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So Much More Than Kafkaesque

It is as difficult to give a succinct description of Robert Crumb and David Zane Mairowitz’s Kafka as it is to give a succinct description of Mr. Franz Kafka himself. Kafka begins with a quote from one of his diary entries, “The image of a wide pork butcher’s knife, swiftly and with mechanical regularity chopping into me, shaving off razor-thin slices which fly about due to the speed of the work.” The accompanying picture is in the style of a black and white graphic novel and is as evocative of visceral emotion as his disturbing fantasy of his own death.

The authors of Kafka are concerned that the complexity of their subject is often boiled down into a single adjective:  Kafkaesque. The authors claim this word has come to be embraced by the *gasp* uneducated masses as anything with a sense of “doom and gloom,” and is evidence that Kafka has been “over –interpreted and pigeon-holed” by critics and regular folk alike.

In spite of the somewhat elitist reclaiming of the Kafkaesque adjective, the book overall is not inaccessible; it merely takes Kafka as seriously as he took himself, though is capable of some ironic humor.  The joy of reading Kafka is in its complexity and unwillingness to be pinned down. It is part biography, part summation of major works, part graphic novel, and much more. I haven’t read nearly enough of Kafka’s writing to feel like an authority on his works, but I was nevertheless fascinated and inspired. The authors don’t glorify Kafka to a saint like status (he would have hated that) but instead show the troubled genius that can emerge from a troubled man in troubled times.

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Or to see what we have available by Mr. Kafka:  http://cucatalog.org/polaris/search/searchresults.aspx?ctx=6.1033.0.0.7&type=Keyword&term=kafka,%20franz&by=AU&sort=RELEVANCE&limit=TOM=*&query=&page=0

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