Thursday, July 3, 2008

fatally neither one thing or the other

Today, Nextbook tells me, is Franz Kafka's 125th birthday.
A middle-class Prague Jew ("the most Western-Jewish of them all") both enamored of and horrified by an Eastern shtetl life he never knew; a Jew in a period of virulent anti-Semitism ("I've been spending every afternoon outside in the streets, wallowing in anti-Semitic hate") who remained ambivalent toward the Zionist project; a German speaker surrounded by Czech nationalists. The impossible "gypsy literature" an aspect of an impossible gypsy self, an assimilated Judaism that was fatally neither one thing or the other.

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