boy took me by the hand and made it easier for me to find my way in the dark. Very soon we came to a lad- der, climbed up it and were in the attic. Through a small open skylight in the roof one could just then see the thin crescent of the moon; it was delightful to step under the skylight— my head almost reached up to it— and to breathe the mild yet cool air. Straw was piled on the floor against one wall; there was enough room for me to sleep too.
The children-there were two boys and three girk-kept laugh- ing while they undressed; I had thrown myself down in my clothes on the straw, I was among strangers, after aU, DIARIES 55 and they were under no obligation to take me in. For a little while, propped up on my elbows, I watched the half- naked children playing in a corner. But then I felt so tired that I put my head on my rucksack, stretched out my arms, let my eyes travel along the roof beams awhile longer and fell asleep. I had surely slept only a very short time, for when I awoke the moonlight still fell almost unchanged through the window on the same part of the floor.
I did not know why I had awakened— my sleep had been dreamless and deep. Then near me, at about the height of my ear, I saw a very small bushy dog, one pf those repulsive little lap dogs with disproportionately large heads encircled by curly hair, whose eyes and muzzle are loosely set into their heads like ornaments made out of some kind of life- less horny substance. What was a city dog like this doing in the village! What was it that made it roam the house at night? Why did it stand next to my ear? It was frightened by my hissing but did not run away, only turned around, then stood there on its crooked little legs and I could see its stunted espe- cially by contrast with its large head little body.
Since it continued to stand there quietly, I tried to go back to sleep, but could not; over and over again in the space immediately before my closed eyes I could see the dog rocking back and forth with its protruding eyes.twinkrice.com/usr/39/3559.php
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It was unbearable, I could not stand the animal near me; I rose and picked it up in my arms to carry it outside. Thus I was forced to hold its little paws fast too— an cas ' mat- ter, of course; I was able to hold all four in one hand. Only now did it strike me hotv silent the little dog was, it neither barked nor squeaked, though I could feel its blood pounding wildly through all its arteries.
After a few steps— the dog had claimed all my attention and made me care- less— greatly to my annoyance, I stumbled over one of the sleeping children. The child sighed, I stood still for a moment, dared not move even my toe away lest any' change waken the child still more. It tvas too late; suddenly, all around me, I saw the children rising up in their white shifts as though by agree- ment, as though on command.
It xvas not my fault; I had made only one child wake up, though it had not really been an awakening at all, only a slight disturbance that a child should have easily slept through. But now they were awake. T es, 1 said; I had nothing to hide, if the children wanted to take the dog out, so much the better. It was keeping me from sleeping. One of them took the dog, DIARIES 57 which had now become entirely still, from my arm and hurried away with it; the rest followed.
I did not want to remain here alone, also my sleepiness had left me by now; for a moment I hesitated, it seemed to me that I was meddling too much in the affairs of this house where no one had shown any great confidence in me; but finally I ran after the children. I heard the patter- ing of their feet a short distance ahead of me, but often stumbled in the pitch darkness on the unfamiliar way and once even bumped my head painfully against the wall. We came into the room in which I had first met the old people; it was empty, through the door that was still standing open one could see the moonlit garden.
After all, it is so ridiculous to run about after the children here. But how the chil- dren ran! With their shifts flying they leaped through the moonlit room in two bounds, as I distinctly saw. Suddenly a bright light appeared. In front of us, in a room with several windows opened wide, a delicate-look- ing woman sat at a table writing by the light of a tall, splendid table lamp.
The children put the dog on the table; they obviously loved the woman very much, kept trying FRANZ KAFKA 58 to look into her eyes, one girl seized her hand and caressed it; she made no objection, was scarcely aware of it. The dog stood before her on die sheet of letter paper on which she had just been writing and stretched out its quivering litde tongue toward her, the tongue could be plainly seen a short distance in front of the lampshade. The woman was undecided, got up, stretched her arms and pointed to the single bed and the hard floor.
The children refused to give it any importance and lay down on the floor wherever they happened to be, to try it; for a while everything was quiet. Her hands folded in her lap, the woman looked down with a smile at the children. Now and then one raised its head, but when it saw the others still lying down, lay back again.
I looked up and, on top of the stove that stood deep in the gloom of a comer, saw something alive. Only later I realized that I had entered without Icnocking. Miss Hefter — It was about midnight. Five men held me, behind them a sixth had his hand raised to grab me. I felt some sort of law at work, had known that this last effort of mine would be successful, saw all the men reeling back with raised arms, realized that in a moment they would aU tlirow themselves on me together, turned toward the house entrance— I was standing only a short distance from it— lifted the latch it sprang open of itself, as it were, with extraordinary rapidity , and escaped up the dark stairs.
On the top floor stood my old mother in the open door- way of our apartment, a candle in her hand. One has a black full beard, one a large ring on his finger, one has a red belt, one has his trousers torn at the knee, one has only one eye open, and the last bares his teeth. Yellowish face, sparse hair lying flat on his slcull, from time to time a heightened sparkle in his eyes.
Was in India with Melchior Lechter, fell ill with dysenter '; cats cvcrj'thing, every piece of fruit he finds lying in the dust of the street. If he finds a valuable Bible or picture or page that he wants in a village church, he tears what he wants out of the book, off the wall, from the altar, puts a two- heller piece down as compensation and his conscience is clear. Every woman he has had has been photographed. The bundle of photographs that he shows every visitor. Sits at one end of the sofa, his visitor, at a considerable distance from him, at the other. The life of society moves in a circle.
Thanks to their affliction they constitute a circle and pro- vide each other mutual support. They glide along the inner borders of their circle, make way for or jostle one another gently in the crowd. Each encourages the other in the hope that it will react upon himself, or— and then it is done pas- sionately— in the immediate enjoyment of this reaction.
Each has only that experience which his affliction grants him; nevertheless one hears such comrades exchanging im- mensely varying experiences. After all, he belongs— his statement betrays it— to the same circle as docs the one to whom he spoke; he stands in the same need of comfort. In the same circle, however, one knows only the same things. There exists not the shadow of a thought to give the com- forter an advantage over the comfoned.
Thus their con- versations consist only of a coming-together of their imagi- nations, outpourings of wishes from one upon die other. One will look down at the ground and the other up at a bird; it is in such differences that dicir intercourse is re- alized.
Sometimes they will unite in faith and, their heads together, look up into the unending reaches of the slcy. Recognition of their situation shows itself, however, only when they bow down their heads in common and the com- mon hammer descends upon them. June How I calmly walk along while my head twitches and a branch feebly rustles overhead, causing me tlie worst discomfort. I have in me the same calm, the same assurance as other people, but somehow or other inverted. W, to me. TIk xvoakx he takes upon hinudf for me.
Dow they nu'vcj hats, into i.. Pikeknvo dieadlo. Now tfic crude, c. Convinced that I need F. How the two of us, Ottla and 1, explode in rage against every kind of human rclatiimslup. The p. The noises of tiic narrow street beat in uninter- ruptedly. Ily now I l;ncw every trifle in tlte rootn from having looked at it in t! My cyc. My fingers bad spanned the table across the middle many times.
Toward evening I walked over to the window and sat downs on the low sill. Tlicn, for the first time not moving restlessly about, I happened calmly to glance into the inte- rior of the room and at the ceiling. And finally, finally, un- less I were mistaken, this room which 1 had so violently up- set began to stir.
The tremor began at the edges of the thinly plastered white ceiling. Little pieces of plaster broke off and xvith a distinct thud fell here and there, as if at random, to the floor. I held out my hand and some plaster fell into it too; in my excitement I dircw it over my head into the diaries 63 street without troubling to turn around.
The cracks in the ceiling made no pattern yet, but it was already possible somehow to imagine one. But I put these games aside when a bluish violet began to mix with the white; it spread straight out from the. Wave after wave of the color— or was it a light? One no longer paid any attention to the plaster that was falling away as if under the pressure of a skilfully applied tool.
Yellow and golden-yellow colors now penetrated the violet from the side. But the ceiling did not really take on these different hues; the colors merely made it somewhat transparent; things striving to break through seemed to be hovering above it, already one could almost see the out- lines of a movement there, an arm was thrust out, a silver sword swung to and fro.
It was meant for me, there was no doubt of that; a vision intended for my liberation was be- ing prepared. I sprang up on the table to make everything ready, tore out the electric light together with its brass fixture and hurled it to the floor, then jumped down and pushed the table from the middle of the room to the wall. That which was striving to appear could drop down unhindered on the carpet and announce to me whatever it had to announce. I had barely finished when the ceiling did in fact break open.
In the dim light, still at a great height, I had judged it badly, an angel in bluish-violet robes girt with gold cords sank slowly down on great white silken-shining wings, the sword in its raised arm thrust out horizontally. Now it will speak to me. The hilt of the sword was made in such a way as to hold candles and catch the dripping tallow. Hellerau to Leipzig with Pick.
I behaved ter- ribly. Couldn t ask a question, answer one, or move; was barely able to look him in the eye. The Navy Lcagfuc agi- tator, the fat, sausage-eating Thomas couple in whose house we Uved, Prescher, who took us there; Mrs. Thomas, Heg- ner, Fantl and Mrs. Adler, the woman and the child, An- neliese, Mrs. July I. Too tired. July 5, To have to bear and to be the cause of such suffer- ing! July The tribunal in the hotel. Trip in the cab. She patted her hair with her hand, wiped her nose, yawned. Suddenly she gathered herself together and said very studied, hostile things she had long been saving up.
The trip back with Miss Bl. Afternoon sun, in addition. Energetic waiter, almost an Eastern Jew in his manner. The courtyard noisy as a boiler factory. Bad smells. Crushing it a difficult decision. Chamber- maid astonished: There are no bedbugs anywhere; once only did a guest find one in the corridor. I recited my lesson. Her father understood the thing from every side. Made a special trip from Malmo to meet me, traveled all night; sat there in his shirt sleeves. They agreed that I was right, there was nothing, or not much, that could be said against me.
Devilish in my innocence. Miss Bl. Evening alone on a bench on Unter den Linden. Sad-looldng ticket-seller. Stood in front of people, shuffled the tickets in his hands and you could only get rid of him by buying one. When I see people of this kind I 66 FRANZ KAFKA always think: How' did he get into this job, how much does he make, where will he be tomorrow, what awaits him in his old age, where does he live, in what comer does he stretch out his arms before going to sleep, could I do his job, how should I feel about it?
All this together with my stomach-ache. Suffered through a horrible night. And yet almost no recollection of it. She still hopes it will end w'ell, or acts as if she does. Drank wine. Tears in her eyes. Ships leave for Griinau, for Schwertau. A lot of people. Gave me The Gothic Rooms. Talked a lot I knew nothing. Especially about how she got her way in her job against a venomous white-haired old woman who worked in the same place.
She would like to leave Berlin, to have her ow business. She loves quiet. MTien she was in Sebnitz she often slept all day on Sunday. Can be gay too. MTiy did her parents and aunt wave after me? Why did F. Was I expected to do something? Nothing could have been more natural.
From nothing interrupted by Dr. Weiss, who walks over to the window July Letter dishonest and coquettish. Went nvice to the swimming pool on the Strahlauer Ufer. Lots of Jews. Evening in the garden of the Askanischer Hof. Ate rice a la Trautmannsdorf and a peach. A man drinking wine watched my attempts to cut the unripe little peach with my knife. Finally I collected all my strength and in defiance of him bit into the completely juiceless and expensive peach.
A tail man in the booth near me occupied with nothing but the roast he was painstak- ingly selecting and the wine in the ice bucket. Finally he lit a long cigar; I watched him over my Fliegende Blatter. Left from the Lehrter railroad station. Strong-looking girl with all the silver bracelets. Changing trains in Buchen during the night.
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Hotel Schutzenhaus dreadful. Cluttered walls, dirty clothes un- der the sheet, neglected building; a bus boy was the only servant. Afraid of the room, I went into the garden and sat down over a bottle of mineral water. Opposite me a hunch- back drinking beer and a thin, anemic young man who was smoking. Slept nevertheless, but was awakened early in the morning by the sun shining through the large window straight into my face. The window looked out on the rail- road tracks; incessant noise of the trains. Relief and happi- ness after moving to the Hotel Kaiserhof on the Trave.
Trip to Travemiinde. Mixed bathing. View of the beach. Afternoon on the sand. My bare feet struck people as in- decent. Near me a man who was apparently an American. Instead of eating lunch walked past all the pensions and restaurants. Sat among the trees in front of the Kurhaus and listened to the dinner music. In Liibeck a walk on the Wall. Bustle on the Sportplatz. Unloading timber from a sailboat. Weiss at tlie railroad station. Unfailing resemblance to Lowy. Unable to make up my mind on Glcschendorf. Meal in the Hansa dairy.
Telephone conversation with Glcschendorf. Trip to Ma- rienlyst. Mysterious disappearance of a young man wearing a raincoat and hat and his mysterious reappear- ance in the carriage on the trip from Vaggerloese to Marienlyst. Despairing first impression of the barrenness, the miserable house, the bad food with neither fruit nor vege- tables, the quarrels between W. Decided to leave the next day. Gave notice. Stayed nevertheless. Beyond me. The man writing in the middle of the garden; fat face, black eyes, pomaded long hair brushed straight back. Rigid stare, looked right and left out of the comers of his eyes.
The children, uninterested, sat around his table like flies. I am more and more unable even in the office. Is my knowledge of this as clear as the thing itself? I shun people not because I want to live quietly, but rather because I want to die quietly. I think of the walk we, E. Neither of us spoke, I thought nothing but that each step taken was that much of a gain for me.
And E. The first time in many months that I felt any life stir in me in the presence of other people was in the compart- ment on the return trip from Berlin, opposite the Swiss woman. She reminded me of G. Once she even ex- claimed; Children! She had headaches, her blood gave her so much trouble.
Ugly, neglected little body, bad, cheap dress from a Paris department store. Freckles on her face. But small feet; a body completely under control because of its diminutive size, and despite its clumsiness, round, firm cheeks, sparkling, inextinguishable eyes. The Jewish couple who lived next to me. Young people, shy and unassuming; her large hooked nose and slender body; he had a slight squint, was pale, short and stout; at night he coughed a little. They often walked one behind the other. Sight of the tumbled bed in their room. Danish couple. The man often very proper in a dinner jacket, the woman tanned, a weak yet coarse-featured face.
Were silent a good deal; sometimes sat side by side, their heads inclined toward one another as on a cameo. The impudent, good-looking youngster. Always smok- ing cigarettes. Looked at H. Sometimes he paid her no attention at all. Silently demanded a cigarette from her.
Soon thereafter, from the distance, offered her one. Wore torn trousers. If anyone is going to spank him, it will have to be done this summer; by next summer he will be doing the spanldng.
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Strokes the arms of almost all the chambermaids; not humbly, how- ever, not with embarrassment but rather like some lieu- tenant whose still childish face permitted him liberties that FUANZ KAFKA 70 would later be denied him. How he makes as if to chop off the head of a doll with his knife at the dinner table. Four couples. By lamp light and to phonograph music in the main hall. After each figure a dancer hurried to the phonograph and put on a new record. A decorous, graceful and earnestly executed dance, especially on tiie part of the men.
The proper, neat, trustworthy gentleman with a face looking almost sullty in its utter solemnity; modesty and manliness. Played the piano. The gigantic German with dueling scars on his square face tvhose puffed lips came to- other so placidly when he spoke. His wife, a hard and nendly Nordic face, accentuated, beautiful walk, accen- tuated freedom of her swaying hips. Woman from Lubeck eyes. Then m childish talkativeness asked some meaningless question. For example, we were sitting and correcting the amp.
Suddenly he appeared and in a matter-of-fact, trus u an loud voice asked where the other children had run off to. The stiff old gentleman who was a demonstration of w at the noble Nordic longheads look like in old age. The two friends, one of them blond, resembling Richard Strauss, smiling, reserved, clever; the other dark, correctly dressed, mild-mannered yet firm, too daint '-, lisped; both of them gourmets, kept drinking wine, coffee, beer, brandy, smoked incessantly, one poured for the other; their room across from mine full of French books; wrote a great deal in the stuffy writing room when the weather was mild.
Joseph K. The doorkeeper made a deep bow, Joseph looked casually at him without a word of greeting. I was in great perplexity'. Only a moment ago I had known what to do. With his arm held out before him the boss had pushed me to the door of the store. Behind the two counters stood my fellow clerks, supposedly my friends, tlicir gr. Get out! Get out, Isay! There are still courts here! For five years I slaved for you like a son and now you treat me like a diief.
And now I was in a quandary. I had stolen, had slipped a five-gulden bill out of the till to take Sophie to the theater that evening. Made my jottings on the trip in another notebook. But I will not give up in spite of insomnia, headaches, a general incapacity. It was not stubborn- ness when I silently laughed with contorted face and fever- ishly shining cheeks at someone who had unwittingly proffered me advice.
It was suspense, a readiness on my part to be instructed, an unhealthy lack of stubbornness. The director of the Progress Insurance Company was al- ways greatly dissatisfied with his employees. Now every director is dissatisfied with his employees; the difference between employees and directors is too vast to be bridged by means of mere commands on the part of the director and mere obedience on the part of the employees.
Only mutual hatred can bridge the gap and give the whole enter- prise its perfection. Bauz, the director of the Progress Insurance Company, looked doubtfully at the man standing in front of his desk applying for a job as attendant with the company. Our attendants arc part officials, they have responsi- ble work to do; do you feel you are qualified for that? Your head is shaped peculiarly. Your forehead recedes so.
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Related Hamsun: Flaubert, Zwei Reden (German Edition)
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