FRANZ KAFKA


From “The Metamorphosis”

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”

“I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.”

“Was he an animal, that music could move him so? He felt as if the way to the unknown nourishment he longed for were coming to light.”

“He thought back on his family with deep emotion and love. His conviction that he would have to disappear was, if possible, even firmer than his sister's. He remained in this state of empty and peaceful reflection until the tower clock struck three in the morning. He still saw that outside the window everything was beginning to grow light. Then, without his consent, his head sank down to the floor, and from his nostrils streamed his last weak breath.”


From “The Castle”:

“…I can’t think of any greater happiness than to be with you all the time, without interruption, endlessly, even though I feel that here in this world there’s no undisturbed place for our love, neither in the village nor anywhere else; and I dream of a grave, deep and narrow, where we could clasp each other in our arms as with clamps, and I would hide my face in you and you would hide your face in me, and nobody would ever see us any more.”

“There they lay, but not in the forgetfulness of the previous night. She was seeking and he was seeking, they raged and contorted their faces and bored their heads into each others bosom in the urgency of seeking something, and their embraces and their tossing limbs did not avail to make them forget, but only reminded them of what they sought”

"I dream of a grave, deep and narrow, where we could clasp each other in our arms as with clamps, and I would hide my face in you and you would hide your face in me, and nobody would ever see us any more"

"If a man has his eyes bound, you can encourage him as much as you like to stare through the bandage, but he'll never see anything."

"You misinterpret everything, even the silence."

"There's no quiet place here on earth for our love, not in the village and not anywhere else, so I picture a grave, deep and narrow, in which we embrace as if clamped together, I bury my face against you, you yours against me, and no one will ever see us."

"One must fight to get to the top, especially if one starts at the bottom." ? Franz Kafka, The Castle

"Since I met you, I've felt abandoned without your nearness; your nearness is all I ever dream of, the only thing."

"Our winters are very long here, very long and very monotonous. But we don't complain about it downstairs, we're shielded against the winter. Oh, spring does come eventually, and summer, and they last for a while, but now, looking back, spring and summer seem too short, as if they were not much more than a couple of days, and even on those days, no matter how lovely the day, it still snows occasionally."

"Illusions are more common than changes in fortune"

"'Stop interpreting everything!' said K."

"Deceptions are more frequent than changes"

"Other opportunities arise from time to time that almost don't accord with the overall situation, opportunities whereby a word, a glance, a sigh of trust may achieve more than a lifetime of exhausting endeavour."

"Of course I'm ignorant, that remains true at all events and is extremely distressing for me, but it does have the advantage that the ignorant man dares more, so I shall gladly put up with ignorance and its undoubtedly dire consequences for a while, as long as my strength lasts."

"It seemed to K. as if at last those people had broken off all relations with him, and as if now in reality he were freer than he had ever been, and at liberty to wait here in this place usually forbidden to him as long as he desired, and had won a freedom such as hardly anybody else had ever succeeded in winning, and as if nobody could dare touch him or drive him away, or even speak to him, but - this conviction was at least equally as strong - as if at the same time there was nothing more senseless, more hopeless, than this freedom, this waiting, this inviolability."

"He speaks to Klamm, but is it Klamm? Isn't it rather someone who merely resembles Klamm? Perhaps at the very most a secretary who is a little like Klamm and goes to great lengths to be even more like him and tries to seem important by affecting Klamm's drowsy, dreamlike manner. That part of his being is easiest to imitate, many try to do so; as for the rest of his being, though, they wisely steer clear of it. And a man such as Klamm, who is so often the object of yearning and yet so rarely attained, easily takes on a variety of shapes in the imagination of people. For instance, Klamm has a village secretary here called Momus. Really? You know him? He too keeps to himself but I have seen him a couple of times. A powerful young gentleman, isn't he? And so he probably doesn't look at all like Klamm? And yet you can find people in the village who would swear that Momus is Klamm and none other than he. That's how people create confusion for themselves. And why should it be any different at the Castle?"

"Those who are ignorant naturally consider everything possible."

"It seemed to k. as if all contact with him had been cut and he was more of a free agent than ever. He could wait here, in a place usually forbidden to him, as long as he liked, and he also felt as if he gad won that freedom with more effort than most people could manage to make, and no one could touch him or drive him away, why, they hardly had a right even to adress him. But at the same time - and this feeling was at least as strong - he felt as if there were nothing more meaningless and more desperate than this freedom, this waiting, this invulnerability."

"The conclusion to be drawn from this was that this was in its way a quite different sort of fatigue from K.'s. Here it was doubtless fatigue amid happy work, something that outwardly looked like fatigue and was actually indestructible repose, indestructible peace. If one is a little tired at noon, that is part of the happy natural course of the day. 'For the gentlemen here it is always noon,' K. said to himself."

"Quite simple," said the chairman, "you haven't really come into contact with our authorities. All those contacts are merely apparent, but in your case, because of your ignorance of the situation here, you think they're real. As for the telephone: look, in my own house, though I certainly deal often with the authorities, there's no telephone. At inns and in places like that it may serve a useful purpose, along the lines, say, of an automated phonograph, but that's all. Have you ever telephoned here, you have? Well then, perhaps you can understand me. At the Castle the telephone seems to work extremely well; I've been told the telephones up there are in constant use, which of course greatly speeds up the work. Here on our local telephones we hear that constant telephoning as a murmuring and singing, you must have heard it too. Well, this murmuring and singing is the only true and reliable thing that the local telephones convey to us, everything else is deceptive. There is no separate telephone connection to the Castle and no switchboard to forward our calls; when anyone here calls the Castle, all the telephones in the lowest-level departments ring, or all would ring if the ringing mechanism on nearly all of them were not, and I know this for certain, disconnected. Now and then, though, an overtired official needs some diversion-especially late in the evening or at night-and turns on the ringing mechanism, then we get an answer, though an answer that's no more than a joke. That's certainly quite understandable. For who can claim to have the right, simply because of some petty personal concerns, to ring during the most important work, conducted, as always, at a furious pace? Nor can I understand how even a stranger can believe that if he calls Sordini, for instance, it really is Sordini who answers. Quite the contrary, it's probably a lowly filing clerk from an entirely different department. But it can happen, if only at the most auspicious moment, that someone telephones the lowly filing clerk and Sordini himself answers. Then of course it's best to run from the telephone before hearing a sound."

"To be sure, all that pointless standing about and waiting day after day always starting all over again without any prospect of change, will wear a man down and make him doubtful, and ultimately incapable of anything but that despairing standing about."

"She was just sitting there in the taproom like a spider in its web, had threads everywhere that only she knew of; stealing her away against her will would have been absolutely impossible; only love for an inferior, something in other words that was incompatible with her position, could drive her from her post."


From “The Trial”

“Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.”

"The only thing I can do now," he said to himself, and his thought was confirmed by the equal length of his own steps with the steps of the two others, "the only thing I can do now is keep my common sense and do what's needed right till the end. I always wanted to go at the world and try and do too much, and even to do it for something that was not too cheap. That was wrong of me. Should I now show them I learned nothing from facing trial for a year? Should I go out like someone stupid? Should I let anyone say, after I'm gone, that at the start of the proceedings I wanted to end them, and that now that they've ended I want to start them again? I don't want anyone to say that. I'm grateful they sent these unspeaking, uncomprehending men to go with me on this journey, and that it's been left up to me to say what's necessary"

"There were dark hours, of course, such as came to everybody, in which you thought you had achieved nothing at all, in which it seemed to you that only the cases predestined from the start to seucceed came to a good end, which they would have reached in any event without your help, while every one of the others was doomed to fail in spite of all your manouvres, all your exertions, all the illusory little victories on which you plumes yourself."

"As someone said to me--I can't remember now who it was--it is really remarkable that when you wake up in the morning you nearly always find everything in exactly the same place as the evening before. For when asleep and dreaming you are, apparently at least, in an essentially different state from that of wakefulness; and therefore, as that man truly said, it requires enormous presence of mind or rather quickness of wit, when opening your eyes to seize hold as it were of everything in the room at exactly the same place where you had let it go on the previous evening. That was why, he said, the moment of waking up was the riskiest moment of the day. Once that was well over without deflecting you from your orbit, you could take heart of grace for the rest of the day."

"They're talking about things of which they don't have the slightest understanding, anyway. It's only because of their stupidity that they're able to be so sure of themselves."

“From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached.”

“It would have been so pointless to kill himself that, even if he had wanted to, the pointlessness would have made him unable.”

"Logic may indeed be unshakeable, but it cannot withstand a man who is determined to live. Where was the judge he had never seen? Where was the High Court he had never reached? He raised his hands and spread out all his fingers. But the hands of one of the men closed round his throat, just as the other drove the knife deep into his heart and turned it twice.

"An elderly merchant, a man with a long beard, was pleading with a young girl for a favourable report! Whatever Block's ulterior motive might be, nothing could justify his behaviour in the eyes of a fellow human being. K. did not understand how the advocate could have imagined that this spectacle would win him over. If K. had not dismissed him already, this performance would have made him do so; it almost degraded the onlooker. So this was the effect of the advocate's method, to which K. had fortunately not been exposed for too long: the client finally forgot the whole world and could only drag himself along this illusory path to the end of his trial. He was no longer a client; he was the advocate's dog."

"But under the beards--and this was K.'s real discovery- --badges of various sizes and colors gleamed on their coat- collars. They all wore those badges as far he could see. They were all colleagues, these ostensible parties of the right and left, and as he turned round suddently he saw the same badges on the coat collar of the Examining Magistrate, who was sitting quietly watching the scene with his hands on his knees. "So!" cried K. flinging his arms in the air, his sudden enlightenment had to break out, "every man jack of you is an official, I see, you are yourselves the corrupt agents of whom I have been speaking, you've all come rushing here to listen and nose out what you can about me, making a pretense of party divisions, and half of you applauded merely to lead me on, you wanted some practice in fooling an innocent man."

“No," said the priest, "you don't need to accept everything as true, you only have to accept it as necessary." "Depressing view," said K. "The lie made into the rule of the world.”

“The right understanding of any matter and a misunderstanding of the same matter do not wholly exclude each other.”

“One must lie low, no matter how much it went against the grain, and try to understand that this great organization remained, so to speak, in a state of delicate balance, and that if someone took it upon himself to alter the dispositions of things around him, he ran the risk of losing his footing and falling to destruction, while the organization would simply right itself by some compensating reaction in another part of its machinery – since everything interlocked – and remain unchanged, unless, indeed, which was very probable, it became still more rigid, more vigilant, severer, and more ruthless.”

“I see, these books are probably law books, and it is an essential part of the justice dispensed here that you should be condemned not only in innocence but also in ignorance.”

“It's sometimes quite astonishing that a single, average life is enough to encompass so much that it's at all possible ever to have any success in one's work here.”

“Before he dies, all his experiences in these long years gather themselves in his head to one point, a ques-tion he has not yet asked the doorkeeper. He waves him nearer, since he can no longer raise his stiffening body. The doorkeeper has to bend low towards him, for the difference in height between them has altered much to the man's disadvantage. "What do you want to know now?" asks the doorkeeper; "you are insati-able." "Everyone strives to reach the Law," says the man, "so how does it happen that for all these many years no one but myself has ever begged for admit-tance?" The doorkeeper recognizes that the man has reached his end, and to let his failing senses catch the words roars in his ear: "No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it.”

"I had to arrange things as well as I could. That's obviously a very bad place for the bed, in front of the door. For instance when the judge I'm painting at present comes he always comes through the door by the bed, and I've even given him a key to this door so that he can wait for me here in the studio when I'm not home. Although nowadays he usually comes early in the morning when I'm still asleep. And of course, it always wakes me up when I hear the door opened beside the bed, however fast asleep I am. If you could hear the way I curse him as he climbs over my bed in the morning you'd lose all respect for judges. I suppose I could take the key away from him but that'd only make things worse. It only takes a tiny effort to break any of the doors here off their hinges."

"It's characteristic of this judicial system that a man is condemned not only when he's innocent but also in ignorance."

"Look at this, Willem, he admits he doesn't know the law and at the same time insists he's innocent."

"Logic may indeed be unshakeable, but it cannot withstand a man who is determined to live."

"But I'm not guilty," said K. "there's been a mistake. How is it even possible for someone to be guilty? We're all human beings here, one like the other." "That is true" said the priest "but that is how the guilty speak"

"He accepted it as a fundamental principle for an accused man to be always forearmed, never to let himself be caught napping, never to let his eyes stray unthinkingly to the right when his judge was looming up on the left--to the right when his judge was looming up on the left--and against that very principle he kept offending again and again."

"The books we need are of the kind that act upon us like a misfortune,that makes us suffer like the death of someone we love more than ourselves, that make us feel as though we were on the verge of suicide,lost in a forest remote from all human habitation"

"You must not pay too much attention to opinions. The written word is unalterable, and opinions are often only an expression of despair."

"Judgement does not come suddenly; the proceedings gradually merge into the judgement."

"But I cannot find my way in this darkness," said K. "Turn left to the wall," said the priest, "then follow the wall without leaving it and you'll come to a door." The priest had already taken a step or two away from him, but K. cried out in a loud voice, "please wait a moment." "I am waiting," said the priest. "Don't you want anything more form me?" asked K. "No," said the priest. "You were so friendly to me for a time," said K., "and explained so much to me, and now you let me go as if you cared nothing about me." "But you have to leave now," said the priest. "Well, yes," said K., "you must see that I can't help it." "You must first see who I am," said the priest. "You are the prison chaplain," said K., groping his way nearer to the priest again; his immediate return to the Bank was not so necessary as he had made out, he could quite stay longer. "That means I belong to the Court," said the priest. "So why should I want anything from you? The court wants nothing from you. It receives you when you came and it dismisses you when you go."

"You're not cross with me, though?" he said. She pulled her hand away and answered, "No, no, I'm never cross with anyone."

"Next time I come here," he said to himself, "I must either bring sweets with me to make them like me or a stick to hit them with."

"The moonlight lay everywhere with the natural peace that is granted to no other light."

"The books were old and well worn, the cover of one of them had nearly broken through in its middle, and it was held together with a few threads. "Everything is so dirty here," said K., shaking his head, and before he could pick the books up the woman wiped some of the dust off with her apron. K. took hold of the book that lay on top and threw it open, an indecent picture appeared. A man and a woman sat naked on a sofa, the base intent of whoever drew it was easy to see but he had been so grossly lacking in skill that all that anyone could really make out were the man and the woman who dominated the picture with their bodies, sitting in overly upright postures that created a false perspective and made it difficult for them to approach each other. K. didn't thumb through that book any more, but just threw open the next one at its title page, it was a novel with the title, What Grete Suffered from her Husband, Hans. "So this is the sort of law book they study here," said K., "this is the sort of person sitting in judgement over me."

"It puzzled K., at least it puzzled him looking at it from the policemen's point of view, that they had made him go into the room and left him alone there, where he had ten different ways of killing himself. At the same time, though, he asked himself, this time looking at it from his own point of view, what reason he could have to do so. Because those two were sitting there in the next room and had taken his breakfast, perhaps?"

"If he stayed at home and carried on with his normal life he would be a thousand times superior to these people and could get any of them out of his way just with a kick."


From “Amerika”:

“So then you’re free?’

‘Yes, I’m free,’ said Karl, and nothing seemed more worthless than his freedom.”


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