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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

The Bookaholics' Guide to Book Blogs: "Mark Thwaite ... has a maverick, independent mind"

Monday 15 August 2005

Roberto Calasso's K

Roberto Calasso's "nimble study of Kafka" (so say the Village Voice), K:


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.

More online: see The Kafka Project and The Diaries of Franz Kafka.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Reader Comments

Tuesday 23 August 2005

Christian Stretton says...

Whoa! I come back off my holidays, and the whole world has changed.

I love the new look. It looks pretty, and it's much easier to find stuff. You must feel a very proud father.



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Omens, after Alexander Pushkin

I rode to meet you: dreams
like living beings swarmed around me
and the moon on my right side
followed me, burning.

I rode back: everything changed.
My soul in love was sad
and the moon on my left side
trailed me without hope.

To such endless impressions
we poets give ourselves absolutely,
making, in silence, omen of mere event,
until the world reflects the deepest needs of the soul.

-- Louise Gluck
Averno (Carcanet Press)

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The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or two

Pre-order Anu Garg's new book: The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words (ISBN 9780452288614), published by Penguin more …

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