Ein Bericht für eine Akademie

Ein Bericht für eine Akademie; Report for an Academy (written and published 1917)

In this story, Rotpeter (Red Peter) gives a speech to an academy in which he describes his transformation into a human being. He was born on the Gold Coast in West Africa (today: Ghana). His life as an ape ended five years ago, when he became a human being. He did this because he had been captured by hunters: he realised that the only way to avoid being put in a zoo was to become a human. In order to achieve this transformation he had to give up every stubborn attachment to his youth. He had a trainer who helped him to combat his own nature as an ape. Now he tours variety theatres, music halls and learned societies. He has a girlfriend who is a chimpanzee; she is only half-trained. He cannot bear to see her during the day because she has ‘den Irrsinn des verwirrten dressierten Tieres im Blick’; ‘the madness of the confused trained animal in her eyes’. Only he can recognise this look, but he cannot bear it.

The story was seen by its first generation of readers as a parody of the attempt by Eastern European Jews to assimilate into Western European society. Lorna Martens interprets the story as the allegory of a successful artist.

Further Reading in English

Ziad Elmarsafy, ‘Aping the Ape: Kafka’s “Report to the Academy”’, Studies in Twentieth Century Literature 19:2 (1995), 159-70

Lorna Martens, ‘Art, Freedom, and Deception in Kafka’s “Ein Bericht für eine Akademie”’, Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte 61:4 (1987), 720-32

Further Reading in German

Patrick Bridgwater, ‘Rotpeters Ahnherren, oder: Der gelehrte Affe in der deutschen Dichtung’, Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte 56:3 (1982), 447-62

Web Link


Ein Bericht für eine Akademie in German; click on a word for the English translation