Betrachtung; Contemplation

Betrachtung; Contemplation; Meditation (1912)

Betrachtung – translated into English as Contemplation or Meditation – is a collection of short prose pieces which reflect on the experience of the individual when confronted with the complexity of the modern metropolis, in this case Prague. These short texts respond to the fragmentation, chaos and rapid motion of city life with various formal and technical experiments of their own. They are informed by Kafka’s interest in new media such as photography and film. These short texts offer new perspectives on the question of how human bodies move through modern urban space.

English Translation

Franz Kafka, Contemplation, trans. by Kevin Blahut, illustrated by Fedele Spadafora (Prague: Twisted Spoon Press, 2008)

Further Reading in English

Mark M. Anderson, Kafka’s Clothes: Ornament and Aestheticism in the Habsburg Fin de Siècle (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), Chapter 1: ‘The Traffic of Clothes’, pp. 19-49

Elizabeth Boa, ‘Observations on Time and Motion: Kafka’s Betrachtung and the visual arts around 1912’, in Time in German Literature and Culture, 1900-2015: Between acceleration and slowness, ed. by Anne Fuchs and J.J. Long (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)

Carolin Duttlinger, ‘Between Alertness and Paranoia: Kafka’s Poetics of Attention from Betrachtung to Der Bau’, in Kafka und die kleine Prosa der Moderne. Kafka and Short Modernist Prose, Oxford Kafka Studies 1, ed. by Manfred Engel and Ritchie Robertson (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2011)

Andreas Huyssen, ‘Kafka’s Betrachtung in the Force Field of Photography and Film’, in Andreas Huyssen, Miniature Metropolis: Literature in an Age of Photography and Film (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015), pp. 52-83

Shimon Sandbank, ‘Uncertainty as Style: Kafka’s Betrachtung’, German Life and Letters 34:4 (1981), 385-97

Further Reading in German

Norbert Christian Wolf, ‘Ankläge und Ansichten, “High” gegen “Low”: Intertextuelle und intermediale Bezüge in Kafkas Kurzprosastück Auf der Galerie’, Jahrbuch der deutschen Schillergesellschaft 58 (2014), 246-80