is the fourth part of a work in progress. Previous installments charted the slaughter field of history (The Ruin of Kasch) and the Greek river and Indian ocean of myth (The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony and Ka, respectively). Motifs from these books resonate here: Kafka's world both precedes myth, going back to "the origin of the variants" that are the "lifeblood of every mythology," and postdates it, being the product of a world (ours) "where the unmanifest part—the greater part of what is—was increasingly being ignored or denied."
Of Kafka's The Castle, Calasso says we are at "the last outpost of the manifest, which almost yields to the unmanifest." Certainly, "circumspection in critical approach" is important with any writer, but Kafka especially:
What are Kafka’s stories about? Are they dreams? Allegories? Symbols? Things that happen every day? But where and when? Countless answers have been offered, but the question still arouses feelings of acute uncertainty. Many solutions have been proposed, but the essential mystery remains intact.
Thinking about Kafka, I'm reminded that, recently, I very much enjoyed Ritchie Robertson's Kafka: A Very Short Introduction. And, next to my bed, as yet still unread, sit two of Marthe Robert's books: As Lonely as Franz Kafka and The Old and the New: From Don Quixote to Kafka.