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Amèrica (1927)

de Franz Kafka

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Translated by Willa and Edwin Muir Foreword by E. L. Doctorow Afterword by Max Brod   Kafka's first and funniest novel, Amerika tells the story of the young immigrant Karl Rossmann who, after an embarrassing sexual misadventure, finds himself "packed off to America" by his parents.  Expected to redeem himself in this magical land of opportunity, young Karl is swept up instead in a whirlwind of dizzying reversals, strange escapades, and picaresque adventures.   Although Kafka never visited America, images of its vast landscape, dangers, and opportunities inspired this saga of the "golden land." Here is a startlingly modern, fantastic and visionary tale of America "as a place no one has yet seen, in a historical period that can't be identified," writes E. L. Doctorow in his new foreword. "Kafka made his novel from his own mind's mythic elements," Doctorow explains, "and the research data that caught his eye were bent like rays in a field of gravity."… (més)
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Si fugge da un paese che ci rifiuta in nome di una presunta colpa per approdare il un luogo del tutto nuovo, che sembra prospettare, finalmente, la realizzazione di tutti i nostri sogni e la piena accettazione del nostro modo di essere. Ma è solo un'illusione. L'America in cui il protagonista giunge, lungi dall'esser per lui terra di redenzione, replica alla perfezione tutto ciò che è sempre andato fuggendo e condannando. Solo in quel momento comprende d'esser un eterno disperso.
( )
  Carlomascellani73 | Oct 30, 2020 |
Franz Kafka broke off writing his first novel, Amerika, on January 24, 1913. Though one of the most famous stay-at-homes in literature, Kafka read widely including travel books. His absurdist novel Amerika begins with young Karl viewing the Statue of Liberty and feeling "the free winds of heaven” on his face. Within moments he is lost in the maze of the multiple levels of the ship looking for an umbrella he left behind. While this reminded me of Alice's initial fall into the rabbit hole it also alerted me that I was in a Kafka novel, albeit a slightly different type than I had read before.

The United States that Kafka depicts is more based upon myth than any real experience of the place. Certain odd details reveal one Continental impression of this land at a time when so many Eastern Europeans were emigrating. Drawing on a host of sources—including Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, and the poetry of Walt Whitman—and calling to the reader’s mind an even more formidable array of literary analogues—from William Shakespeare’s one play set in the Americas, The Tempest, to Henry James’s international novels, Kafka conjures an America more fabulous than factual. Appropriately enough, in Kafka’s America much of the action takes place in the deepest night, at the deepest levels of the subconscious and of the spirit.

Kafka seemed to intuit that being someone, or anyone, in the geographical vastness of America was not altogether different from the problem of being someone in the bureaucratic vastness of German-dominated Prague. Establishing an identity was, moreover, a problem compounded by the question of home, a question that was important both to the immigrant and to the Czech. “I want above all to get home,” Karl points out early in the novel. By “home,” he literally means the house of his Uncle Jacob but, figuratively, he is referring to that dream of a familiar place where he will feel secure, understood, accepted: the garden from which Karl, like Adam, has been banished. Because of his original sin, he has been condemned to wander the earth in search not only of a home, or refuge, but of justice and mercy as well. As he comes to realize, however momentarily, “It’s impossible to defend oneself where there is no good will.” What this sudden revelation suggests is that the absence of mercy, whether human or divine, makes justice impossible. Just as important, this situation renders all Karl’s efforts not only existentially futile but—and this is Kafka’s genius—comically absurd as well. The chance encounters that characterize the novel, the arbitrary exercise of authority by those who are in power (parents, uncles, head porters, and the like),the uncertain rules and regulations, and the various characters’—especially Karl’s—precarious status constitute Kafka’s fictional world.

That the Statue of Liberty holds aloft a sword instead of a torch and that a bridge connects New York City and Boston unsettle the reading by placing an essentially realist novel close to the realm of fantasy. Much of that fantasy is dark and disturbing, but by the end — first editor Max Brod says Kafka quit while on his intended last chapter — Karl has reached the wide open West, where he seems reborn as a bit actor in “The Nature Theater of Oklahoma.” Kafka would go on to write better and more labyrinthine tales, but his first novel is an intriguing vision of America. ( )
  jwhenderson | Apr 11, 2020 |
Le premier roman de Kafka, inachevé, comme beaucoup de ses œuvres. Etrange, inquiétant… Les qualificatifs ne manquent pas, mais difficile d’en faire une note de lecture. C’est un livre surprenant, un anti-roman d’apprentissage comme on lit souvent, le personnage principal, le jeune Karl Rossman étant un pauvre naïf sans volonté, qui ne sait pas choisir ses causes et se laisse ballotter par les circonstances et les rencontres de passage peu recommandables et plus futées que lui.
Si l’on commence par prendre en pitié le jeune Karl Rossman, on finit par le trouver bien horripilant dans sa mollesse, et lorsque le livre vire au loufoque et à l’improbable, on se demande où Kafka veut nous emporter, quelle allégorie il est en train de dessiner. Mais le roman restant inachevé, on en reste aussi comme lecteur au stade des conjectures. Etrange sensation que d’être abandonné par l’écrivain sur le bord du chemin, sensation d’inachevé, mais la seule certitude, c’est que Karl Rossman ne fera que tomber de Charybde en Scylla, puis encore Charybde, et encore Scylla, et encore…
  raton-liseur | Oct 23, 2018 |
From the moment Karl Rossman set his eyes on the statue of liberty you realize that nothing good expected to be there in the land of opportunities for him! One might fairly say of course you won't! It's Kafka! But that won't change the reality of the kind of troubles a 16 year old would face in a strange land packed with newcomers who are looking to find happiness and wealth in every possible way.
Karl is not there by his own will, being sent away from home for a mistake he made makes everything more complex. It doesn't matter if he is guilty of it or not, he is now there and need to survive.
It is so impressive how the writer illustrates a land he never been in. When the communications between the nations was not as strong as what it is now, while there was no TV or YouTube to learn the stuff from! But he does it in amazing detail. How people turn into what they never wanted to be and how the challenges of the new world make a slave out of them might somehow seem pessimistic but one cannot deny its reality.
The idea of reading all Kafka materials has always been bugging me in a way! Being aware that I am reading something the been left incomplete is disturbing to me! But in Amerika he did not need to finish the book to make a sense out of it. ( )
  GazelleS | May 11, 2016 |
Less weird than The Trial - but still Kafka! Ends with what must be the clunkiest metaphor in literature.
Read in Samoa June 2003 ( )
  mbmackay | Nov 28, 2015 |
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» Afegeix-hi altres autors (94 possibles)

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Kafka, Franzautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Čermák, JosefTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Bragg, BillIl·lustradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Brod, MaxEpílegautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Etting, EmlenIl·lustradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Gorey, EdwardAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Kelpe, PaulAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Kuhlman, GildaDissenyador de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Laughlin, JamesTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Lustig, AlvinDissenyador de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Mann, KlausPrefaciautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Muir, EdwinTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Muir, WillaFotògrafautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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As the seventeen-year-old Karl Rossmann, who had been sent to America by his unfortunate parents because a maid had seduced him and had a child by him

Als der sechzehnjährige Karl Rossmann, der von seinen armen Eltern nach Amerika geschickt worden war, weil ihn ein Dienstmädchen verführt und ein Kind von ihm bekommen hatte, in dem schon langsam gewordenen Schiff in den Hafen von New York einfuhr, erblickte er die schon längst beobachtete Statue der Freiheitsgöttin wie in einem plötzlich stärker gewordenen Sonnenlicht.
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Please distinguish between (i) this LT Work, Max Brod's original 1927 publication of Franz Kafka's Amerika, translated into English by Edwin and Willa Muir (New Directions, 1940); and (ii) the "restored text," edited by Jost Schillmeit, published as Der Verschollene: Roman in 1983, and translated into English by both Michael Hofmann (Penguin, 1996) and Mark Harman (Schocken, 2008). Thank you.
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Translated by Willa and Edwin Muir Foreword by E. L. Doctorow Afterword by Max Brod   Kafka's first and funniest novel, Amerika tells the story of the young immigrant Karl Rossmann who, after an embarrassing sexual misadventure, finds himself "packed off to America" by his parents.  Expected to redeem himself in this magical land of opportunity, young Karl is swept up instead in a whirlwind of dizzying reversals, strange escapades, and picaresque adventures.   Although Kafka never visited America, images of its vast landscape, dangers, and opportunities inspired this saga of the "golden land." Here is a startlingly modern, fantastic and visionary tale of America "as a place no one has yet seen, in a historical period that can't be identified," writes E. L. Doctorow in his new foreword. "Kafka made his novel from his own mind's mythic elements," Doctorow explains, "and the research data that caught his eye were bent like rays in a field of gravity."

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