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1.Franz Kafka: Blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelor
This, to me, is Kafka’s funniest story.
Yes indeed! There is always a humour, however dark and absurd, in Kafka’s stories. Being funny does not preclude seriousness or depth. A story can be hilarious and desperately upsetting at the same time. And many other things besides. Kafka’s stories are big enough to invoke all manner of emotional and psychological responses. Surrealism can do that, coming as it does from a place beyond logic, a place where things can be many things at once. It can therefore open a person up to a wider perspective, a greater awareness. Prague (Kafka’s home) is a place where surrealism’s power has been acknowledged by various horrific regimes over the years: it has been outlawed there by both Nazis and Communists. Blumfeld is a powerful story, with space to wonder. The reader can consider it as an absurd allegory, as an evocation of mystery and magic, as a symbol of sexual repression, as an illustration of madness… as all of these at once and more. Like many of Kafka’s stories, Blumfeld was considered by the author to be unfinished but to me the story is complete. Kafka famously tried to ‘finish’ all of his stories once and for all by instructing his friend to destroy them after his death. Thankfully, he was prevented from adding that final full stop.