Kafka describió anticipatoriamente en sus relatos cómo el hombre actual, en esta era de la economía y la exclusión social, sufre la discriminación y los estragos del autoritarismo del Estado. El mensaje literario kafkiano, con personajes de ficción de la década del 20, vislumbró las formas que iba a tener en el siglo XXI lo absurdo, increíble, oscuro y el sinsentido, a veces, del contrato social.
Eso que no se comprende, podría ser la maldad, la violencia, las adicciones y otras fallas de la condición humana. Pero la ciencia, ni la política, controlan los desatinos de algunos procesos que segregan con murallas y excluyen al diferente por país, raza, religión o condición social.
La voz del psicoanalista Lacan se hizo oír sobre el nuevo orden internacional: “En la sociedad todo lo que existe está fundado en la segregación” y agregó: “Nunca se ha terminado completamente con la segregación (…). Nada puede funcionar sin ella”. Para Lacan la segregación es el orden de “los puestos simbólicos, los puestos con que se perpetúa la raza de los amos”.
A todo esto Kafka lo intuyó desde la literatura, contando sobre los nuevos discursos amos de la exclusión.
Franz Kafka (Jewish name: אנשיל, Anschel; 3 July 1883 – 3 June 1924) was a German-language writer of novels and short stories, regarded by critics as one of the most influential authors of the 20th century. Most of his works, such as “Die Verwandlung” (“The Metamorphosis”), Der Process (The Trial), and Das Schloss (The Castle), are filled with the themes and archetypes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality, parent–child conflict, characters on a terrifying quest, labyrinths of bureaucracy, and mystical transformations.
Kafka was born into a middle-class, German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In his lifetime, most of the population of Prague spoke Czech, and the division between Czech– and German-speaking people was a tangible reality, as both groups were strengthening their national identity. The Jewish community often found itself in between the two sentiments, naturally raising questions about a place to which one belongs. Kafka himself was fluent in both languages, considering German his mother tongue.
Kafka trained as a lawyer and after completing his legal education, obtained employment with an insurance company. He began to write short stories in his spare time. For the rest of his life, he complained about the little time he had to devote to what he came to regard as his calling. He regretted having to devote so much attention to his Brotberuf (“day job”, literally “bread job”). Kafka preferred to communicate by letter; he wrote hundreds of letters to family and close female friends, including his father, his fiancée Felice Bauer, and his youngest sister Ottla. He had a complicated and troubled relationship with his father that had a major effect on his writing. He also suffered conflict over being Jewish, feeling that it had little to do with him, although critics argue that it influenced his writing.
Only a few of Kafka’s works were published during his lifetime: the story collections Betrachtung (Contemplation) and Ein Landarzt (A Country Doctor), and individual stories (such as “Die Verwandlung“) in literary magazines. He prepared the story collection Ein Hungerkünstler (A Hunger Artist) for print, but it was not published until after his death. Kafka’s unfinished works, including his novels Der Process, Das Schloss and Amerika (also known as Der Verschollene, The Man Who Disappeared), were published posthumously, mostly by his friend Max Brod, who ignored Kafka’s wish to have the manuscripts destroyed. Albert Camus, Gabriel García Márquez and Jean-Paul Sartre are among the writers influenced by Kafka’s work; the term Kafkaesque has entered the English language to describe existential situations like those in his writing.
Speaking from the Bodleian Museum in Oxford, Ritchie Robertson, the Oxford academic who is a Consulting Editor for Interlitq, discusses The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, the Czech author who was born today in history, 3 July, 1883, and states that the novel, “…one of the key works of modern literature…resists complete explanation.”