By contrast, this is a story I read maybe once a month, because I never know how it’s going to make me feel. It’s more of a full-on anxiety dream than many of Kafka’s, and I’ve already deleted a couple of attempted summaries of what happens, because there’s no point. I can’t get to the bottom of it, probably because there is none. I only started into Kafka about ten years ago, but it’s become a total addiction. I’m not especially interested in the man himself, though that stage of the disorder may well be coming. For now, I just marvel at what he uncovered and left us with, and how much of the writing I love from the hundred years since has its source in his remarkable spirit.
First published in German in the eponymous collection, 1917. Widely translated and collected, including in The Complete Short Stories, Vintage Classics. Available online here, translated by Ian Johnston