FRANZ KAFKA short story: HOME COMING English text ENG

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Franz Kafka

Home coming

(short story)

 

 

I have returned,

I have passed under the arch and am looking around. It’s my father’s old yard. The puddle in the middle. Old, useless tools, jumbled together, block the way to the attic stairs. The cat lurks on the banister. A torn piece of cloth, once wound around a stick in a game, flutters in the breeze.

 

I have arrived.

Who is going to receive me? Who is waiting behind the kitchen door? Smoke is rising from the chimney, coffee is being made for supper. Do you feel you belong, do you feel at home? I don’t know, I feel most uncertain.

 

My father’s house it is, but each object stands cold beside the next, as though preoccupied with its own affairs, which I have partly forgotten, partly never known. What use can I be to them, what do I mean to them, even though I am the son of my father, the old farmer?

 

And I don’t dare knock at the kitchen door, I only listen from a distance, I only listen from a distance, standing up, in such a way that I cannot be taken by surprise as an eavesdropper. And since I am listening from a distance, I hear nothing but a faint striking of the clock passing over from childhood days, but perhaps I only think I hear it. Whatever else is going on in the kitchen is the secret of those sitting there, a secret they are keeping from me.

 

The longer one hesitates before the door, the more estranged one becomes.

 

What would happen if someone were to open the door now and ask me a question?

Would not I myself then behave like one who wants to keep his secret?

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Franz Kafka – Home coming

 

 

 

Franz Kafka

and his father

 

 

The figure of Kafka’s father overshadowed his work as well as his existence. The figure is, in fact, one of his most impressive creations. In his imagination this coarse, practical, and domineering shopkeeper and patriarch who worshipped nothing but material success and social advancement belonged to a race of giants and was an awesome, admirable, but repulsive tyrant.

 

In Kafka’s most important attempt at autobiography, Brief an den Vater (written 1919; Letter to Father), a letter that never reached the addressee, Franz Kafka attributed his failure to live, to cut loose from parental ties and establish himself in marriage and fatherhood, as well as his escape into literature, to the prohibitive father figure, which instilled in him the sense of his own impotence. He felt his will had been broken by his father.

 

The conflict with the father is reflected directly in Kafka’s story Das Urteil (1913; The Judgment). It is projected on a grander scale in Kafka’s novels, which portray in lucid, deceptively simple prose a man’s desperate struggle with an overwhelming power, one that may persecute its victim (as in The Trial) or one that may be sought after and begged in vain for approval (as in Das Schloss [1926; The Castle]).

 

Yet the roots of Kafka’s anxiety and despair go deeper than his relationship with his father and family, with whom he chose to live in close and cramped proximity for the major part of his adult life.

 

The source of Kafka’s despair lies in a sense of ultimate isolation from true communion with all human beings the friends he cherished, the women he loved, the job he detested, the society he lived in—and with God, or, as he put it, with true indestructible Being.  (from: Britannica biografy)

 

 

 

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