AMERIKA by Franz Kafka

AMERIKA

The Man Who Disappeared
by & translated by
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The last few years have produced new translations of Kafka’s masterpieces The Trial, The Castle, and now their unfinished successor (the first begun, and last published, of the three). Translator Hoffman’s introduction takes issue with both earlier English versions and their implication that Kafka’s treatment of the European fascination with America was to have been an essentially benign one. And, in fact, the murderous satiric thrust of Nabokov’s Lolita springs to mind as we follow the episodic misadventures of Czech teenager Karl Rossman: exiled to the younger country by his scandalized parents (after a housemaid seduces Karl and bears his child), “educated” in the pragmatic commercialism embodied by his fully Americanized Uncle Jakob, used and discarded by a succession of deceitful reality instructors and strong-willed women, and “fulfilled” by employment as a backstage technician for the garish cloud-cuckooland of “the Nature Theatre of Oklahoma.”

This strangest of Kafka’s major works may lack the concentrated power of his bleak symbolic studies of frustration and anomie, but its rich display of narrative energy unquestionably exemplifies both a thematic vein largely untapped and a road inexplicably not taken.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 2002
ISBN: 0-8112-1513-X
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: New Directions
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2002




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