Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1925

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Poll Results

OptionVotes
The Trial by Franz Kafka 14
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 7
Mrs Dalloway by Virgina Woolf 3
The Professor's House by Willa Cather 2
Manhattan Transfer by John Dos Passos 2
The Counterfeiters by André Gide 1
The Fugitive by Marcel Proust 1
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser 1
The Making Of Americans by Gertrude Stein 1
Berlin Without Jews by Arthur Landsberger 0
The Spring To Come by Stefan Zeromski 0
Metropolis by Thea Von Harbou 0
Raboliot by Maurice Genevoix 0
The Fellowship Of The Frog by Edgar Wallace 0
Frau Sixta by Ernst Zahn 0
Jud Suss by Lion Feuchtwanger 0
Cement by Feodor Gladkov 0
Mitya's Love by Ivan Bunin 0
The Löwensköld Ring by Selma Lagerlof 0
Chaka by Thomas Mofolo 0
The Informer by Liam O'Flaherty 0
The Fickle Border by Ionel Teodoreanu 0
Days Gone By by Abdulla Qodiriy 0
Wild Geese by Martha Ostenso 0
Those Barren Leaves by Aldous Huxley 0
St.Mawr by D.H. Lawrence 0
Professor Dowell's Head by Alexander Belyaev 0
Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska 0
The Eternal Lover by Edgar Rice Burroughs 0
Firecrackers: A Realistic Novel by Carl Van Vechten 0
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos 0
Porgy by DuBose Heyward 0
The Wind by Dorothy Scarborough 0
The Battle To The Weak by Hilda Vaughan 0
Christina Alberta's Father by H.G. Wells 0
Dimsie Goes To School by Dorita Fairlie Bruce 0
Menace From The Moon by Bohun Lynch 0
No More Parades by Ford Maddox Ford 0
The Painted Veil by Somereset Maugham 0
Pastors And Masters by Ivy Compton-Burnett 0
The Sailor's Return by David Garnett 0
Herbs And Apples by Helen Hooven Santymer 0


Daniel_Rf, Monday, 14 December 2020 12:47 (one month ago) link

This is where you start to see "killed by anti-semite extremists" or "killed in Stalin's purges" a lot on the less well known author's bios.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 14 December 2020 12:50 (one month ago) link

Is this the first time we've had three canonical big-hitters in the same year?

imago, Monday, 14 December 2020 12:55 (one month ago) link

Read Dalloway, The Fugitive and the Trial. Don't really care for Woolf beyond the diaries. As I've gone for Proust quite a bit in the past I will switch to Kafka.

I quite like to read Making of the Americans (or at least parts of it) someday.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 14 December 2020 12:57 (one month ago) link

I had never heard of Liam O’Flaherty, to my shame, so adding that to my list of books to buy and read a decade later.

Haven’t read enough to vote on this, but really liked Mrs Dalloway.

scampostiltskin (gyac), Monday, 14 December 2020 12:59 (one month ago) link

I had never heard of Liam O’Flaherty, to my shame, so adding that to my list of books to buy and read a decade later.

Haven’t read enough to vote on this, but really liked Mrs Dalloway.

scampostiltskin (gyac), Monday, 14 December 2020 12:59 (one month ago) link

Is this the first time we've had three canonical big-hitters in the same year?

i count four...

ledge, Monday, 14 December 2020 13:05 (one month ago) link

Wow, I've read three of these.

cajunsunday, Monday, 14 December 2020 13:14 (one month ago) link

lol is this where I get clowned for not knowing The Fugitive is a big-hitter

imago, Monday, 14 December 2020 13:19 (one month ago) link

It's the fifth and sixth installment (usually) of 'À la recherche', the so called Albertine-cycle.

Tempted to go for Kafka here, but really, it is Proust yet again.

A Scampo Darkly (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 14 December 2020 13:30 (one month ago) link

fair play to Marcel, he's done well there

imago, Monday, 14 December 2020 13:31 (one month ago) link

Gonna toss a vote to Cather because she deserves it for her most ambitious novel.

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 14 December 2020 13:33 (one month ago) link

I voted for The Trial, but ftr, since no one explicitly mentioned it yet: Gatsby is a good book

loose Orwellian mobs (rob), Monday, 14 December 2020 14:26 (one month ago) link

Kafka, and it’s not even close, although I love the Woolf and Proust both. I couldn’t stand The Great Gatsby in high school and I’m not sure I’d warm up to it now. The Counterfeiters is often touted as Gide’s best but I found its tricks quite dull.

pomenitul, Monday, 14 December 2020 14:33 (one month ago) link

None of Gide's young tricks were dull.

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 14 December 2020 14:37 (one month ago) link

‘Young’ is quite the euphemism there, alas.

pomenitul, Monday, 14 December 2020 14:40 (one month ago) link

Though I do see your point, calling Gide dull is a bit harsh imo. I'd call it bold experimentation rather than 'dull tricks', esp since - for me - a lot of it works, and some of it was fresh for 1925 iirc.

Had a look and of course wiki has a character graph lol:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/24/Counterfeiters_-_Character_Network.svg/700px-Counterfeiters_-_Character_Network.svg.png

A Scampo Darkly (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 14 December 2020 14:43 (one month ago) link

Modernism in full flower now.

Gatsby is one of those things it's so normie to love that you try to engineer a little resistance in yourself, but nope, I still love it above just about everything else. Mrs. Dalloway is an amazing monument which I admire -- as a piece of art, maybe even more than Gatsby -- but which leaves me cold.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Monday, 14 December 2020 15:40 (one month ago) link

I guess now is the time to admit I've never read Mrs Dalloway. I know, I know.

Gatsby is one of those things it's so normie to love that you try to engineer a little resistance in yourself, but nope

Yeah, I see this. The writing is SO startling in some places. But I never really cared about the characters tbf. Just... damn, that writing.

I think it has to be Kafka for me, but I'm going to take a little time with this one.

emil.y, Monday, 14 December 2020 15:55 (one month ago) link

This poll is loaded with heavy hitters, I have no clue which will prevail.

Gatsby is an extraordinary book in many ways; I'm more conscious of its weaknesses than I was on my first few readings, but it still strikes me as almost perfect.

Far from perfect: The Fellowship of the Frog, which I read after seeing the 1959 krimi film adaptation ... maybe it's necessary to read Wallace in German translations to understand what the fuss was about; the book is not atmospheric or well-plotted, just a standard pulp succession of fights, chases, escapes, and rescues.

Brad C., Monday, 14 December 2020 16:06 (one month ago) link

Yeah, Kafka. The Trial was just a mind-blowing discovery in high school. I love Proust more, but I've already voted for the Albertine cycle once, and this particular volume isn't much of a standalone.

I've also read Gatsby. Nothing against it, but it doesn't really excite me at all.

jmm, Monday, 14 December 2020 16:14 (one month ago) link

Brad I've watched a couple of those krimi films and "standard pulp succession" was what they felt like too, especially when compared to what Italy was doing with the same genre at the time. Though to be fair maybe I just saw underwhelming examples, there's a lot of them!

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 14 December 2020 16:18 (one month ago) link

and, as always, there were several other Wallaces in the wiki list I had to omit; picked this one because the title made me lol

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 14 December 2020 16:19 (one month ago) link

Mrs. Dalloway

horseshoe, Monday, 14 December 2020 17:19 (one month ago) link

Brane broken here---The Fugitive continues the redundant tiresomeness of The Prisoner for quite a while (these were not in his original plan, duh)---b-but between Mrs D, Gatsby, The Trial and The Professor's House, I dunno---tempted to go w Citizen K, though also a vote to Cather because she deserves it for her most ambitious novel.

dow, Monday, 14 December 2020 17:52 (one month ago) link

Amazing to think Gatsby, Mrs Dalloway and The Trial were all published in the same year. But yeah. Gatsby. I find it more nakedly didactic every time I read it but goddamn those sentences.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Monday, 14 December 2020 18:30 (one month ago) link

The Fugitive by far the novel's dullest volume.

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 14 December 2020 18:34 (one month ago) link

i voted Kafka without much thought becuase i dunno it's the "importantest" or the most singular or something

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Monday, 14 December 2020 18:35 (one month ago) link

I voted for The Trial, but ftr, since no one explicitly mentioned it yet: Gatsby is a good book

― loose Orwellian mobs (rob), Monday, December 14, 2020 9:26 AM (four hours ago) bookmarkflaglink

basically my thoughts

k3vin k., Monday, 14 December 2020 18:42 (one month ago) link

I don't think I could re-read the Trial, knowing that I didn't have the wallop of the punchline (such as it is) to save me. I only saw the German title relatively recently - Der Prozess - which somehow makes the whole thing even more brutally amusing.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Monday, 14 December 2020 18:50 (one month ago) link

This is where you start to see "killed by anti-semite extremists" or "killed in Stalin's purges" a lot on the less well known author's bios.

Also the second "____ without Jews" book in the last three years. Bettauer, who wrote "The City Without Jews," was murdered by an antisemite in 1925. Landsberger, ("Berlin without Jews," on this year's list) killed himself in 1933 after Hitler took power.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Monday, 14 December 2020 18:57 (one month ago) link

xp I agree, Daniel_Rf -- the few krimi I've seen have been boring sub-giallo affairs ... less boring, however, than trying to read Edgar Wallace

Brad C., Monday, 14 December 2020 19:18 (one month ago) link

I'm voting Blondes, in hopes of status inflation karma.

eatandoph (Neue Jesse Schule), Monday, 14 December 2020 19:31 (one month ago) link

xp What a life:

Wallace was such a prolific writer that one of his publishers claimed that a quarter of all books in England were written by him.[1] As well as journalism, Wallace wrote screen plays, poetry, historical non-fiction, 18 stage plays, 957 short stories, and over 170 novels, 12 in 1929 alone. More than 160 films have been made of Wallace's work. In addition to the creation of King Kong, he is remembered as a writer of 'the colonial imagination', for the J. G. Reeder detective stories, and for The Green Archer serial. He sold over 50 million copies of his combined works in various editions, and The Economist describes him as "one of the most prolific thriller writers of [the 20th] century", although the great majority of his books are out of print in the UK, but are still read in Germany.[2][3]
Ancestry and Birth
...Wallace's parents had a "broom cupboard" style sexual encounter during an after-show party. Discovering she was pregnant, his mother invented a fictitious obligation in Greenwich that would last at least half a year and obtained a room in a boarding house where she lived until her son's birth, on 1 April 1875.[9] During her confinement she had asked her midwife to find a couple to foster the child. The midwife introduced Wallace's mother to her close friend, Mrs Freeman, a mother of ten children, whose husband George Freeman was a Billingsgate fishmonger. On 9 April 1875, his mother took Wallace to the semi-literate Freeman family, and made arrangements to visit often.[citation needed]
....Wallace registered in the British Army under the name Edgar Wallace, after the author of Ben-Hur, Lew Wallace.[5][6][9] At the time the medical records register him as having a 33-inch chest and being stunted from his childhood spent in the slums.[9] He was posted to South Africa with the West Kent Regiment, in 1896.[6] He disliked army life but managed to arrange a transfer to the Royal Army Medical Corps, which was less arduous but more unpleasant, and so transferred again to the Press Corps, which he found suited him better.[9]

...Wallace began publishing songs and poetry, much inspired by Rudyard Kipling, whom he met in Cape Town in 1898. Wallace's first book of ballads, The Mission that Failed!, was published that same year. In 1899, he bought his way out of the forces and turned to writing full-time.[5] Remaining in Africa, he became a war correspondent, first for Reuters and then the Daily Mail (1900) and other periodicals during the Boer War.

Firsts
Wallace was the first British crime novelist to use policemen as his protagonists, rather than amateur sleuths as most other writers of the time did. Most of his novels are independent stand-alone stories; he seldom used series heroes, and when he did he avoided a strict story order, so that continuity was not required from book to book.

On 6 June 1923, Edgar Wallace became the first British radio sports reporter, when he made a report on The Derby for the British Broadcasting Company, the newly founded predecessor of the BBC. I thought the BBC was is The British Broadcasting Company?

"The Canker In Our Midst"
Wallace wrote a controversial article in the Daily Mail in 1926 entitled "The Canker In Our Midst" about paedophilia and the show business world.[19] Describing how some show business people unwittingly leave their children vulnerable to predators, it linked paedophilia with homosexuality and outraged many of his colleagues, publishing associates, and business friends including theatre mogul Gerald du Maurier. Biographer Margaret Lane describes it as an "intolerant, blustering, kick-the-blighters-down-the-stairs" type of essay, even by the standards of the day.[20]

Politics, emigration to the U.S., and screenwriting
Wallace became active in the Liberal Party and contested Blackpool in the 1931 general election as one of a handful of Independent Liberals, who rejected the National Government, and the official Liberal support for it, and strongly supported free trade.[5] He also bought the Sunday News, edited it for six months, and wrote a theatre column, before it closed.[21] In the event, he lost the election by over 33,000 votes. He went to America, burdened by debt, in November 1931. Around the same time, he wrote the screenplay for the first sound film adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles (1932), produced by Gainsborough Pictures.

He moved to Hollywood and began working as a "script doctor" for RKO.[5] His later play, The Green Pack, opened to excellent reviews, boosting his status even further. Wallace wanted to get his own work on Hollywood celluloid, and so he adapted books such as The Four Just Men and Mr J G Reeder. In Hollywood, Wallace met Stanley Holloway's scriptwriter, Wallace's own half-brother Marriott Edgar. Wallace's play On the Spot, written about gangster Al Capone, would prove to be the writer's greatest theatrical success. It is described as "arguably, in construction, dialogue, action, plot and resolution, still one of the finest and purest of 20th-century melodramas".[22] It launched the career of Charles Laughton, who played the lead Capone character Tony Perelli.[22]

Death and aftermath
Death
In December 1931, Wallace was assigned work on the RKO "gorilla picture" (King Kong, 1933) for producer Merian C. Cooper. By late January, however, he was beginning to suffer sudden, severe headaches and was diagnosed with diabetes. His condition deteriorated within days.

Much more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Wallace
Read something somewhere about a housemaster reading his (11-12 year old?) charges to sleep with a chapter of Wallace each night.

dow, Monday, 14 December 2020 19:49 (one month ago) link

Quite like to read Gide's Diaries someday too..

xyzzzz__, Monday, 14 December 2020 22:00 (one month ago) link

I voted The Trial over The Great Gatsby as being the greater work of imagination, whereas Gatsby is more a work of deft construction.

Respectfully Yours, (Aimless), Monday, 14 December 2020 22:10 (one month ago) link

I don't know! Fitzgerald invented or stumbled on an essential American prototype: the man of modest intelligence from nowhere who invents himself by sheer force of will. Think Charles Foster Kane and Ronald Reagan. The novel critiques and celebrates this prototype when it seemed fresh.

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 14 December 2020 22:16 (one month ago) link

Kane may not be the best exemplar of what you have in mind. But Jack London would fit that mold.

Respectfully Yours, (Aimless), Monday, 14 December 2020 22:29 (one month ago) link

Because he's fictional? He's a kid adopted by a bank who becomes the world's most famous man and is in the end nothing more than an empty box. Classic American.

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 14 December 2020 22:30 (one month ago) link

Being adopted by a bank is not exactly an act of will, and gives one a considerable head start out of nowhere.

Respectfully Yours, (Aimless), Monday, 14 December 2020 22:35 (one month ago) link

That's fair, but he's hardly Trump (who, I agree, does not qualify).

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 14 December 2020 22:35 (one month ago) link

Voting Kafka, but it hearts my heart to ignore the Cather and the Fitzgerald, both of which are masterpieces.

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Monday, 14 December 2020 23:37 (one month ago) link

The Cather is so fucking good, especially Tom Outland's story.

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 14 December 2020 23:38 (one month ago) link

Been saying a while: creative writing programs would be better if Cather replaced Hemingway as a Model of Economy.

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 14 December 2020 23:39 (one month ago) link

I don't think I could re-read the Trial, knowing that I didn't have the wallop of the punchline

Kafka is all punchline imo

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Monday, 14 December 2020 23:39 (one month ago) link

You're not wrong, it's just funny seeing as most of his works are unfinished.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 00:36 (one month ago) link

i'm still kind of on the side of "Brod was a traitor" but those books are good in ways that feel irrelevant and embarrassing to argue for, luckily they're good in other ways too

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 00:39 (one month ago) link

The Trial in particular wants me to say hyperbolic stuff that i wdn't use as a yardstick for books but ffs the century bent itself into his vision

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 00:41 (one month ago) link

The interpretive groundwork he subsequently laid, turning Kafka into an essentially religious author, was the real betrayal imo.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 00:42 (one month ago) link

Y'all should watch Orson Welles' hilarious adaptation.

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 00:42 (one month ago) link

the biggest hitters would be Magritte and Dali? neither of them really ideologically central to the ideas even if i'm being kind

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 00:51 (one month ago) link

excuse my ramble, just need to think this out loud, but the biggest stupidest misconception of "surrealism" was when it became a substitute word for wacky/random

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 00:52 (one month ago) link

The term's strength lies in its suggestive, even, uh, dream-like nebulousness.

Plus, misuse is the norm (see also: 'deconstruction').

pomenitul, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 00:54 (one month ago) link

Besides, Breton's own 'definition' wouldn't exactly pass an analytic philosopher's litmus test – a good thing, too.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 00:55 (one month ago) link

oh yeah sorry i wasn't having a pop at you

and i'm not claiming a definitive definition

but i've not much interest in the surreal as a disconnect from the material, it's a revelation of the material imo

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 00:55 (one month ago) link

Nadja is one of my essential novels, but most of those Surrealists idealized or hated women or, to quote Whit Stillman, were a bunch of social climbers.

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 00:56 (one month ago) link

also the elite cadre, with Kafka at the top and Orwell quite possibly second, of writers who've stamped themselves into the imaginaire of people who've never read them

― Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Monday, December 14, 2020 7:43 PM (one minute ago)

yeah seriously nothing grinds my gears like a conservative who quotes orwell

k3vin k., Tuesday, 15 December 2020 00:57 (one month ago) link

all those insects, all those buildings, all that bric a brac

the commonplace usage now is a long way from the heart of the dream

obviously words only mean what the people who use them mean but

Nadja yeah, Persistence of Memory nah

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 00:57 (one month ago) link

Bunuel movies are chock full of stuff, not ideas

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 00:58 (one month ago) link

Surrealism is more reality, not less.

xps they were terrible about women, yes, although the subsequent generation of post-surrealist female writers and artists issued some fascinating correctives to the original group's misogyny.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 00:59 (one month ago) link

Breton, the Pope of Surrealism, put Dali "on trial" lol -- these dudes had no humor at all

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 01:00 (one month ago) link

This year has the most heavy-hitting line up so far. No one's even mentioned Gertrude Stein, Ivy Compton-Burnett, Ford Maddox Ford, Dos Passos, or Dreiser.

Respectfully Yours, (Aimless), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 01:00 (one month ago) link

Bunuel is one of my top ten filmmakers, and I don't consider him a Breton-ian Surrealist.

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 01:00 (one month ago) link

and to swing back to vaguely what the point was, lol

Kafka isn't writing allegories, he's mapping the world AS IS

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 01:01 (one month ago) link

otm

Blanchot has some good bits about this, but I digress.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 01:01 (one month ago) link

i think Bunuel was closest to Breton in terms of adherence to Marxism, belief in chance and materiality and not trying to create a meta-dream

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 01:02 (one month ago) link

Breton, the Pope of Surrealism, put Dali "on trial" lol -- these dudes had no humor at all

there was obviously a lot of rancour and dickishness but there's at least one level where calling out Dali was funny and Dali kept his shaman face a lot straighter, for money

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 01:08 (one month ago) link

Mark Polizzotti's Breton bio shows Dali, at his insouciant best, having his way with these fools.

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 01:09 (one month ago) link

The most worthwhile among them all got excommunicated.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 01:10 (one month ago) link

i can't objectively call a score so fair enough, the outcome was as it was. i care about Breton's work, especially the absence of work, way more than i care about Dali, who seems quainter and way more assimilable to me

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 01:14 (one month ago) link

Breton's poetry is about the only "spontaneous" kind I can take.

Patriotic Goiter (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 01:15 (one month ago) link

a lot of the game play surrealist stuff isn't very interesting or good?

Nadja is amazing, i agree. i feel like Breton argued the best for not just making more stuff to shove into the art markets

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 01:18 (one month ago) link

and again Kafka was right if he didn't want to add to the heap of commodities in a world that was accelerating the pile of cultural commodities exponentially

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 01:19 (one month ago) link

i'm rambling in knots now, the Bretonian move is to shut the fuck up

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 01:20 (one month ago) link

On the other hand, but ignoring that, I'm suddenly struck by the thought that The Trial is a nightmare about taxonomy and its reification as filing. And taxonomy is the liberating motor of the enlightenment, and the power of its liberation derived from squishing the reality of things into the labyrinth of records, and your name is the file tag the state apparatus uses to exert its squish

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 01:31 (one month ago) link

Gatsby seemed like more of an idealist, a different type of American product, than Kane, Hearst or Trump, though they all four have a lot of drive...he may be an example of "The con man has to love his own bullshit," though we see the kind of overachievment this leads to (I'm sure somebody read this and thought, "Well yeah, but if he had done this that way and that this way, coulda alled work out, hmmm.")
Stein, ICB, Ford, and Drieser can be amazingly good, but I haven't read these particular books. Dos Passos's appropriately large USA kept me racing along , but I envy Scott Seward for reading it in high school; that would have been perfect.

dow, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 01:45 (one month ago) link

"all worked" or woiked out, even.

dow, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 01:46 (one month ago) link

ts reification as filing Yeah, he worked in an insurance office, didn't he? His father's?

dow, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 01:48 (one month ago) link

oh yeah, this sounds about right: Kafka obtained the degree of Doctor of Law on June 18, 1906 and performed an obligatory year of unpaid service as law clerk for the civil and criminal courts.

Work

At the end of 1907 Kafka started working in a huge Italian insurance company, where he stayed for nearly a year. His correspondence during that period witnesses that he was unhappy with his working time schedule - from 8 p.m (20:00) until 6 a.m (06:00) - as it made it extremely difficult for him to concentrate on his writing. On July 15, 1908, he resigned, and few weeks later found more suitable employment with the Worker's Accident Insurance Institute for the Kingdom of Bohemia. He worked there until July 1922 when he retired for reasons of ill health.

He often referred to his job as insurance officer as a "bread job", a job done only to pay the bills. However, he did not show any signs of indifference towards his job, as the several promotions that he received during his career prove that he was a hardworking employee. In parallel, Kafka was also committed to his literary work.
8 p.m. to 6 a.m.!
https://www.kafka-online.info/franz-kafka-biography.htm

dow, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 01:53 (one month ago) link

Strange to say, there's only one thread on ilx solely dedicated to kafka

But there are two for Max Brod, vis a vis Kafka:
Thread of Max Brod Hate
where would we be without Max Brod?

None of them are on I Love Books.

Respectfully Yours, (Aimless), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 02:32 (one month ago) link

I agree that Kafka is making a map of the territory, albeit at half a step removed. Even something as ostensibly allegorical as the Penal Colony has a realist weight to it. I'm sure he'd have pissed himself laughing at the notion of being a prophet or whatever but he's like Ballard in that regard: his worlds are always on the edge of becoming our own. Or vice versa.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Tuesday, 15 December 2020 08:28 (one month ago) link

speaking of kafka, anyone read that newly translated story in the new yorker this year? it must have sucked because it seems no one’s discussed it

k3vin k., Tuesday, 15 December 2020 13:03 (one month ago) link

There were four stories and you could read all of them in ten minutes, which may explain the lack of discussion - not to criticise them for brevity, my favourite thing I read this year of Kafka's is this aphorism:

The crows assert that a single crow could destroy the heavens. This is certainly true, but it proves nothing against the heavens, because heaven simply means: the impossibility of crows.

The longest of the New Yorker stories starts with a simple proposition which rapidly descends into typical absurdity, it reads almost like a shaggy dog story with a groan-worthy punchline.

ledge, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 13:50 (one month ago) link

Blanchot has some good bits about this, but I digress.

― pomenitul

Blanchot has some good bits about a lot of things. I should really go back and reread some of his shit, it's so good.

emil.y, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 17:51 (one month ago) link

The New Yorker pieces are excerpts from The Lost Writings, which I posted about on What Are You Reading?:
"It is not a barren wall, it's living sweetness pressed into a wall, bunches of grapes pressed together."---"I don't believe it."---"Taste it."---"I'm too incredulous to lift a hand."---"I'll put a grape to your mouth, then."---"I won't be able to taste it from incredulity."---"Then drop!---"Didn't I tell you that the barrenness of this wall is enough to lay a man out?"
That's from Kafka's The Lost Writings, recently published by New Directions, translated by Michael Hofmann, and selected by Reiner Stach, who also wrote the afterword.
More uses of humor than expected, to a range of effects, incl. at least one that turns out like a sketch from Yiddish theater, if not a Mel Brooks movie. Also one that involves a power figure's much younger wife, uh-oh: more about sex and gender than expected as well---been a long time since I've read him, though. (Those last two are almost as long as it gets in here, like a couple pages each.)
Don't worry, it's also Kafkaesque:

A delicate matter, this tiptoeing across a crumbling board set down as a bridge, nothing underfoot, having to scrape together with your feet the ground you are treading on, walking on nothing but your reflection down in the water below, holding the world together with your feet, your hands cramping at the air to survive this ordeal.
Those are among my favorites so far, but some don't seem to work as well, though even here, he sets the bar fairly high.

dow, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 18:20 (one month ago) link

Some of the ones I didn't get at first I do now (I think): the mind has to adjust to the shifts, the climbing of trees and word-walls and bridges and so on.

dow, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 18:25 (one month ago) link

also the elite cadre, with Kafka at the top and Orwell quite possibly second, of writers who've stamped themselves into the imaginaire of people who've never read them

― Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Monday, December 14, 2020 7:43 PM (one minute ago)

Kafka is evading this tendancy these days, I think. "Read some effin Orwell", is how it mostly is.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 18:51 (one month ago) link

Also don't think Brod's interpretation has stuck -- all of this speaks to the greatness of the work.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 18:52 (one month ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Wednesday, 16 December 2020 00:01 (four weeks ago) link

Want to vote for "Frau Sixta by Ernst Zahn", but I'm thinking of a Sixta by another mister.

the body of a spider... (scampering alpaca), Wednesday, 16 December 2020 20:33 (four weeks ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Thursday, 17 December 2020 00:01 (four weeks ago) link

Was semi expecting a Silent Majority for Fitzgerald here but I guess it's no surprise Kafka would triumph on ILX

Wherein We Elect Our Favourite Novels of 1926

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 17 December 2020 16:21 (four weeks ago) link

Would've voted Woolf had I known it would be a landslide. Only 3 votes is criminal imo.

pomenitul, Thursday, 17 December 2020 16:22 (four weeks ago) link

Shout-out to whoever voted for the Dreiser, can't honestly say I think it deserves to win this field but it packs a punch and I'm glad it wasn't shut out

Guayaquil (eephus!), Thursday, 17 December 2020 16:26 (four weeks ago) link

ranked voting would be handy in polls with multiple worthy books, but I think Kafka still would've won.

Respectfully Yours, (Aimless), Thursday, 17 December 2020 17:42 (four weeks ago) link

I really want more Stein and Dreiser, also need to try Gide, but right now what an unfuckwithable 1925 lifeboat quartet:
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Mrs Dalloway by Virgina Woolf
The Professor's House by Willa Cather

dow, Thursday, 17 December 2020 18:49 (four weeks ago) link

The only Dreiser I've read is the Library of America volume comprised of Sister Carrie, Jennie Gerhardt, and Twelve Men: exxxcellent.

dow, Thursday, 17 December 2020 18:52 (four weeks ago) link

also the elite cadre, with Kafka at the top and Orwell quite possibly second, of writers who've stamped themselves into the imaginaire of people who've never read them

― Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Monday, December 14, 2020 7:43 PM (one minute ago)

Kafka is evading this tendancy these days, I think. "Read some effin Orwell", is how it mostly is.

― xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 15 December 2020 18:51 (three days ago) bookmarkflaglink

Just seen the following joke in The Simpsons. Lisa is outraged about something.

Lisa: This is Kafkaesque! Kafkaesque!
Judge: I've got my eye on you too
Lisa: Now it's Orwellian!

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Friday, 18 December 2020 18:38 (four weeks ago) link

Lol fair enough though if it's a season 10+ joke then I'm not sure it counts

xyzzzz__, Friday, 18 December 2020 18:43 (four weeks ago) link

It was more recent than that. Of course it means nothing, but the timing made me smile

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Friday, 18 December 2020 18:58 (four weeks ago) link


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