Kafka's first novel, though unfinished, traces the struggles In Amerika, Franz Kafka indeed satirizes American ideals by absurdly portraying. FRANZ KAFKA'S AMERICA. AMERIKA. HAS BEEN CALLED Franz Kafka's “ Sorgenkind,” or problem child. It was his earliest effort in the novel form and was . Amerika. Deutsch. Book ID: Amerika. Book cover may not be accurate (+). Sometimes it is not Franz Kafka (28 books). Wikipedia: See this author on.
|Language:||English, Spanish, Japanese|
|ePub File Size:||21.85 MB|
|PDF File Size:||9.70 MB|
|Distribution:||Free* [*Regsitration Required]|
Kafka-Amerika-The Man Who caite.info - Ebook download as PDF File . pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online. Frantz Kafka. The Stoker. As the seventeen. -. year. -. old Karl Rossman. –. who had been shipped off to. America. by. his poor parents because. Amerika, also known as The Man Who Disappeared, The Missing Person and as Lost in The title Amerika was chosen by Kafka's literary executor, Max Brod, who assembled the . Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version.
The stoker called out to one Lina. It was all in vain anyway. I wish you had. Both were openly relying on Karl to take them in without any fuss. If Mr.
Green had an elbow on the table and moved his whole face as close he possibly could to Mr. Pollunder, you might well have thought something criminal was being discussed and not business. While Mr. Green, that everyone, Karl for himself and Green for himself, should try to get along by his own ability, that the necessary societal connection between them would be manufactured in time by the victory or destruction of one or both of them.
I want nothing to do with him and he should leave me in peace. So he was all the more willing to go with her now.
In the end, he was already acquainted with both Europe and America, but she only knew America. In passing Klara shoved a door open with a lightly outstretched hand and said without stopping: An unexpected darkness by the window explained itself through some tree branches swaying there in their full range. You could hear birds singing. Karl regretted not having taken the electric flashlight that he had received as a gift from his uncle.
He sat himself on the windowsill and looked and listened around. A bird he had agitated seemed to drill through the leaf-work of an old tree. The whistle of a suburban train clanged somewhere in the country.
Otherwise it was still. But not for long, because Klara came rushing in. She cried, clearly angry: First of all, Karl wanted to answer when she was more hospitable. But she went over to him with large strides and cried: Why are you so naughty. But there he caught his senses, got himself loose with a turning of his hips and grabbed her. It was easy to catch her in her tight dress. But right after standing there careless and quiet for a moment, he felt her growing power back on his body, she had wrenched herself from him and grabbed him with a good imposing grip, repelling his legs with the positions of some exotic fighting technique and driving him back against the wall with a magnificent regularity of breathing.
In spite of that, in spite of that, I am enormously tempted to slap you in the face as you lie there. But what do you have against me? Pay attention! I almost hit you with a slap in the face right now! If you should get away today, be more refined the next time. I am not your uncle whom you can defy.
What will Mack say when I explain all this to him. Klara walked around the room, her skirt rustled on her legs, she stayed by the window a long while. Karl found it painful that he was unable to get any rest in the very room that Mr.
Pollunder had thought up for him for the night. Because that girl wandered round, stood there and talked, and he was so indescribably fed up. All he wanted was to fall asleep quickly and get away from here.
He lay in wait just for her to walk away, so he could spring to the door behind her, lock it and leap back to the sofa. And so he lay there, staring up, and he felt his face become stiff, and a circling fly flickered before his eyes without his knowing exactly what it was. The door to my room is the fourth of these doors on the right, on this side of the hallway.
Remember, you promised to play the piano for me. At once Karl sat up, this lying around had already become unbearable. Just so he could move around a little, he went to the door and looked into the hallway. But what a darkness! He was happy as he closed and locked the door, and the table continued to stand in the light of a candle. He decided not to stay any longer in this house, but to go down to Mr.
If Mr. Pollunder objected to something about this immediate return home, then Karl would want at least to ask him to let a servant guide him to the nearest hotel. She had even thought it kind of her to promise not to tell Mr. Pollunder about their fight, and that was scandalous. And so Karl was invited to a wrestling match, and it had been humiliating for him to be thrown around by a girl who probably committed the greater part of her life to learning wrestling moves.
In the end she had received lessons from Mack.
If she would explain everything to him, it would be understandable, Karl knew that, even though Karl had never had the opportunity to hear from the man himself. Karl also knew, that if Mack would instruct him he would make even greater progress than Klara; then one day he would come here again, most likely uninvited, to get a feel for the territory, the exact knowledge of which had been a great advantage for Klara, so he could seize this same Klara and knock her onto the same sofa on which he had been thrown today.
His concern now was finding the way back to the hall, where, in his initial absentmindedness, he had probably laid his hat in an inappropriate place. But if there were at least some light shining on a door somewhere for him to see, or a voice in the distance, ever so soft to hear. It made for slow forward progress and because of the stopping the way seemed twice as long. Then came again door after door, he tried to open several, they were blocked and the rooms apparently unlived in.
And here so many rooms stood empty, just so you could hear a hollow sound when you knocked on the door. It seemed to Karl that Mr.
Pollunder was misled by false friends and crazy about his daughter and ruined because of it. Suddenly the wall on one side of the hallway stopped and an ice-cold marble railing stood in its place. Karl put the candle down on it and leaned over carefully. Dark emptiness blew against him. What purpose did this great, deep room serve? You stood here in the open, as in the gallery of a church. Karl almost regretted not being able to stay in the house till morning, he would gladly have been led all around by Mr.
Pollunder in daylight and would have allowed him to explain everything. When the hallway suddenly turned Karl knocked into a wall with his whole force and only the uninterrupted care with which he desperately held the handle protected it, luckily, from falling and going out.
For the first time he could estimate the length of this hallway, the house was a fortress, not a villa. His face appeared somewhat stiff because of a large, white, full beard which broke off into silky ringlets at his chest.
Anyway, he answered at once that he was Mr. The fight with Klara had also rendered the suit useless, he reminded himself. The servant was kind enough to clean the suit as well as he could in a hurry; again and again Karl turned himself around in front of him and showed him a fleck here and there, which the servant obediently removed.
Now the construction workers are on strike, as you perhaps know. You get a lot of trouble with this kind of construction. Mack would never have bought the house. Mack was the deciding factor in the purchase. Before walking into the dining room, where the voices of Mr. Pollunder and Mr. He probably thought that Karl meant to stay the entire night in the dining room, so he could talk with the men and drink with them too.
I think your help will still be useful to me. Frightened, Karl let go of the door, because he had wanted to walk in quietly. Without any more turning around, he noticed that the servant had apparently climbed down from his pedestal and closed the door without the slightest noise. But it was nowhere to be seen, the dining table was completely cleared away, maybe the hat embarrassingly had been carried away to somewhere in the kitchen. Pollunder, who seemed to enjoy the interruption, because he shifted his position in his chair right away and turned his entire front to Karl.
Green pretended not to be interested and pulled his wallet out, which was enormous for its kind in both length and width.
He seemed to look for a certain something in its many pockets, but during the search he read all the various papers that came into his hand. Pollunder to be near to him, his hand on the armrest of the chair. Pollunder and looked at Karl with open, supportive glances. Karl put up with it gladly, but he felt much too grown-up for this kind of behavior. But naturally it became more difficult to declare his request. Pollunder asked. He certainly had his good reasons, as he has for everything he does, and I took it upon myself to force out his permission against his better judgment.
Simply, I abused his love for me. Whatever doubts he had about this visit are now unimportant, I know simply and entirely and certainly that there was nothing in these doubts about hurting you, Mr. Pollunder, you who are the best, the best friend of my uncle. No one could match, not in the slightest, your friendship with my uncle. You might not believe that I could somehow earn my own bread — and for everything else may God protect me.
My education, unfortunately, has been too impractical for that. I made it through four grades as an average student in a European middle school, and as far as making money goes that counts for less than nothing, because the lesson plan in our school was obsolete. Pollunder had listened carefully and quite often squeezed Karl up against him imperceptibly, especially when the uncle was mentioned, looking earnestly and full of expectation at Green, who continued to busy himself with his wallet.
But Karl just became more impatient, which became clear to him over the course of his speech, seeking instinctively to push Mr. He felt alienated from Mr.
Pollunder, ready for a fight with Mr. Green, and then an uncertain fear came around and filled him, whose shock clouded his eyes.
He took a step back and stood exactly as far from Mr. Pollunder as he did from Mr. Pollunder asked Mr. Green, grabbing Mr. Green, who had finally took a letter from his wallet and laid it before them on the table. It could also be that he made his uncle much too angry through his disobedience. In that case it would be better if he stayed here. Green, becoming engrossed in the letter and running his two fingers back and forth along the edges.
He seemed to want to hint that Mr. Pollunder had asked him a question, that he had answered back, and that he had really nothing to do with Karl. In the meantime Mr. Pollunder had walked over to Karl and pulled him gently away from Mr. Green to one of the large windows. Moreover, it is not his duty at all to be home right now, his duty is just this, to get here early at the right time. You said yourself I could arrive earlier with the train than with the automobile. It is entirely unnecessary.
Now I just need to find my hat. Green, taking a cap from his pocket. Just take it! Green and banged on the table. Karl was already going to the door to fetch the servant when Mr. Green picked himself up, stretched after a good meal and all that quiet time, clapped strongly against his chest and said in a tone between suggesting and demanding: Pollunder, who had also stood up. Pollunder wore such jackets terribly.
Standing close to Mr. Pollunder, the entire mass of his back writhed, the stomach was soft and flabby, a real burden, and the face seemed pale and labored.
Across from him stood Mr. Green, maybe a little fatter than Mr. That will allow you to have a good time and it also fits very nicely with my schedule. Actually, I have something interesting to tell you before you continue on, something that might be crucial for your return. Pollunder to the end, and your presence here would only be a disturbance, so you can spend a nice while with Miss Klara.
Pollunder — which, by the way, had been given to him by an indifferent, brutal man while Mr. Pollunder, whose business it actually was, held himself back with words and glances?
And what was this interesting thing he would be allowed to hear at midnight? But he doubted the most if he would able to walk over to Klara, his enemy. But now it was completely and utterly impossible to say the slightest thing against Klara, because she was Mr. If she had behaved a tiny bit differently, he would have openly admired her for these relationships. He thought all this over, but noticed, that no one could demand any thought out of him, because Green opened the door and said to the servant, who sprang up from the pedestal: As Karl passed his room, where the door was still standing open, he wanted to step in for a moment, maybe just to reassure himself.
You heard it yourself. I know you still want to go off into the night, but not everything goes as you want it, I said to you right away, such things barely become possible. The servant hurried over to her and gave her a report, Karl came slowly after him.
As he had done downstairs in the dining room, the servant locked the door carefully from the outside. Karl seemed to believe that there was no danger of getting in another quarrel with Klara.
He would have preferred to please her, because she was entirely different than before, as if somehow she had been promoted a long way into the ranks of Pollunder and Mack. I have a magnificent piano. My uncle gave it to me. Now give me permission to leave, it is your bedtime after all. Sleep well and dream sweetly.
How late is it anyway? Who would lead him to the train station now? Pollunder would be able to get his hands on a servant somewhere, maybe this servant had been called into the dining room to await further orders. It was a short song that Karl knew would have to be played somewhat at length, especially for a foreigner to understand it, but he hustled through it in an angry marching beat.
After it was over, the silence swarmed into their area again like a large crowd. So slowly that the startled desires of the listener anticipated the next note that Karl was holding back and gave up only with difficulty.
Then from the next room, loud applause rang out. Karl Rossman! He saw Mack sitting there half-reclined in a large bed with four posts, the blanket had been thrown loosely over his legs. The canopy of blue silk had a unique girlish magnificence on an otherwise simple, heavy, wooden square bed. Just behind Mack, however, the bed and everything else sank into complete darkness. Klara leaned herself against the bedpost and had eyes only for Mack.
Klara, give him a chair. At that moment twelve bell chimes rang out, quickly one after the other, each one striking in the echo of the other, Karl felt on his cheeks the contractions of the great movement of the bells.
What kind of village was this that had such bells! He wanted to feel his way along the way to the open door of his room, but was barely halfway there when he saw Mr. Green staggering here and there in a hurry with a raised candle. In the hand in which he held the candle, he also carried a letter.
Why did you let me wait? Why did you carry on like that with Miss Klara? Green took on a large, smiling appearance in this hallway, and Karl asked himself for fun if he had somehow devoured good Mr. On the envelope stood: To be personally delivered at midnight, wherever he is found. Karl read by its light: Beloved nephew! As you have already noticed during our unfortunately short life together, I am thoroughly a man of principle.
Then, with these hands that hold the paper and write, I would pick you up and hold you high. You have decided to go against my wishes, to leave me tonight, so stay with your decision for the rest of your life. Only then it will be a manly decision. To deliver this news, I chose Mr. Green, my best friend, who will find gentle words for you that could not come from me.
He is an influential man and for love of me he will support you with advice and action in your first steps toward independence. To understand our severance, which seems incomprehensible even by the end of this letter, I have to continue to say again and again: Karl, nothing good can come from your family.
Should Mr. Green forget to hand over your trunk and umbrella, remind him. With best wishes for your continued welfare Your loyal Uncle Jakob.
Green and pulled out the umbrella hanging from one of his pants pockets. You could thank him when you get the chance. Green, and he asked out of private curiosity: In Frisco you could work completely undisturbed, you could begin calmly and gradually work your way up.
Green for the whole evening had been delivered and from now on Green seemed harmless, someone he could speak with as openly as with any other. If the best man in the world were chosen to be the messenger of such a secret and tormenting decision, he would seem suspicious so long as he stuck to it. Would you be so kind as to show me the hallway out and lead me on the way to the nearest restaurant. Green immediately made, Karl hesitated, it was a suspicious kind of hurry, and he grabbed Mr.
Green by the jacket from behind and said with a sudden realization of the truth: On the envelope of the letter you delivered to me, it only said that I had to receive it at midnight, wherever I was found. So why did you hold me back to give me this letter, when I wanted to leave here at a quarter past eleven? You exceeded your orders. Do the contents of the letter conclude that the instructions should be understood as such?
Karl stood astonished in the open air. All he had to do was go down and turn a little bit right into the alley leading to the country road.
Below in the garden he heard the duplicated barking of the dogs who had been released to run around in the shadow of the trees. You could hear them just enough in the silence as they made great leaps through the grass.
Karl came out of the garden, luckily without being bothered by the dogs. So he chose any direction he pleased and went on his way. Karl asked for the cheapest place to sleep that could be had, because Karl believed he had to start saving right away. In accordance with his demand, he was shown by a signal from the landlord, as if he were an employee, to a flight of stairs, where he was received by a tousled old woman who was annoyed at having her sleep disturbed, and almost without hearing him she scolded him without interruption to walk softly, led him to his room and closed the door, but not without shushing him with a Psst!
The room had two beds, both of which, however, were occupied. At the moment that Karl was opening up the skylight, one of the sleepers raised his arms and legs into the air a little, which presented such a sight that Karl, in spite of his sorrows, laughed inwardly to himself. But most likely these two young people were the house servants, who had to get up soon on account of the guests, and so they slept fully dressed.
In front of one of the beds stood a candle with some tiny matches, which Karl crept up to and grabbed. Of course he made a great effort not to wake them by walking around softly and conducting himself carefully.
First of all he wanted to look through his trunk to get an overview of his things, which he only remembered vaguely, the most valuable of which must have gone missing. Because when Schubal lays his hands on something, there is little hope it gets back unharmed. Although he could have expected a large tip from Uncle, while the absence of any object could be blamed on the original trunk watcher, Mr. At the first sight of the opened trunk, Karl was horrified.
He had spent so many hours during the trip arranging his trunk and arranging it all over again and now everything was so wildly stuffed in there that when the lock opened the lid sprang up into the air. Soon, however, Karl recognized to his great relief, that the only reason for this disorder was that someone later had packed in the suit that he had worn during the trip, which of course had not been calculated for the trunk. Not the slightest thing missing.
In the secret pocket of his jacket, not only did he find the passport but also the money he had taken from home, so that when he laid it next to everything he already had, Karl was richly provided for with money, for the moment.
And the laundry he had worn for the arrival was freshly washed and ironed. He immediately put the watch and the money in his protected secret pocket.
By looking for certain objects lying at the bottom — a pocket Bible, letter-paper and a photograph of his parents — the cap fell from his head and into the trunk. He recognized it right away in its old surroundings, it was his cap, the cap which his mother had given him as a traveling cap. And now Mr. Maybe his uncle had ordered him to do it.
And with an inadvertently furious motion, he loudly clapped the trunk lid shut. First they stretched and one of them yawned, and right after him so did the other. By now almost the entire contents had been spilled onto the tables, if they were thieves, all they had to was walk up and take their pick. Not only to anticipate this possibility but also to bring in some clarity, Karl went, candle in hand, to the beds and explained why he was allowed to be here.
They were both very young, but difficult work or anguish had prematurely uncovered the bones in their faces, unkempt beards hung off their chins, their long, uncut hair hung in scraps from their heads and out of drowsiness they rubbed and pressed their deep-set eyes with their knuckles.
Karl wanted to use their momentary weakness and said: Unless they were faking their drowsiness, everything was going well. It was just unpleasant that one of them was an Irishman. Now at least he wanted to get a good look at this Irishman with the candle, which he had lit again, and he found that this one looked more tolerable than the Frenchman.
There was a roundness to his face, and he laughed very kindly in his sleep, so far as he could tell as he stood on his tiptoes from a distance. Then he picked up the photograph of his parents, where his short father stood erect and tall, while his mother sat a little sunken in the chair in front of him.
His father held one hand on the back of the chair, the other balled into a fist on an illustrated book that lay open on the delicately ornate table next to him. His mother, on the contrary, looked much better, her mouth was twisted out of shape as if she had just been hurt and were forcing herself to smile. It seemed to Karl that this would be just as obvious to anyone who saw the picture, then a moment later it seemed to him that the clarity of these impressions would be too strong and almost absurd.
How could you get from a picture such an unassailable conviction about the feelings of the people in the picture? And he looked away from the picture for a long while. When he brought his glance back again, it fell on the hand of his mother, hanging off the arm of the chair, near enough to kiss. He thought that it might be good to write to his parents, like the both of them had urged him to do in Hamburg, especially his father.
When his mother had announced to him the trip to America in the darkness of a terrible evening, he had sworn openly and irrevocably never to write, but what did the promise of an inexperienced young man matter in these new circumstances?
He might as well have sworn that after two months in America he would have been the general of the American Army, while in reality he was stuck with two lumps in an attic on top of an inn outside New York, and he had to admit that this was his rightful place.
And smiling, he examined the faces of his parents, as if he could tell whether or not they had ever wanted to receive some news from their son. With all this looking he soon noticed that he was very tired and could barely stay awake through the night.
The picture fell from his hands, then he laid his face on the picture, whose coolness felt good on his cheek, and with a pleasant feeling, he fell asleep. He was woken up early by a tickling in his armpit. It was the Frenchman who allowed himself these advances. They were going to walk for two days from New York to the city of Butterford, where allegedly some positions were available.
They had nothing against Karl coming with and first they promised to carry his trunk for now and then to secure him an apprenticeship if they could find work, which would be an easy thing to do if there were any work. Karl had barely agreed when they advised him, out of friendship, to take off those nice clothes, since they would be awkward for him when he applied for the position. And right in this house there was a good opportunity to lose these clothes, because the old woman ran a linen business.
As Karl put on his traveling suit, alone and a little sleep-drunk, he reproached himself for having sold the suit which might end up hurting him at an application for the apprenticeship but which would only be useful at a better post, and he opened the door so he could call the two back, but he knocked into them instead.
It went without saying she was acting out of malice. Karl, who had wanted to put his trunk in order, had to watch as the woman packed his things with both hands and threw them into the trunk with vigor, as if they were wild animals to be tamed. The two fitters made lots of trouble for her, plucked at her skirt, tapped her back, but if they had intended that to help Karl, she missed the point entirely. In the hallway they had to go back and forth at length, especially the Frenchman, who hung on Karl, cursed without interruption and threatened to knock out the landlord if he ever dared come forward, and it seemed he was preparing for this by furiously rubbing his clenched fists against each other.
Finally there came an innocent, small young man, who had to stretch out when he handed the coffee pot to Robinson.
So only one could ever drink and the two others stood in front of him and waited. As a goodbye the Irishman threw the pot at the stone pavement, they left the house without anyone seeing and walked in the thick, yellow morning fog. Generally they walked next to each other on the edge of the road, Karl had to carry his trunk, the others would probably relieve him only by request, here and there an automobile shot through the fog and the three turned their heads after the enormous vehicle that was built so garishly and appeared so quickly that you had no time to notice even the existence of the passengers.
Later began the convoys of vehicles bringing food to New York, which spread five in a row across the street without interruption, so that no one could cross the street. From time to time the street broadened into a square, where a policeman walked back and forth on a tower-like protrusion in the middle, so he could look over all and be able, with a small stick, to order the traffic on the main road and the traffic flowing down the side streets, which remained unsupervised until the next square and the next policeman, but the silent and careful carriage drivers and chauffeurs stopped of their own free will in a sufficient order.
Karl was most surprised at the general calm. In some squares great detours had to be made because of the great pressure from the side streets, so the entire journey stopped and traveled step by step, then it all came on again, so that for a short while everything rushed by at lightning speed until as if by a single brake a slowdown took over and quieted everything again.
Not the slightest bit of dust was kicked up from the road, everything moved in the clearest air. Then you could see a similar automobile, where some walked around with their hands in their pockets. These automobiles carried various inscriptions, and Karl cried out when he saw: Karl took refuge behind the fitters, as if his uncle could be on the wagon and see him. He was happy that the two also rejected the invitation, even if they offended him to some extent with the arrogant expressions on their faces.
He made them understand that right away, although not so directly. Delamarche asked him pleasantly not to interfere in things he did not understand, this way of hiring people was a disgraceful fraud and the Jakob Corporation was notorious throughout the entire United States. But he complained without interruption about the heaviness of the trunk, until it was revealed that his only intention was to lighten the trunk of the Veronese salami that he had become pleasantly aware of in the hotel.
Karl had to unpack it, the Frenchman took it so he could handle it with dagger-like knives and eat almost all of it alone. It seemed petty to beg for a small piece, but it bothered him on the inside.
All the fog had already disappeared, in the distance tall mountains gleamed with wavy ridges in the haze of the sun. By the side of the road lay a miserably cultivated field surrounding gigantic factories, which stood darkly smoking on the open land.
In the indiscriminately arranged single tenements the many windows trembled in their multifarious movements and illuminations, and on all the narrow, weak balconies women and children had many things to do, while around them, hiding them and then revealing them, cloth and linen, hung up and laid out, fluttered in the morning wind and billowed out powerfully. With your gaze sliding off of the houses, you saw larks flying high in the sky and under them the swallows, not so far above the heads of the travelers.
The sea was in New York and always the possibility of return to his homeland. And so he remained standing and said to both of his companions, he wanted to stay in New York. The Irishman had to mediate and explained that Butterford was much nicer than New York, and both had to ask him politely before he would continue on again.
They came into a steep region, and when they stopped here and there, they could see when they looked back the panorama of New York and its harbor forever expanding and developing.
The bridge connecting New York to Boston hung delicately over the Hudson, and it trembled when you squinted to see it. It seemed entirely without traffic and underneath it ran an inanimate, smooth belt of water. Everything in both of these giant cities seemed empty and pointlessly displayed. As for the buildings, there was barely any difference between the large ones and the small. Even in the harbor, the largest in the world, it was quiet, and only here and there, influenced by your memory of seeing it up close, you might believe you saw a ship pushing on for a short stretch.
But Delamarche and Robinson saw much more, they pointed left and right and arched with their outstretched hands to places and parks that they named by their names. And in connection, Robinson began to sing a song with his whole mouth, which Delamarche accompanied with hand-clapping and which Karl recognized as an opera melody from his homeland that had pleased him more in the English text than it had pleased him at home.
Then, as they continued on, Karl asked when was the earliest they could have enough work to get back to New York. Delamarche said it could be good enough in a month, because there was a worker shortage in Butterford and wages would be high. Naturally, they would keep their money in a common pool, which coincidentally made the differences in their wages equal as partners.
The bread had a cylindrical shape and a long knife stuck in every bread loaf. With the meal was offered a dark liquid that burned in the throat. But Delamarche and Robinson liked it, they raised their glasses often to the attainment of various desires and knocked them against each other, holding them high for a while, glass to glass. At the next table sat workers in lime-splashed jackets and everyone drank the same liquid.
Automobiles, driving by in crowds, threw clouds of dust over the tables. The strike was costing him millions and threatened his financial standing. A watch, a ring or something to sell for cash was nowhere to be found. The surprising thing was, though, that neither Delamarche nor Robinson were very concerned with the bill, and they were even in good enough moods to try as often as they could to grab the waitress, who moved proudly between the tables with a heavy stride.
Her hair ran a little loose along the side of her forehead and down the cheek, and she straightened it back again and again with her hands.
Finally, just as you were about to expect the first friendly word out of her, she walked to the table, lay both hands on him and asked: It was only a little embarrassing that he would first have to transfer the money out of his secret pocket.
His original intention had been to hold back the money until it was absolutely necessary and stand, to a certain degree, on the same level with his companions.
The amount would be enough for a journey by foot. Otherwise it was highly unnecessary that his companions learn anything at all about this secret pocket. It seemed lucky now that his companions were more interested in the waitress than in how Karl got together the money for the bill. Delamarche lured the waitress between himself and Robinson by offering to pay the bill, she was able to defend herself against both of their advances only by laying her entire hand on one or both of their faces and pushing it away.
In the meantime Karl feverishly collected the money into one of his hands under the tabletop, so that, with his other hand, he could hunt for pieces in the secret pocket and fetch them out. The clanging of the money cut off all the joking right away. After the meal had been paid for, he slowly brought the money back in, Delamarche took a coin out of his hand to tip the waitress, whom he hugged and pinched so he could reach the money to her on the other side.
Towards evening they came into a more rural, fertile region. You could see unbroken fields all around, stretching their new greenery over gentle hills, rich country houses bordered the streets and you walked for hours at a time through the gilded gates of gardens, they crossed the same slowly flowing stream a number of times and frequently heard above them the railway train thundering on high across the trembling viaducts.
The sun had just come down on the horizon of the distant forests, when they threw themselves on a hill of a grass in the middle of a small group of tress, so that they could rest from the strain. Delamarche and Robinson lay there and stretched themselves powerfully, Karl sat upright and looked down a couple of meters at the street, deeply rutted from the constantly passing automobiles, which hurried by quickly and with urgency one after the other, as if they were sent in precise numbers from far off in the distance and then waited in those same precise numbers in the other direction.
Since the earliest morning and through the entire day, Karl had seen no car stop, no passenger get out. Delamarche agreed, and only Karl felt obliged to say that he had enough money to buy a place to sleep for all of them in a hotel. There must have been a large city nearby, because the first large hall of the hotel that Karl walked into was filled with a large crowd, and at the buffet that spread along the long wall and two side walls, waiters ran unceasingly with white aprons on their chests and could not calm down the impatient guests, because again and again you could hear swearing all over the place and fists slamming on tables.
No one noticed Karl; there was also no actual service in the hall, the guests, who sat at small tables that disappeared among three neighboring tables, grabbed anything they wanted at the buffet.
At every one of the tables stood a large bottle with oil, vinegar or something similar, and all the food that had been grabbed at the buffet was soaked with stuff from this bottle. With some effort, he found a small, open place at the buffet, where his view was blocked for a long time by the propped-up elbows of his neighbors. It seemed to be the custom here to prop up your elbows and put your fists against your forehead; Karl thought about how his Latin professor Dr. Krumpal had hated this posture and always approached in secret and then out of nowhere, with a suddenly appearing ruler, would push your elbows from the table with a painful jerk.
And there was little hope of getting a waiter, even when both of his plump neighbors went away satisfied. Sometimes Karl snatched a waiter over to his table by the apron, but they always tore themselves free with a disgusted face. No one could be stopped, they only ran and only ran. If only someone had passed with something to eat and drink, he would have taken it, asked about the price, laid out the gold and left gladly. But right by him were lying bowls of herring-like fish whose black scales gleamed golden on the edges.
They could be very expensive and would probably satisfy no one. So Karl had to look for a different spot and began like he had before. But now time was going by very quickly.
The clock at the other end of the hall, whose hands you could make out only by squinting through the smoke, showed that it was almost past nine. By the other spots at the buffet, however, the crowd was even larger than it had been at the earlier position he had left behind. And the more the hall filled up, the later it got.
Again and again new guests poured through the main doors with loud hallos. At some places guests cleared away the buffet with authority, sat themselves on a table and toasted one another; it was the best place, you could see the entire hall. His comrades would accuse him, with every right, that he had tried to save money by not bringing anything back.
Now he stood in a section where all round him warm meat was being eaten with beautiful yellow potatoes, it was incomprehensible to him how these people had gotten it. Then he saw, a few steps ahead of him, an old woman, clearly from the hotel staff, talking and laughing with a guest.
She fiddled constantly with a pin in her hair. But exactly the opposite happened. She was very fat, her body swung, but her face, under the circumstances, had an almost delicate construction. Glancing at the many things to eat, Karl was tempted to quickly think up a finer dinner to order, especially since he could expect cheap service from this influential woman, but finally, since nothing suitable occurred to him, he came back to ordering the bacon, bread and beer.
All the while she explained to Karl that she had led him here because outside at the buffet the food always lost its freshness, no matter how quickly it was eaten, because of the smoke and the odor. But it was good enough for the people outside. He thought about his companions, the good American experts that they were, who probably had never been in this pantry and had to make do with the spoiled things to eat at the buffet. He only thanked her, shivering, when she wanted to set down a bottle that was similar to the ones standing outside on the tables.
The woman straightened up some things on the tables, a waiter came in, looked around in search of something, was directed by the woman to a large bowl where a broad pile of sardines was sprinkled with parsley and carried this bowl into the hall with upraised hands.
Sleep with us in the hotel. I will have three beds prepared right away. He imagined to himself the kind of noise these two would make in the hallways of this fine hotel, and Robinson would get dirt on everything and Delamarche inevitably would pester even this woman. She opened a door, which led straight out into the open and said, as he departed with a bow: The hotel was now illuminated on all five of its floors and brightened the street all the way across.
As always the automobiles continued, coming in from the distance faster than they had by day, even if not in uninterrupted succession, groping the surface of the road with the white beams of their lights, which grew pale as they crossed the light of the hotel but rushed off into the continuing darkness illuminated again.
Karl found his companions already in a deep sleep, he had stayed away too long. He wanted to invitingly spread out what he had brought with on napkins he had found in the basket and wake up his comrades when everything was ready, only to see to his surprise his trunk completely opened, which he had left behind locked, with the key in his pocket, while its contents were scattered all over the glass. The hotel is ten steps away and you needed three hours to go this way and that.
We were hungry, we thought you might have something to eat in your trunk, and we tickled the lock until it opened itself. I know you have to be patient with companions, and I prepared myself for that, but this is too much.
Eat up quickly, I have to bring the basket back. He is such a German. You warned me about him earlier, but I was a fool and took him along. We gave him our trust, schlepped him around with us an entire day, lost at least half a day because of it and now — because someone tempted him over at the hotel — he says goodbye, simply says goodbye. I know what companionship is. I had friends in Europe too and no one can accuse me of false or vulgar behavior. But what really happened was something entirely different.
For the whole day you walked behind me, held onto my jacket, imitated my every move and was otherwise as quiet as a little mouse. But now that you feel you have some support at the hotel, you start talking big. Maybe we should just charge you tuition for what you learned from us today. You Robinson, we envy him — so he says — for his possessions.
So watch your mouth! You seem to want to beat me up. I want to say just once, You abuse me for possessing money and having hidden it from you. Then he asked Karl: Delamarche was walking so close to him that Karl had to take a few steps backwards over the trunk. As if in answer, a man with a strongly shining flashlight climbed up to the group from the street. It was a waiter from the hotel. He had barely caught sight of Karl when he said: Madame, the head chef, wants to tell you that she urgently needs the straw basket which she lent to you.
Delamarche and Robinson stepped to the side with apparent modesty, as they always did before strange people of good standing. The waiter took the basket and said: Both of the other men can come if you want to take them with. The beds are already prepared. The night may be warm today, but sleeping out here in the back is not without its dangers, you often find snakes.
But Robinson stood there indifferently and Delamarche had his hands in his pockets and looked up at the stars. Both were openly relying on Karl to take them in without any fuss. Suddenly he straightened up. The photograph was missing, it had been resting right on the top of the trunk and was nowhere to be found. Everything was complete, only the photograph was missing. But even now I promise the entire trunk to whomever has the picture in his pocket.
I can do no more. He made Karl careful about searching both at the same time, because otherwise one of them could throw the photograph to the side unobserved. I want nothing but the photograph, only the photograph.
He hurried now because of the possibility. Generally, everything was useless, neither Robinson nor Delamarche had the photograph. The waiter swung the trunk onto his shoulder, Karl took the straw basket and they went. Karl was already in the street, when as an afterthought he stopped himself, stood still and called out into the darkness: For a long while Karl waited to see if one of them would decide something different.
A second time he called into the distance: At the Hotel Occidental Karl was immediately led to a sort of office in the hotel, where the head cook dictated notes in her hand to a young female typist at a typewriter. The extremely precise dictation, the composed and flexible keystrokes carried on over the periodically noticeable ticks of the wall clock that showed almost half past eleven.
She looked like a schoolgirl, her apron was very carefully ironed, on the shoulders, for example, were ruffles, the hairstyle went straight up and you were a little astonished when, after all these details, you looked at her serious face.
After bowing, first to the head cook and then to Karl, she left, and Karl inadvertently looked at the head cook with a questioning expression. Whatever the case, I believe, it would be better and more appropriate for you to settle down somewhere instead of bumming your way through the world.
Just think about it! Would you want, for example, to be an elevator boy? You meet all the guests, they see you all the time, one of them gives you a small task, in short, every day you have the possibility to get something better for yourself. Let me worry about the general stuff. It would have been absurd to have reservations about being an elevator boy, even with his five years of school.
Here in America there was reason enough to be ashamed of those five years of school. Generally, Karl had always liked elevator boys, they stood out as the trimming on the hotel.
Just yesterday I was talking about it. Yesterday was my fiftieth birthday. The joy of meeting a fellow countryman makes you completely thoughtless. Come, I will take you to your room. Would you be so kind and telephone the doorman, he might prefer to send the people to me or let me get them. What kind of photograph is it, if I may ask? Then they went through a door opposite the entrance into a small hallway, where a tiny elevator boy, asleep, leaned on the railings of the elevator.
Here is this small young man, for example, he arrived here half a year ago with his parents, he is Italian. I could give you examples like this for hours. He is dead tired. Now, with my position, I should be satisfied and have no need for sorrow.
But it must be all my earlier sorrows which caused this insomnia in me. So Therese wakes me. Good night! His trunk was set up in order, and had probably not been so safe in a long time. On a low wardrobe with sliding compartments, over which a wide-meshed woolen rug was thrown, stood various photographs in frames and under glass, Karl stood there inspecting the room and looked at them. They were mostly old photographs and for the most part showed young ladies in unmodern, uncomfortable clothes and loose, small yet highly-placed hats, who rested their right hands on umbrellas and turned to the viewer while still managing to look away with their glances.
The buttons of his uniform had been gilded on the photograph after the fact. He was stretching just after a thorough washing of his entire body, which he tried to carry out as quietly as possible for the sake of his neighbors, in the anticipated pleasure of sleeping on the couch, when he thought he heard a weak knocking on a door.
Buy the Ebook: Add to Cart. About Amerika: Also in The Schocken Kafka Library. Also by Franz Kafka. Product Details. People Who Read Amerika: Inspired by Your Browsing History. The Missing Person Also Read. Related Articles. Looking for More Great Reads? Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now. Download Hi Res. LitFlash The eBooks you want at the lowest prices. Read it Forward Read it first. Pass it on!
Stay in Touch Sign up. We are experiencing technical difficulties.