Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Kafka bridge


Franz Kafka, Amerika (The Man Who Disappeared), trans. from the German by Michael Hoffman (New York: New Directions, 2002).

Also from Amerika
An American writing desk
A Kafka highway

comments: 8

Chris said...

I'm not sure about his geography there. What Hudson River bridge would you take to go from New York City to Boston?

Pete said...

Do you think he was referring to a specific bridge? Or was he just winging it?

Michael Leddy said...

Elaine and I suspect that he was confusing Boston with Brooklyn. Othe things are off too (pounds instead of dollars). Strangely charming.

Michael Leddy said...

Also: if Brooklyn, it’d be the East River.

Pete said...

I assume he never visited the U.S.

Michael Leddy said...

That’s right. And he has San Francisco on the East Coast.

Chris said...

The Muirs' translation has "The bridge connecting New York with Brooklyn hung delicately over the East River, and if one half-shut one's eyes it seemed to tremble" (italics mine). I wonder if the Muirs corrected Kafka's geography. And is Karl then heading northeast out of the city?

Michael Leddy said...

Hoffman used a manuscript version. I think that Max Brod must have made the correction first — there’s a German text online with Brooklyn: “Die Brücke, die New York mit Brooklyn verbindet, hing zart über den East River, und sie erzitterte, wenn man die Augen klein machte.” And then there’s this one: “Die Brücke, die New York mit Boston verbindet hieng zart über den Hudson und sie erzitterte, wenn man die Augen klein machte.”

As for where Karl is headed, I’d say further and further into Kafka’s imaginary country. I think that’s the only answer.