The essayist German Reiner Stach, born in 1951, is the author of the biography the most comprehensive published to date on Franz Kafka (1883-1924). It consists of three volumes, published by editions Fischer : Kafka – Die Jahre der Entscheidungen (” Kafka the decisive years “), 2002 ; Kafka – Die Jahre der Erkenntnis (” years of recognition “), 2008, and Kafka. Die frühen Jahre (” The years of youth “), 2014. Translated in English and Spanish, this monumental work has not yet been in French.
It is sometimes said that Kafka is the writer of totalitarianism, bureaucratic, own in the Twentieth century. How can he still relate to ours ?
The bureaucracy as it is described in The Trial or The Castle is neither fascist nor totalitarian. It is necessary to look at the text with a magnifying glass. Nothing works by the violence but by the surveillance, the destruction of intimacy. In The Trial, the victim will be psychologically destroyed before it can be physically. However, in the Twenty-first century, we observe a similar phenomenon. In every modern city are installed hundreds of thousands of cameras. Impossible to call without a third party doesn’t listen to you… There is the recognition facial computer, etc, that returns us to Kafka, but this time in a precise way, because it is exactly this practice of the power that he has described. The world of Kafka only becomes a reality today.
How the language of Kafka resonate to the ear drives the German current ? They think it is old-fashioned or very modern ?
Very modern. It has the advantage of being very simple, which makes the shot difficult to translate, all the translators say. But for an ear to German, this language reverberates very sober, clear, seemingly transparent. It was a like a cooler sound effect…