The story of a man who became a beetle
Anyone who knows a little about European literature may know that in the history of European literature, there were two literary masterpieces “The Metamorphoses” with the same name in the past two thousand years . One is the long narrative poem “Metamorphosis” written by the ancient Roman poet Ovid at the beginning of the 1st century, that is, in AD 8, and the other is the early 20th century, that is, in 1912 by the Austrian modern novelist Franz Kraft. Card’s short story “The Metamorphosis”. But the two masterpieces are completely unrelated in terms of genre, subject matter, and creative technique. Ovid’s Metamorphoses is based on myths and legends, in which people or gods are often transformed into animals, plants and even stones. And Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” tells the story of a man turning into a beetle.
First, let’s introduce the storyline of Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”. The protagonist Gregor Samsa (the name in German: first name, last name) lives in an ordinary working family. In addition to his parents, he also has a sister, Grete, who is very close to him. Gregor worked as a traveling salesman for a company, supporting his family on his salary. When he woke up one morning, Gregor suddenly felt unable to get up, and then he found himself transformed into a huge beetle, with many of his calves stroking. He was shocked! But the first thing he is worried about is that if he can’t go to work in time, it will inevitably lead to people sent by the boss to come to the house for inquiries, which will directly affect his job. And how does he go to meet people in the company like this now? ! Soon, the assistant manager of the company manager came knocking on the door! The family, especially the father, was furious at the sudden incident of the son, and the mother was grieved. Gregor turned over helplessly and fell to the ground. He relied on those thin legs and slowly moved his body to the door, and used his teeth to open the door with difficulty. When his father saw him, he was so furious that he pushed him away. He pushed back. The mother immediately fainted to the ground! However, Gregor wanted to rush out of the room, keep the assistant manager, and beg him to say a good word in front of the manager and not to fire him! But the assistant was terrified as if he had seen a monster, so he ran out of the door and scurried away!
Gregor had to be locked in his room, hiding under the sofa, ashamed to see anyone. Only his good sister Grete is responsible for delivering meals and cleaning to him every day. Occasionally, when their eyes meet, they are not seen. As time went on, the habits of people in him decreased, and the habits of insects increased, crawling around alone, and even playing happily. But people’s basic thinking ability has not been completely lost . The mother wanted to open the door to meet him, but was repeatedly discouraged by her family, so she cried out angrily: I have to look at him anyway, “He is my unfortunate son!”.
The family had to quit the maid because the son lost his job, and everyone had to find low-paying jobs, including the father, who had been retired for five years. In view of Gregor’s growing lack of hope for improvement, his sister, who was most concerned about him, lost her patience first, and regarded the daily service as a burden and perfunctory! One day, Gregor slipped out of the room and happened to be seen by his father who had just returned home. His father was very angry. He picked up the apples next to him and smashed them on his back one by one, and one of them sank into his back. , causing Gregor’s fatal wound!
In order to reduce the financial burden of the family, some rooms in the family are vacated for renting out. When the three tenants were listening to Gretel playing the violin, Gregor sneaked in and planned to send his sister to music school in the future, his image shocked the tenants! They asked to check out right away!
Gregor has become a burden that the family is eager to get rid of ! The sister no longer wants to take care of him, and persuades the father to find a way to get rid of this “monster”. An old woman was hired as a part-time worker, and she was in charge of Gregor’s room. But this man was sloppy in his work, rude in language, and called Gregor a “dung beetle”! Before long, Gregor, who was already scrawny, finally died! His dry beetle corpse was swept into the trash by the old maid.
A disaster has finally passed, and the whole family is relieved. On a bright spring day, Samsa’s family of three happily took a tram to the suburbs for a spring outing for a day. When the youthful Gretel stretched out her strong arms and stretched her voice, the Samsa couple were delighted to see that their daughter “has turned into a beautiful girl with a plump figure”! This ending has the sound of Nietzsche’s “eternal loop”: one life is extinguished, another is thriving . The Hunger Artist, which Kafka wrote ten years later, has a similar ending.
The reason why Kafka’s works are profound, readable, and inexhaustible is that they are not only rich in connotation, but also often ambiguous and thus have multiple interpretations. Another point is that in some of Kafka’s main representative works, the author’s own figure is shaking, which is more intriguing. Therefore, when analyzing Kafka’s works, it is necessary to contact the author’s own thoughts and words and deeds. Next, we will interpret “The Metamorphosis” from different angles.
1912 was an epoch-making year in Kafka’s creative career. Why do you say this way? Because before 1912, Kafka also wrote some very short shorthand test papers, one or two pages, two or three pages, which can be called “little novels”. They were once assembled into a pamphlet, 16 in all, entitled “Observations”. None of them, however, have the hallmarks of modernism. But starting with the short stories “The Judgment” and “The Metamorphosis” in the autumn and winter of 1912, Kafka’s fictional works have always been modern or modern!
So what is used to measure or identify “modern” or “non-modern” literature? My answer is aesthetic characteristics and way of thinking.
In the history of European literature, there have always been two different types of aesthetics. According to the German literary theorist Oyrbach, one focuses on objective description, called the “Homeric method”, and the other focuses on subjective imagination. It is called the “biblical way”; the former is represented by Aristotle, Hegel, and Lukacs, while the latter is represented by Plato, Kant, and Freud. But since Aristotle put forward the “imitation theory” aesthetics, this claim has long reigned in Europe. It was not challenged until the beginning of the 19th century due to the rise of the Romantic movement, especially in the second half of the 19th century, when the “mimicry theory” was more seriously subverted with the rise of the Modernist movement. From then on, the subjective “expressionist” aesthetics quickly gained the upper hand. The rise of the company employee Kafka as a writer and the popularity of his novel The Metamorphosis are products of this zeitgeist .
The reason why “Metamorphosis” was able to gain the upper hand was due to the emergence of another factor, that is, the decline of traditional rational thinking and the emergence of irrational thinking. The so-called “irrational thinking” refers to thinking or speaking that does not follow the logic of normal life. The emergence of this phenomenon is related to the rise of modern psychology in this period. The founder of this discipline, the Austrian-Jewish psychologist Freud (1856-1939), put forward the concepts of subconsciousness and unconsciousness, and included dreams as an active factor in the category of creation, which led to the emergence of the concept of “inner universe” and Unlimited imagination. It is worth noting that both the transformation of the aesthetic form and the renewal of the way of thinking are expressed in the way of movement. For example, at the end of the 19th century and the first 30 years of the 20th century, the major schools in Europe have successively been the Symbolism movement, the Futurism movement, the Expressionism movement, the Dada movement, and the Surrealism movement. Among them, the most powerful, longest-running and most far-reaching Dang push mainly occurred in the expressionist movement in Germany and Austria. The movement began in 1910 and ended in 1924, with its climax between 1910 and 1920. The flourishing period of Kafka’s creation is almost the same as that of the Expressionist movement.
So, what are the main characteristics of expressionist creation? To sum up, the main points are as follows: first, pursue strong feelings; second, make good use of cruel pictures; third, make good use of artistic skills of symbols and metaphors; Is the pursuit of a magical plot ; and so on. It can be said that, except for the first point, “The Metamorphosis” covers all of these features, especially the fifth and sixth points, which are grotesque techniques and magical plots.
A technique that Western modernist literature likes to use is called “isolation method”, or “defamiliarization effect”, which is to use a technique to isolate things that people are familiar with, so that people can see things from another angle. It sometimes feels “unfamiliar” to look at it, leading to another conclusion or opinion. And “grotesque” is a common technique of “alienation”, which is a “good show” in the famous Swiss dramatist Dylan Matt.
The first line of The Metamorphosis captures the heart with explosive wonder: “One morning, when Gregor Samsa awoke from a restless sleep, he found himself transformed into a terrifyingly large animal. the beetle.” Is it a fairy tale? Read on – it’s a totally serious, heavy story. This is the alienation or defamiliarization effect achieved by grotesque techniques.
If the story were written in traditional realism, it would be: Gregor suddenly contracted an incurable disease, which was incurable for a long time, and his family gradually became bored, and finally wanted him to die soon. Writing in this way can also truly describe the scorching world of “no dutiful son in front of the bed for a long time”. Tolstoy’s famous novella “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” is written in this way.
However, now might as well compare it with “Metamorphosis”, which is more shocking and appealing? Probably the latter. The reason is very simple: the suddenness and tragic nature of the protagonist’s transformation process and the inability to respond verbally and expressively to relatives who gradually dislike him after transformation can especially affect the readers’ emotions.
As mentioned earlier, “The Metamorphosis” is a product of the expressionist movement, which does not mean that this work belongs only to expressionism. What makes Kafka so fascinating is that his work is closely related to the major genres of the 20th century, such as symbolism, surrealism, and post-World War II absurdism, dark humor, magic realism Wait.
Here I mainly talk about the relationship between The Metamorphoses and existential literature.
Existentialism is the only literary trend that did not take the form of a movement. Kafka himself never said which philosophical school he belonged to or which philosophical point of view he held, but as an intelligent Jew who grew up in German cultural circles and was always educated in German culture, he loved philosophical thinking. There are many proverbs, notes, diaries, letters, etc. left in this regard. When he first read the works of Kierkegaard, the founder of existentialism, he felt “friend-like” in his youth. The atheist existentialist philosopher Sartre is a generation younger than Kafka, but Kafka’s name is the most mentioned in Sartre’s writings. Therefore, which philosophical trend or school a writer’s creation belongs to depends not on his subjective declaration, but on the characteristics of his works.
The feature of existentialist creation is to reveal the living conditions faced by people, especially the “individual in crisis”, that is, once a person is caught in some kind of difficult predicament, how he will think, how he will feel, and how he will act. When Gregor woke up and was thinking of going to work on time, he suddenly found that he couldn’t get up, not because of illness, but because he had turned into a disgusting monster! But at this time of disaster, the first thing he thought of was not shouting and calling his family to send him to the emergency room, but how to get rid of the current predicament and be able to go to work on time in order to keep the share of maintaining his family. life’s work. And how to deal with the person in charge of the company who is about to be held accountable? This is the most important thing. And when the company comes, he can see it if he doesn’t want to see it! To see, how did he appear in this image? If you don’t see it, your job will definitely not be guaranteed! In the face of the “dilemma” of keeping his job or his face, he still made the choice of keeping his job and sacrificing his dignity in order to retain the newcomer, and begged him to say a few good words to the company to keep the family’s source of livelihood—— Work. So he desperately went out and moved his body to the door with extreme difficulty; he couldn’t open the door, and he had to pick the lock with his teeth even harder! Who knew that the result backfired, and instead scared the other party away! What kind of psychological taste, what kind of life feeling! This thrilling process, let the readers feel the pain!
Looking at Gregor again, being locked in the room has been ashamed of himself and ashamed to see people. Whenever there is any movement, he immediately hides under the sofa, and he tries his best to pull down the sheet on the sofa to cover it up. But even so, it’s still not foolproof, and sometimes he is caught by his sister who delivers food and water. Who can understand his embarrassment? If it weren’t for “transformation”, it would be impossible to receive such a hot “presence” effect and exciting artistic appeal!
In this section, we introduce the era background and storyline of “Metamorphosis”, and in the next section we will introduce the genre of “Metamorphosis”.
A silent cry against the slavery of capital
Kafka was a writer with a strong sense of social justice. He clearly wrote in his diary: “The writer is the scapegoat of the people.” He believed that the writer was to speak for the people . He himself came from a middle-class capitalist family, but on both sides of the labor-capital antagonism, he clearly stood on the side of the working masses.
In his famous long letter “To the Father” written in 1919, in response to his father’s scolding of the family’s workers as “wage enemies”, Kafka countered tit for tat: Then you are “the paid enemy.” enemy” ! When Gregor found himself transformed into a giant beetle one morning, his first thought was not how to get out of this hurricane, but he was still obsessed with the need to get to work on time, otherwise the harsh, accustomed “sitting” The manager who is “on the table” giving orders will be rude to him, not to mention that his father still owes the manager a debt! It can be seen how hard he usually works to keep this job in the company! How frightened he was in front of the company’s bosses. No wonder when the assistant manager of the company came to ask the guilt, he tried his best to try to open the door to see him, so that the assistant could have a good word for him in front of the manager. Unexpectedly, it backfired, he finally opened the door, but his strange appearance scared the other party away! But this crooked move has fulfilled his subconscious wish: to drive away such a powerful opponent who controls his destiny! This tense and splendid description undoubtedly reflects the author’s protest against the evils of capital’s rule, and makes the protagonist who was personally victimized send out a silent cry!
In the Western world, since Nietzsche declared “God is dead”, a huge value vacuum has been left. Philosophers rarely meet co-synchronizers and feel lonely, and Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, etc. are not married because of this . Kafka, who resonated with these former sages, also believed that he could not find “food” that suits his “appetite” in this world, that is, the nourishment of thought or the laws of civilization, so he was “greatly tempted” by loneliness, and even took the initiative to “invest in it”. Lonely Embrace” (1916.9.16 “Letter to Phyllis”).
As early as 1907, he wrote to a female friend so bluntly, “I don’t even have the kind of interest in people that you demand of me.” Therefore, he confessed in a diary: “I am hard from the outside, but cold on the inside.” He even said in his conversation with Janosch that he had “strayed into the world”.
Therefore, he described such a feeling in a letter: “I am separated from everything by an empty room, and I have not once touched its boundaries.” You may recall that this is also written in the novel. Scene: Gregor crawls around, leaving trails of animal slime, which makes the sister and mother think: Gregor needs more space. So the two spent half a day working together to move the closet to make room for Gregor.
According to Kafka, loneliness is not just the feeling of thinkers, but the fundamental condition of man . His famous diary even went so far as to say: I am stranger than a stranger in my own home. Now he uses a hypothetical demonstration to tell people: Don’t look at my mother’s special love for me, my sister and I are also siblings. But once I lose the ability to work, the family’s supporters become the burden of the family, look, they will leave me one by one! Through the novel Metamorphoses, Kafka convinced us with his irrefutable logic of life and brilliant narrative.
Samsa’s family of four, with the ordinary salary of the eldest Gregor, lived an affluent life in peace and stability, and even had the conditions to hire a maid. So Gregor became the family’s only spiritual support. Who knows, the sky is unpredictable! One morning, such a sudden and unheard of strange thing would happen, and it would completely disrupt the order of the whole family at once. Moreover, with the passage of time, the situation not only has no hope of getting better, but worsens day by day, so that it is irreversible and will never be recovered!
He was originally a good news for the whole family, but soon became a disaster and drag on the whole family: three idlers, young and old, had to find a job with a low income each! What’s more, because of the existence of this scary thing, even the house in the family can’t be rented out. So a chilling irony happened: the younger sister who cared about her brother the most, Grete, the sister who was so enthusiastic about delivering food, water, and cleaning to the unfortunate brother, now she perfunctory her with sour food!
In the end, it was she who declared “this is a monster” and mobilized her father to “must get it away!” “It’s killing us!”, which literally forced the unfortunate brother to die! Naturally, Gregor doesn’t have room to survive here anymore. Finally, he left this world with the skinny “dung beetle” body. This tragic story immediately resonated with the folk proverb that “there is no dutiful son before the bed for a long time”.
In Western modern thought, alienation is an important philosophical topic and literary theme. Alienation means that something deviates from its inherent track, gradually mutates, and finally moves towards its opposite, thereby forming a transcendental force that is alien and unfamiliar to people. And this paradoxical transcendental power is precisely caused by the behavior of human beings themselves: if you do not build a society, everyone will be free and equal; if you do not create production tools, you will live in harmony with nature; if you do not engage in science Inventions, you don’t have to worry about when the earth will be destroyed by nuclear weapons, you don’t have to complain about the lack of authentic food and vegetables, and you don’t have to feel embarrassed in front of intelligent people who beat the chess champion; and so on.
Kafka never mentioned the concept or the word “alienation”, but he sensed the existence of this transcendent force that led to “alienation”. He once said to his young friend Janosch: We do not know where the constantly moving ties of life will take us, we are objects, objects, not like living people .
Plus, like a stranger who has fallen into this world, he expresses surprise at everything. Melena, his girlfriend in his later years, recalled: “He thought money, exchanges, bill offices, typewriters—these were absolutely mysterious… He seemed to be a completely naked man in the midst of well-dressed people. “That is to say, Kafka does not accept this strange world. He was particularly distressed by the complex social structure and bureaucratic system formed in modern society. In his conversation with Janosch, he left these powerful words: “Capitalism is a process from the inside out, from the outside to the inside, from the top to A system of subordination from bottom to top, everything is divided into hierarchies, everything is in chains.” (Janosch: “Kafka Speaks to Me”) Yes, it binds people’s behavior to dense , so that often do a small thing, it will make you run away! The atheist existentialist philosopher Sartre believes that this human existence is “sticky” and “disgusting”.
It is not difficult to understand why Kafka did not hesitate to use his 230,000-word novel “The Castle” to describe the living conditions of contemporary human beings. Milan Kundera pointed out: Kafka does not think about what is the intrinsic motivation that determines people’s behavior. What he asks is a fundamentally different question, namely , what is human possibility in a situation where external stipulations have become so heavy that one’s internal dynamics are of no help.
Another major feeling Kafka has about the real world is the unfamiliarity of interpersonal and even human relations. In the real world, people become more and more hypocritical, lose true affection and even family affection, even in the same family, the father, son, brother and sister are jointly maintained by money or some kind of interest. Think about how many seemingly happy and harmonious families have quarreled with each other once their elders died. This phenomenon has become commonplace! No wonder Kafka even felt “stranger than a stranger” in his own home.
Kafka’s family belonged to the bourgeoisie. Marx and Engels famously said in the “Communist Manifesto”: “The bourgeoisie tore the veil of tenderness shrouded in family relations and turned them into pure money relations.” (Complete Works of Marx and Engels)
But it is worth noting that the family in “Metamorphosis” is a laborer’s family. That is to say, in Kafka’s writings, the intimate relationship between people, including relatives, is only an appearance, and once the bond of money is removed, this relationship will soon become or alienated to be similar to animals. relationship, and not yet a mammal, but an insect without emotional feedback!
On the other hand, man himself, that is, Gregor himself, gradually lost his human characteristics when he lost the care of his relatives, and acquired “insect nature”: in this process of alienation, Gregor initially found The abnormality of his own voice started, and then he gradually felt fun while crawling, so he “was getting happier as he climbed”, so much so that he crawled on the ceiling, sometimes hanging from the ceiling and swinging, playing with himself. up. From then on, he became “without any sense of shame, crawling on the clean floor” without any scruples, and finally “vomited all the food he ate.” That is to say, he has become an “inhuman” who doesn’t eat human fireworks!
With Gregor’s transformation from human to worm, Samsa’s family, first of all, the younger sister who loved her brother the most, also completed the process of recognizing her brother’s “worm” nature, and tried her best to persuade his parents to agree her opinion. “‘Dear mother and father,’ said my sister, tapping her finger on the table, ‘it can’t go on like this. You may not see this clearly, but I can see through it. I wouldn’t say my brother in front of this monster. name, so I just want to say: We must try to get rid of it. We have done our best to take care of it, tolerate it, and I don’t think anyone can blame us in the slightest.'” As a parent The father immediately stated: “What she said is absolutely true.” This means that Gregor has been abandoned by the whole family as a bug, a “dung beetle”!
Austrian Marxist literary critic En Fischer pointed out: “Kafka is afraid of this alienation, he is nervous about the horror of this anti-natural phenomenon, and his works are endless variations on this theme.” (En Fischer’s “From Greerpatzer to Kafka” in German) The French literary critic Roger Garlotti wrote a book after studying Kafka, entitled “On Boundless.” The Realism of Realism, which states: “Kafka confronts the alienation of all institutions with a world that never ends, the insurmountable discontinuity of things that always keep us in suspense. He wants neither to simulate the world nor to explain the world, but seeks to recreate it with enough richness to destroy its flaws and to provoke our unquenchable demands to come out of this world in search of a lost home.”
There is an idiom in China, which is called “unpredictable situation in the sky, disaster and good fortune for people”. Anyone may encounter a sudden blow at any time in their life, such as: an unexpected car accident causing lifelong disability; a sudden disease that is found to be incurable; an unexpected earthquake or other natural disasters, forever lost. labor capacity; and so on. In this case, you may experience various turbulent world conditions, such as: the lover you just talked about, the other party announces that they will not talk anymore; the married person announces that they will not continue with you; and so on. At this time, these unfortunate people will suddenly feel that they have fallen from the sky to the ground, and they will suddenly change from upright people to aliens other than human beings. They have no human dignity. At this time, they were no different from Gregor who became a giant beetle! Aren’t many of them going to be destroyed step by step because of this? It is no wonder that some people say that Kafka was a prophet, and his heinous execution scene in his novel “In the Exile Camp” (a translation of “In the Exile”) was the first whip for the atrocities of German fascists in the near future.
Kafka once said in his diary: I always want to express those things that are not easy to express, to convey those things that are not easy to convey. Therefore, symbols and metaphors have become important means of artistic expression for him to solve this creative problem. Therefore, the metamorphosis created by him through “Metamorphosis” can be said to be a metaphor or symbol for all the unfortunate or unfortunate people in the world.
In this section, I mainly introduce the sense of loneliness and strangeness in The Metamorphosis, as well as the metaphorical value of his works. In the next section, I will introduce to you the artistic expression techniques of Kafka’s works.
The Narrative Art of “The Metamorphosis”
Why is an absurd story like The Metamorphosis so exciting to read? This involves Kafka’s superb artistic expression skills.
1. The shocking impact effect
Kafka told a classmate named Pollack when he was in middle school: To be creative is to make people feel like getting a slap on the forehead after reading it. He later wrote in his diary: Writing is like holding an “ice-breaking axe” in a frozen heart and slashing and breaking. To sum up, this aesthetic thought of Kafka is to pursue a strong shocking effect. The beginning of The Metamorphosis is the best embodiment of his aesthetic pursuit.
2. The details under the absurd framework are real
If an absurd story is written about “a land of nowhere” and things that cannot be found in the world, who would want to read it? But Kafka has this kind of ability: what he writes is obviously absurd, but it makes people feel real and moving when reading. What’s the trick? There are the following two points. First, the authenticity of the character prototype. A recognized feature of Kafka’s work is that all of his important works are somewhat autobiographical. The family of four in “The Metamorphosis” is a microcosm of Kafka’s family of six at first glance: the father’s culture is not high, he speaks a little rudely, and has obvious paternalism; the mother is a good wife and a loving mother; the third The younger sister is sturdy, beautiful, and intelligent, and she gets along well with her older brother. Just missing two younger sisters that Kafka didn’t like so much. Second, the details of the description of the truth. Because of the familiarity with the character characteristics of several main characters, the writing of their voices, smiles, and life details is also vivid and vivid. Here’s a mother and daughter trying to remove the furniture in Gregor’s room, trying to remove the frame of a portrait of a lady hanging on the wall, and Gregor trying to stop it:
The mother and daughter returned not long after, and Gretel took her mother’s arm and almost supported her whole body. “What are we taking now?” Gretel said, looking around. Then her eyes met Gregor’s on the wall. Perhaps it was only because of her mother’s presence that she controlled herself. She lowered her head and turned her face to prevent her from looking around. Without thinking, she said in a trembling voice, “Come, let’s go back to the living room for a while.” Goyle understood Gretel’s intentions, she wanted to take her mother to safety and drive him off the wall. Alright, let’s try her out! He was clinging to his paintings. He would rather jump on her face than let his painting be taken away.
But Gretel’s words made her mother uneasy. She stepped aside and caught a glimpse of the huge brown patch on the patterned paper. Before she realized that she was seeing Gregor, she shouted in a hoarse voice. Said: “Ah, God, ah, God!” After speaking, she spread her arms, as if giving up everything, and fell on the sofa, not moving again. “You, Gregor!” said the sister, raising her fist and looking straight at him. These were the first words she said to Gregor after his transformation. She ran into the next room, fetched a bottle of perfume, and tried to use it to revive her mother; Gregor wanted to help too—there was still time to save the painting—but he was glued too tightly to the glass, passing by It was a great struggle to let go; then he too ran into the next room, as if he could still give his sister some advice as before; but he couldn’t do anything, and had to stay behind her idly, and She was searching among the various bottles; when she turned, she was startled, and a bottle fell to the ground and shattered; a fragment cut through Gregor’s face, something The pungent potion splashed his face; Gretel took as many potions as he could, and ran to his mother’s room shortly after, kicking the door shut. Now Gregor is separated from his mother, who may be dying because of his sin; if he doesn’t want to drive his sister away from her, he can’t open the door; he can only wait, what else Can’t do it either; tormented by self-blame and worry, he started to crawl, he crawls on walls, on furniture, on ceilings, everywhere, and finally he despairs, as if the whole room is surrounding him As he spun, it fell to the center of the table with a snap.
This wonderful description is completely realistic. We seem to be able to feel the voices and smiles of several characters, and even hear their breathing and gasping, which is no different from daily life. This way of writing is not easy to see in ordinary modernist writers. This depends on the solid foundation of Kafka.
3. The Magical Use of “Black Humor”
Simply put, “dark humor” is laughter with pain, or laughter with tears in it. Here I want to add that black humor is also called gallows humor. According to legend, there was a man who was sentenced to be hanged and was about to be executed. The gallows was crowded with people watching the fun. Finally, the man who was about to be hanged laughed when he saw so many people watching his fun and said, : “You can’t watch it without me.” This is black humor. When a person is dying, he still wants to be humorous with everyone, what is his feeling in his heart, this is called laughter with tears. Gogol also used this technique, so Lu Xun praised his tearful laugh as a superb technique, and Kafka also brought this tearful laugh to the extreme.
Kafka is a master at writing dark humor. Take the above description as an example, it is nothing more than a short play of black humor. Despite the disaster, Gregor still has Yaxing to try to protect the beautiful painting he usually loves, but this act unexpectedly cost his mother a lot. He went to save her to no avail, but let himself Also fell bloody! Makes people want to laugh and can’t laugh! This way of making people want to laugh but can’t laugh, or make people laugh with tears in their eyes, is called “black humor”. At the beginning of the novel, Gregor was so focused on seeing the assistant manager that he spent a lot of effort and finally opened the door. Unexpectedly, his image frightened the other party so much that he ran away in a hurry! This is also a description of black humor.
When reading Kafka’s other works, be it novels or short stories, pay attention to this technique. This artistic technique of Kafka had a great influence on the later world literature, so that in the 1960s the novel genre of “black humor” appeared in the United States. Of course, the creator of “black humor” was not Kafka, but Kafka’s successful application inspired many modern writers.