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Dare to Complete Franz Kafka’s The Castle


She held out her trembling hand to K. and had him sit down beside her, she spoke with great difficulty, it was difficult to understand her, but what she said

-Last sentence of “The Castle”

Franz Kafka didn’t have to battle many distractions.  Solitude could be gained with very little effort on his part.

Let’s take a look at the average Kafka day:  He worked typical hours in the insurance office.  After work, he voluntarily met with Max Brod and a few other friends once or twice a week in the cafe to talk literature, then he went home.  He did not marry, and only had a few acutely felt but short-lasting dalliances with women who often lived in different cities.

Some hypothesize that he had a repressed homosexuality.  The grounds for this are in his journal, which he wrote under the misapprehension that it, along with the rest of his creative output, would be burnt upon his death, but, in the name of timelessness, Max Brod politely intervened, and the rest is history.

One passage in his journals attests to his supposed love of the same sex.  In it, he wistfully describes a young man in a bookstore.

But seriously, we’ve all been to bookstores.  Who wouldn’t you describe wistfully in one?  Every bookstore patron looks wistful while frolicking among shelves of bound pages.  It has to do with Mrs Nature’s need to maintain balance between content and form.  Inside a space so dense with content, form must make a good showing.

Getting back to Franz K and his short list of impediments to solitude, apart from time spent at work, with friends, and dealing with the emotional distraction that had to do with his inability to fully experience the joy of a relationship, whether with the same or different sex, he suffered from tuberculosis, which meant visits to sanitariums in the mountains, where the air’s purity convalesces patients back to health.  But really, what should’ve been an impediment to solitude actually became a font of creativity.

It was while in a sanitarium that he found the time and isolation to write The Castle, or at least the time and isolation to pen the story of K until health problems rendered it impossible to pen anymore.  That’s right, when tuberculosis got too severe in his throat, the father of modern literature stopped mid-sentence.  I’m not sure how near the final letter is to the conclusion that he had in mind, if he had one, but it’s definitely a final letter, no punctuation.

Kind of frustrating after having come so far, but still Franz K is reputed as being the pioneer of modern literature, and The Castle his tour de force.  As a pioneer, Kafka literally gave us what he could, traveled so far, laid down the groundwork for future generations, and then he left the rest to us, the mass of post-pioneers.

Put that way, I begin to wonder why no one has cashed in and brought The Castle to an end.  The majority of the novel is written already, the majority of the work done, I just can’t believe that I live in a culture full of creative leap frogs, and not one has succeeded in capitalizing on this slam dunk.

Here comes the disclaimer:  If ever after March 1, 2009, an entity begins to make any money off the proceeds of an idea based on completing Franz Kafka’s The Castle, no less than half of the revenue is owed to herocious.

There, think that’ll hold water in a court of law?


March 11, 2009 4:04 pm

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