Tag Archives: Franz Kafka

Master of the Day of Judgment

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Automn 1909 in Vienna. The famous actor Eugen Bischoff has invited a few friends to his villa for a Hausmusik evening (a tradition in many cultured German and Austrian homes). Together with his wife Dina, her brother Felix, his friend Doctor Gorsky, and the narrator Rittmeister von Yosch the amateur musicians play several pieces from the classical repertoire. A rather late arrival, the engineer Solgrub interrupts unintentionally the music performance, and the friends are starting to ask Bischoff about his new role, Shakespeare’s King Lear. Bischoff retires briefly to a garden pavilion pretending to need a short preparation time for giving his friend a short performance to show them how he understands this role. Suddenly, two shots are heard from the pavilion. When the alarmed company rushes to the place, they find Eugen Bischoff dead.

Was it suicide? Was it murder, as Solgrub believes? But then, the door of the pavilion was locked from the inside…Had the narrator a hand in it? After all he had a motif: four years ago, he had an affair with Dina and was madly in love with her. While Dina and Felix suspect at least an indirect involvement of von Yosch in the death of Eugen Bischoff, Solgrub points at several similarly mysterious suicide cases in the recent past. While all four male characters start – sometimes individually, sometimes together – to investigate about what’s behind the mysterious death of Eugen Bischoff, it turns out that more shocking events are going to happen. The key to resolving the mystery seems to be an old manuscript from the 16th century that tells the tale of an Italian painter, known as the Master of the Day of Judgment, a tale that gives an uncanny explanation to the mysterious events unfolding in the Vienna of the year 1909.  

It would spoil the fun to read this book if I would give away more details here regarding the plot. I enjoyed this book tremendously, for several reasons.

Perutz writes a very elegant prose, and this together with his ability to depict situations, people and the few unexpected twists and turns in the story made me devour this book in one sitting. I found it unputdownable (I like this English word!). Perutz knew the milieu about which he was writing very well, and I had the impression that he had a fine ear also for social differences and how they affect the way how people speak in the book – the use of dialect of a taxi driver; the switching to the familiar ‘Du’, but adding the for non-Austrians funny ‘Herr Rittmeister’ by a former army officer unknown to von Yosch when he is talking to the narrator, based on the simple fact that they served in the same military unit; the servile approach of the people working in the pharmacy; the extremely polite way of speech of the Sephardic money-lender; these are just some of the pleasures of this book.

Another thing that I liked: it is difficult to say to what genre this somehow hybrid book belongs, and I think this is one of its strengths – it so unlike most of other genre books you will read. It borrows elements of the mystery genre; it is also a variation of the locked door mystery; there are elements of horror that let me think of E.T.A. Hoffmann, Edgar Allan Poe, or even Stephen King. And it has also elements of a historical novel. Additionally, the narrator is a character with more facets as meet the eye in the beginning. Below the surface of the cultured, book and music loving man with a rich emotional life, is also someone who is strictly following the military code of honor, and to him the killing of a man in a duel for a rather trifling matter is not a big deal, a fact about which even his friends have no illusion.

And one more thing: the novel is also to be read in the tradition of the literary sub-genre “The Perpetrator as Investigator” that is quite popular in German literature: the main character is investigating a crime that he himself has (possibly) committed – Heinrich von Kleist’s Broken Jug, Heinrich Spoerl’s The Muzzle, or Heimito von Doderer’s Every Man a Murderer come to mind.

The last chapter, the remarks of the person who found von Yosch’s manuscript, give the text again a new possible interpretation. The story can be read as a mystery or fantasy novel; but the biggest mystery, as the novel advances is hidden in the souls of the characters of this book, and their obsessions with the horrors they faced in a certain moment of their lives, and with the feelings of guilt they experienced in traumatic situations. To quote a word by Edgar Allan Poe: “I maintain that terror is not of Germany (or in this case: Austria – T.H.), but of the soul.”

I read the book in German, therefore I can’t say anything regarding the quality of the translation.

Leo Perutz was born in Prague in 1882; he attended the same school as Max Brod and Felix Weltsch, two close friends of Franz Kafka, who were slightly younger than Perutz. Later he worked in Trieste (in a time when James Joyce and Italo Svevo lived there) as a mathematician for the same insurance company as Kafka. A compensation formula he worked out was for a long time used in insurance business all over the world (the ‘Perutz’sche Ausgleichsformel’). Just like Robert Musil, who left a mark outside the literary world (he invented the ‘Musil color top’), he was a man with more than one talent. Perutz was very successful as an author in Vienna in the 1920’s and 1930’s, but his Jewish origin made publication after 1938 impossible, and his emigration to Palestine where he felt cut off from the culture and language to which he belonged, made his life difficult. Additionally, he was opposed to the creation of the state of Israel and was supporting a bi-national solution for Palestine as a home for Jews and Arabs as well. In the 1950’s he started to travel to Austria again frequently. He died in 1957 in Bad Ischl, while visiting his old friend Alexander Lernet-Holenia.

If you haven’t read anything by Perutz, I can heartily recommend his books. And if you don’t trust me, trust Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino or Graham Greene who loved his books. Also Theodor W. Adorno, Ian Fleming, F.W. Murnau and Alfred Hitchcock were fans of Perutz. My personal Perutz favorite is By Night under the Stone Bridge, but also The Master of the Day of Judgment is excellent in my opinion.

Leo Perutz: Master of the Day of Judgment, translated by Eric Mosbacher, Pushkin 2015

This review is published in the framework of the 2017 edition of German Literature Month, organized again by Caroline from Beauty Is A Sleeping Cat and Lizzy from Lizzy’s Literary Life. A list with links to all published reviews by the participating bloggers can be found here.

#germanlitmonth2017

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-7. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bartleby & Co.

The hero – if I can call him that – and narrator of Bartleby & Co., a novel by the Spanish author Enrique Vila-Matas, is a failed writer who had published as a young man a novel on the impossibility of love. As a result of a personal trauma and the reaction of his surrounding to the publication of the book, he has become silent as an author, a modern Bartleby that spends most of his uneventful life in an office.

A misheard remark of a colleague (“Mr. Bartleby is in a meeting”.) triggers in him again an urge to write –  a novel in the form of footnotes on the representatives of what he calls “the Literature of the No”, a collection of aphorisms, short musings and essays, glimpses of personal memories, quotations from phone conversations with a friend or from letters of a writer, and recollections of meetings with other authors.

The 86 footnotes that form the biggest part of the text circle around those authors who at a certain moment in their lives “preferred not to” write any longer, and whom the narrator considers as brothers (although also a female author plays an important role, the “Bartleby syndrome” seems to be by far more widespread among male writers.).

The dull and uneventful life of the narrator, together with his tendency to bath sometimes in self-pity are frequently contrasted by remarks that made me smile. A good example which is typical for the “sound” of the book are the opening lines:

“I never had much luck with women. I have a pitiful hump, which I am resigned to. All my closest relatives are dead. I am a poor recluse working in a ghastly office. Apart from that, I am happy.”

The modern “Literature of the No” dates back to the 19th century when the two American writers (and friends) Melville and Hawthorne created their stories Bartleby the Scrivener and The Vicar of Wakefield, two stories about a rejection that in many ways foreshadowed

“future phantom books and other refusals to write that would soon flood the literary stage.” 

In his footnotes, the narrator explores famous examples of the “Literature of the No”, such as Robert Walser or Kafka; and while suicide or mental insanity seem to be among the most popular “strategies” for the Bartlebys among the authors, they are not held in particular high esteem by the narrator. He is definitely more interested in those cases where an author, while still alive simply disappeared from literature.

One of the most interesting things about the book is the abundance of examples of authors that are introduced to us readers; while I read many of them and know a few others by name, I discovered also plenty of seemingly extremely interesting writers particularly from the Spanish-speaking literature (mea culpa that I am not so well read in Spanish literature as I should considering the richness of this literary continent) who have fell silent at a certain moment in their lives. Felisberto Hernandez for example was not an author I had on my radar until now, but I will definitely look up what I can find about him. Another interesting author “without a work” is the Italian (non-)author Bobi Bazlen, whose name I came across once in Claudio Magris’ books about Trieste. 

I can imagine that one of the most annoying questions for an author must be the following: “What are you writing right now? On what are you working?”; or to an author who hasn’t published anything since a long time: “Why don’t you write again? What is the reason for your silence?” One of the best answers for me to the latter question is that of Juan Rulfo, an author for whose slender work I have the highest admiration:

“Well, my Uncle Celerino died and it was he who told me the stories.”

Not that this Uncle Celerino was an invention, he had really existed and was known as a big storyteller – but there must have been something else behind the silence of Rulfo, something about which he rather preferred not to speak.

Our narrator gives us also some examples of his own experience and research that includes a chance meeting with J.D. Salinger in New York, a visit at Julien Gracq’s home, but also personal memories about his childhood friendship with Luis Felipe Pineda, or his infatuation with Maria Lima Mendes, a very impressive example of a female representative of the “Literature of the No” (and possibly made up by Vila-Matas).

Hölderlin, Chamfort, Rimbaud, Larbaud, Hofmannsthal, Fernando Pessoa, Juan Ramon Jimenez, and many others make an appearance in these footnotes. And although as a reader we will not resolve in a single case the true reason for the silence of an author, we will have experienced an abundance of witty, comical, tragic, interesting anecdotes, stories, musings when we have finished this – obviously well-translated – book.

The narrator of this book (and its author) deserve a place at the Olympus of writers and non-writers of books. Who is able to write wonderful ironic passages like this one:

“I’ve worked well, I can be pleased with what I’ve done. I put down my pen, because it’s evening. Twilight imaginings. My wife and kids are in the next room, full of life. I have good health and enough money. God, I’m unhappy!

But what am I saying? I’m not unhappy, I haven’t put down the pen, I don’t have a wife and kids, or a next room, I don’t have enough money, it isn’t evening.”

and who is granting his happy-unhappy and rather unreliable narrator the equally ironic luck to complete this wonderful book about authors who fell silent, must be a great author himself. My first book by Vila-Matas, and for sure not my last. 

P.S. And what about those who wrote, but were rejected by too many publishers, and who therefore gave up on being published? Also here, our narrator is helpful. Send your rejected manuscript to the Brautigan Library, the brainchild of underground author Richard Brautigan, nowadays hosted at the Washington State University Vancouver. 

“The Brautigan Library accepts exclusively manuscripts that, having been rejected by the publishers who were sent them, were never published. This library holds only aborted books. Anyone with such a manuscript, wishing to submit it to the Brautigan Library or Library of the No, need only pop it in the post … I have it on good authority – though there they are only interested in bad authority – that no manuscript is ever rejected; on the contrary, there they are looked after and exhibited with the greatest pleasure and respect.”

Enrique Vila-Matas: Bartleby & Co., translated by Jonathan Dunne, New Directions, New York 2004

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Diary of a Country Prosecutor

Diary of a Country Prosecutor (also published under the title Maze of Justice) is a partly autobiographical short novel by Tawfik al-Hakim; it was first published in 1937. Al-Hakim based the book on his personal experiences as a Prosecutor.

The narrator is a young Public Prosecutor from Cairo that works in a small town in the Nile delta. He keeps a diary in which he describes his life and thoughts in this rather dull, boring place, surrounded by usually illiterate fellahin and a few a bit more wealthy traders and village dignitaries and state representatives, like the umdah, the local mayor, and the ma’mur, the officer in charge for the public order in the district. Some judges, ushers, legal assistants, and ghafirs (sentries) complete the cast of characters of this novel – almost. Because there are also two somehow elusive characters in the book: the beautiful peasant girl Rim and the mysterious and eccentric Sheikh Asfour who usually knows more about what’s going on than all representatives of the state together but who prefers usually to keep his knowledge for himself.

The book starts with a crime. Someone shot at Kamar al-Dawla Alwan, but there is no visible motif nor is there a suspect. The Public Prosecutor describes the investigation and it is soon obvious that the reader cannot expect a classical whodunit. In fact, the search for the perpetrator is not so much what drives the story, but the absurd way how the law is exercised.

It is revealing what the narrator says about the two judges with whom he is working. One is terribly slow and usually charges all defendants as guilty, the other is terribly fast (because he wants to catch the 11 a.m. train back to Cairo in time every day) and charges also all defendants as guilty. The law is based on the Code Napoleon, a foreign import completely alien to the fellahin who don’t understand anything about it.

“The usher went on calling out names. The type of charge had begun to vary and we were entering a different world, for the judge was now saying to the accused, ‘You are charged with having washed your clothes in the canal!’ – ‘Your honor – may God exalt your station – are you going to fine me just because I washed my clothes?’ – ‘It’s for washing them in the canal.’ – ‘Well, where else could I wash them?’ – The judge hesitated, deep in thought, and could give no answer. He knew very well that these poor wretches had no wash basins in their village, filled with fresh flowing water from the tap. They were left to live like cattle all their lives and were yet required to submit to a modern legal system imported from abroad. – The judge turned to me and said, ‘The Legal Officer! Opinion, please.’ – ‘The state is not concerned to inquire where this man should wash his clothes. Its only interest is the application of the law.’ – The judge turned his glance away from me, lowered his head, shook it and then spoke swiftly like a man rolling a weight off his shoulders: ‘Fined twenty piastres. Next case.’”

Even more outrageous is a case in which the ‘speedy’ judge is in charge:

“A decrepit bent-backed man with a white beard came forward, hobbling on a stick. The judge pounced on him with a question: ‘You expended reserved wheat?’ – ‘it was my wheat, your honor, and I ate it with my family.’ – ‘Pleads guilty. One month with hard labour!’ – ‘A month! Do you hear, Muslims! My own wheat, my own crop, my own property…!’ – The policeman dragged him away. As he went, he stared at those in court with goggling eyes as though he could not believe that he had heard the sentence aright. Surely his ears must have deceived him and the spectators must have heard the truth. For he had stolen no man’s wheat. It is true that the usher had visited him and ‘reserved’ his wheat, appointing him as a trustee until such time as he paid the government tax. But the pangs of hunger had seized him violently – him and his family; so he had eaten his own wheat. But who could possibly regard him as a thief on that account and punish him for stealing? It was impossible for this old fellow to understand a law which called him a thief for eating his own harvest, sown by his own hands. These were crimes invented by the law to protect the money of the government or of private creditors; but they were not natural crimes in the eyes of the poor farmer, whose simple instinct could not find any sin in them. He knows well enough that assault is a crime, and murder is a crime, and theft is a crime; for all these involve an obvious aggression against somebody else and reveal clear and evident moral turpitude. But ‘expending reserved property’ – and this was something whose principle and definition he could not grasp. For him it was purely a formal, legalistic crime, whose impact he must go on enduring without believing in it at all.”

Tawfik al-Hakim’s book is first of all a powerful attack on the state of the legal system in his home country, which didn’t even try to establish justice – but ‘the law’. It shows the situation in its full absurdity and frequently with a savage humor that borders the macabre: there is a scene where the town barber, under the supervision of the Public Prosecutor and a pathologist, is dragging corpse after corpse out of first one grave and then another in a muddled attempt to locate the body of a woman who has been murdered. ‘The comedy is grim, but comedy it is’, as Booker Prize Winner P.H. Newby says in his foreword to the edition I read. That someone is arrested for the murder that is clearly innocent, is just adding to the picture.

Al-Hakim was a liberal; he studied law in France in the 1920s and started a career as a Public Prosecutor in Egypt but got quickly very disappointed and pessimistic. He is today considered a classic of modern Arabic literature. He was the Arab world’s leading dramatist, as well as a major writer of novels and short stories. Diary of a Country Prosecutor (elegantly translated by the young Abba Eban, later to become a famous Israeli diplomat and politician) is a brilliant book in the tradition of Gogol and Kafka; and I am afraid that it hasn’t lost its relevance even today.

al-Hakim

 

Tawfik al-Hakim: Diary of a Country Prosecutor, transl. by Abba Eban, Saqi Books, London 2005

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-5. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

An incongruent thought

When Gregor Samsa wakes up as a “monstrous vermin” in The Metamorphosis he is wondering about what?

Right: How will I ever get to work on time?

 

 

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


From Bulgaria with Love

German Literary Spaces (Nемски литературни простори) is a new collection of essays by the Bulgarian poet, essayist, aphorist, and translator Venzeslav Konstantinov.

Konstantinov is one of those very important mediators between different countries, languages, cultures that make literature or other works from the cultural sphere accessible to us and whose work is so important and frequently underestimated. As for Bulgaria, a considerable part of the classical and modern literature in German language was translated and edited by Konstantinov and his translations are accompanied by essays that help the reader to understand the context of the work and the writer. Konstantinov is a particularly gifted translator of poetry. The “Bulgarian” poetry of Erich Kästner for example is so close to the original that it sounds as if Kästner has written the poems himself in Bulgarian.

A collection of twenty of Konstantinov’s essays on German literature is now published in the new book announced here. Each chapter is devoted to the work of one author, and the range of writers covers the period from the 18th century (the first essay in the book is devoted to Goethe) until today (an essay on Martin Walser concludes the book). All essays are comparatively short (five to ten pages), only the one on Elias Canetti (“From Rustschuk with Love”) is longer. And all of them make the reader curious to discover the work of the writer that Konstantinov is describing in the respective essay.

Konstantinov proves not only to be a congenial translator, but also a successful ‘literature seducer’, someone who knows how to wake up the wish in the reader to discover new literary horizons.

With two small critical remarks I want to conclude this review. First, it would have been great to make it clear that the essays are not dealing with the 20 most important German authors (there is for example no essay on Kafka, and an essay on Katja Mann instead of Thomas or Heinrich Mann). The essays reflect Konstantinov’s interests, and that’s absolutely fine. But they are not (and not meant to be) a systematic introduction to German literature. That’s in no way meant as a criticism of the author, but a short remark in this sense would be useful to readers that are not so familiar with German literature.

Additionally it would have been nice to mention if the essays were written for this book or if it is a collection of previously published articles. Nothing wrong with collecting previously published essays, it is even a commendable deed from the publishing house Iztok-Zapad (East-West) in Sofia. But as a reader I just want to know what exactly I am reading.

These remarks diminish in no way the excellent work by Venzeslav Konstantinov and his publisher. This collection of essays is worth reading and deserves a translation, and of course many Bulgarian readers.

Nemski_literaturni_prostori

Venzeslav Konstantinov: Nemski literaturni prostori (German literary spaces), Iztok-Zapad, Sofia 2014

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“I would prefer not to”

“That Herman Melville has gone ‘clean daft’, is very much to be feared; certainly, he has given us a very mad book…The sooner this author is put in ward the better. If trusted with himself, at all events give him no further trust in pen and ink, till the present fit has worn off. He will grievously hurt himself else – or his very amiable publishers.”

This grotesque reaction of a reviewer of a new work of Herman Melville, the author of  “Bartleby the Scrivener”, shows that something went indeed wrong with Melville. But he didn’t go mad – he did something even more unforgivable: he disappointed the expectations of his readers!

After his adventurous youth as a sailor and living on Pacific islands with cannibals, he became famous with adventure novels like Typee and Omoo. But instead of staying in this line of work and becoming a bestselling author, he delivered Moby Dick, an already very difficult to swallow piece of literature, too dark and too philosophical for the biggest part of the 19th century audience. And as if this was not already enough, he came up finally with one of the strangest literary heroes of all times: Bartleby.

What hasn’t been written about this story! Especially since the 1920s, when psychoanalysis and the publication of Franz Kafka’s (and Robert Walser’s with its countless office clerks) works lead to a Melville renaissance,

Melville’s oeuvre and especially Bartleby has been interpreted again and again – Bartleby, the psycho-pathological case study; Bartleby as a criticism of Thoreau’s flight from civilization; Bartleby as a self-portrait of Melville (who had to work as a customs officer after the publication of this story due to his falling out with the reading public of his time); Bartleby as a parable concerning the life of the artist in a world dominated by business interests (the story takes place mainly at Wall Street); Bartleby as a predecessor of Camus and existentialist philosophy; Bartleby as a modern Hiob or even Jesus (the story is full of biblical references). – And this is just a small choice of possible interpretations!

But this is not my main point here – Bartleby is one of the few cases in literature that is open to such a big variety of possible interpretations. So read it – in case you haven’t done it so far. Or re-read it again: it is just 60 pages, and at least for me one of the most unforgettable literary works ever.

Do not expect a longer review here:  “I would rather prefer not to”, as Bartleby used to say…Just read it!

Herman Melville: Bartleby the Scrivener, Hesperus Press (and many other editions)

bartleby

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

There Goes Kafka

There Goes Kafka” is a small but interesting collection of essays related to Franz Kafka and the circle of friends in the early 20th century Prague to which also the book’s author, Johannes Urzidil, belonged. Although a strictly biographical reading is not appropriate for an understanding of Kafka’s works, it helps to know about the background of his life and work and here Urzidil can add quite a lot of material that seems to be interesting to me.

Kafka is asking a friend in 1916, shortly after the publication of Metamorphosis (“Die Verwandlung”):

“What have you to say about the dreadful things going on in our house?” –

There Goes Kafka” is full of such details and it sheds also a light on some lesser known literary figures of the “Prague Circle”, an extremely interesting and productive group of (mostly Jewish) German-speaking authors. Ok, now we have the ultimate biography on Kafka by Reiner Stach, but I still like the small work by Urzidil – his “Goethe in Bohemia” is also excellent.

ThereGoesKafka

Urzidil’s style was very elegant and elaborated. Unfortunately the English translation is so awkward that it sounds sometimes almost like a parody. That’s a real pity. So, if you can, read the German original and let’s hope a publisher will give Urzidil’s work a new chance in the English-speaking world by commissioning a new – and better! – translation.

Johannes Urzidil: There Goes Kafka, Wayne State University Press 1968; Da geht Kafka, Langen & Mueller 2004

Da geht Kafka

 

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My ten favorite opening lines of books

“Edith loves him. More on this later.” (Robert Walser, The Robber)

“The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.” (Samuel Beckett, Murphy)

“Call me Ishmael.” (Herman Melville, Moby Dick)

“I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had… they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing;—that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;—and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost:—Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,—I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me.” (Lawrence Sterne, Tristram Shandy)

“All this happened, more or less.” (Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse 5)

“Granted: I’m an inmate in a mental institution.” (Günter Grass, The Tin Drum)

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.” (Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis)

“Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.” (Franz Kafka, The Trial)

“Justice?—You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law.” (William Gaddis, A Frolic of His own)

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” (Lev Tolstoy, Anna Karenina)

Feel free to share yours! 

 © Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.