Friday, 10 August 2012

Bohemian Rhapsody

Will Self! I am crushing on the man as we speak. A friend said she might be able to get me his address, to which I intend to send a small selection of the books I've translated, in a non-stalky way. Does sending unrequested hardbacks by post count as stalking?

So first the guy writes this great venomous passionate piece in the Guardian about how Modernism is ace and contemporary British literature is stolid. And then there's this amazing, amazing thing. It's a digital literary essay by Will Self, about Kafka, mainly, and mainly about Kafka's story 'The Country Doctor'. The essay would be good in itself. But it's underlaid and overlaid and woven through with digital content - the original story, Michael Hofmann's translation, specially made documentaries featuring Will Self wandering around Prague, specially commissioned music, dance and theatre, animations, archive material, and just so much stuff that I can't list it all because that's all part of the fun.

It's called Kafka's Wound. You need to go there. You need to set aside at least one full evening to explore. I started last night and I've read the essay twice now - it's fascinating and there is much to disagree with and much to nod at. But I haven't finished yet. For translators, there's a 105-minute video of top translators Anthea Bell and Joyce Crick discussing the work of translating from German and translating Kafka in particular, filmed in London this past spring. I also need to revisit the audio material, specifically Willa Muir and Judith Butler. I may have to reread Catch-22 but perhaps not. I may be gone some time.

What a wonderful invention, speaking of next literature™. Also, look out for a very good humorous typo and the bit where Will Self nearly gets beaten up by a bearded denim-clad Czech.

If you have less time on your hands, you could alternatively read this short comic about Daniel Kehlmann's Measuring the World, surely an object lesson on German humour for Will Self, were he able to read German, which he assures us he isn't. You'd like it, Will.


Samuel Willcocks said...

I had seen the piece on Modernism (and loved what he had to say about Ballard) but had missed entirely the Kafka meta-essay - thanks for the pointer!

I recently had to come up with a new version of the last line of Landarzt, for a short prose piece for the next Seagull Books catalogue. In the end I settled for: "When the bell rings a false alarm at night, once heeded it can never be put right."

Ashes upon my head for introducing extraneous rhymes into Kafka's prose...

kjd said...

Oh, I don't know - rhyming Kafka might make the humour shine through.