In my German 1300 course I am currently writing an essay on interpretations of Franz Kafka’s In der Strafkolonie (In The Penal Colony). As a philosopher I naturally research Kafka like I do other meaningful material, with the supposition of truth. And there is no ambiguity in this particular work of Kafka, it can only support one interpretation and still make sense. I am currently leaning towards the thoughts of Ingeborg Henel, on this one.
It also made me realize that Kafka had a (or more) literary project(s). From my own prejudice, I always thought he wrote semi-automatically. On the contrary, they are very well thought-out. He just lacked the confidence to follow through. His projects are philosophical in nature, and as such, I am quite capable of shooting them down.
Before I started this tiresome adventure in German, I found Kafka an interesting storyteller, but a poor writer. See: Thoughts after reading Kafka’s "The Trial". Today I stand corrected. His stories are profoundly ignorant from a philosophical point of view, most probably from his life defining father issues, but quite competently executed. Let us not forget the goatse either. And so, having delved further into the tales of Kafka, this time in is own language, I am further strengthened in my conviction that he was a pathetic and decadent fucked up little twat.
But this superficially gruesome metaphor of his is the key to understanding that, so it comes highly recommended from yours truly. After you’ve read it, you can move on. Kafka does not matter to you any longer.
EDIT 12th of May 2012:
The English translation provided above is pretty simple. For example, the tell-tale quote "Die Schuld ist immer zweifellos." has been moderated to the literal: "Guilt is always beyond a doubt.", when I find it should be "Guilt is always beyond question." To say that it is beyond doubt indicates prior investigation, which is exactly what Kafka indicates is NOT the case. It is unquestionable from the outset, in that it does not make sense to question its truth. We are talking about a universal always valid truth here and not a "Basic principle". But what do I know, I’m just a philosopher:)