Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Kafka the Fraud?

Just in case you skipped a beat, Motoko Rich in the New York Times has a comprehensive list of naughty folks who fabricated memoirs.

Daniel Mendelsohn in the International Herald Tribune comments on the recent spate of fabricated memoirs, and blames not only the authors for appropriating real traumas suffered by real people for personal benefit, but also points the finger at a more worrying social trend :
We have so often been invited, in the past decade and a half, to "feel the pain" of others that we rarely pause to wonder whether this is, in fact, a good thing. ... Empathy and pity are strong and necessary emotions that deepen our sense of connection to others, but they depend on a kind of metaphorical imagination of what others are going through. The facile assumption that we can literally "feel others' pain" can be dangerous to our sense of who we are - and, more alarmingly, who the others are, too. "We all have AIDS," a recent public-awareness campaign declared. Well, no, actually we don't. And to pretend that we do, even rhetorically, debases the anguish of those who are stricken.
Mark Leyner meanwhile tongue-in-cheekly outs Kafka as a fraud:
" 'The Metamorphosis' - purported to be the fictional account of a man who turns into a large cockroach - is actually non-fiction," according to a statement released by Kafka's editor, who spoke only on the condition that he be identified as E.

"The story is true. Kafka simply wrote a completely verifiable, journalistic account of a neighbor by the name of Gregor Samsa who, because of some bizarre medical condition, turned into a 'monstrous vermin.' Kafka assured us that he'd made the whole thing up. We now know that to be completely false. The account is 100 percent true."
But it's telling, is it not, that we never accuse fiction writers of appropriating "real life"?


Ru said...

Ohmygod! I thought it was a fantastic creation. Now that it's a true account, I wonder what happened to the real Gregor, what sort of medical condition, etc.

bibliobibuli said...

ahem, ru. your leg is being pulled. we should have saved this for april 1st.

aliqot said...

Treat the written word with respect and suspicion. Even when it claims to be true.
That was naughty about Gregor Samsa, but after the elephant man...

Burhan said...

franz kafka ain't even a real person. it's the greatest literary hoax of all time, and everything we think we know about him was invented by that liar max brod. kafka's like jt leroy.

oh, and by the way, for all you beatles fans out there, paul mccartney died in 1966 and was replaced by someone who looks and sounds like him.