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November 24, 2009

Just read a short story–“The Dream,” written by Franz “Frank ‘Hot Dog’ Furter” Kafka and translated by Willa and Edwin Muir. I thought it was really good except for the first and last line. Here is another version of “The Dream,” written by Franz “Frank ‘Hot Dog’ Furter” Kafka, translated by Willa and Edwin Muir, and edited by the illustrious Saeid Edward:

It was a beautiful day and K. felt like going for a walk. But hardly had he taken a couple of steps when he was already at the cemetery. That paths there were very winding, ingeniously made and unpractical, but he glided along one of them as if on a rushing stream with unshaken poise and balance. From a long way off his eye was caught by a freshly heaped grave mound which he wanted to pause beside. This grave mound exerted almost a fascination over him and he felt he could not reach it fast enough. But he often nearly lost sight of it, for his view was obscured by banners which veered and flapped against each other with great force; one could not see the standard-bearers, but there seemed to be a very joyous celebration going on.
While he was still peering into the distance, he suddenly saw the grave mound quite near his path, indeed he was almost leaving it behind him. He made a hasty spring on to the grass. But since the path went rushing on under his shifting foot, he tottered and fell on his knees just in front of the grave mound. Two men were standing behind the grave and were holding a gravestone between them in the air; scarcely had K. arrived when they thrust the stone into the earth and it stood as if cemented there. Out of some bushes there came at once a third man, whom K. recognized immediately as an artist. He was clad only in trousers and a badly buttoned shirt; on his head was a velvet cap; in his hand he held an ordinary pencil with which he was already drawing figures in the air as he approached.
With this pencil he now addressed himself to the top end of the gravestone; the stone was very tall, he did not have to bend down though he had to bend forward, since the grave mound, on which he shrank from setting foot, came between him and the stone. So he stood on tiptoe and steadied himself with his left hand on the stone’s flat surface. With an astonishing turn of skill he managed to produce golden letters from his ordinary pencil; he wrote: HERE LIES—Every letter was clear and beautifully made, deeply incised and of the purest gold. When he had inscribed these two words he looked at K. over his shoulder; K., who was very eager to know how the inscription would go, paid hardly any attention to the man but was intent only on the stone. And in fact the man turned again to continue writing, but he could not go on, something was hindering him, he let the pencil sink and once more turned towards K. This time K. looked back at him and noted that he was deeply embarrassed and yet unable to explain himself. All his earlier vivacity had vanished. That made K. feel embarrassed too; they exchanged helpless glances; there was some dreadful misunderstanding between them which neither could resolve. An untimely little bell now began to ring from the cemetery chapel, but the artist made a sign with uplifted hand and the bell stopped. In a little while it began again; this time quite softly and without any insistence, breaking off again at once; as if it were only testing its own tone. K. felt miserable because of the artist’s predicament, he began to cry and sobbed for a long time into his cupped hands. The artist waited until K. had calmed down and then decided, since there was no help for it, just to go on with the inscription. The first small stroke that he made was a relief to K., but the artist obviously achieved it only with the greatest reluctance; the work, too, was no longer beautifully finished, above all there seemed to be a lack of gold leaf, pale and uncertain the stroke straggled down, only it turned into a very big letter. It was a J, it was almost finished, and at that moment the artist stamped angrily on the grave mound with one foot so that the soil all around flew up in the air. At long last K. understood him; it was too late to start apologizing now; with all his fingers he dug into the earth which offered almost no resistance; everything seemed prepared beforehand; a thin crust of earth had been constructed only for the look of the thing; immediately beneath it a great hole opened out, with steep sides, into which K. sank, wafted onto his back by a gentle current. And while he was already being received into impenetrable depths, his head still straining upwards on his neck, his own name raced across the stone above him in great flourishes.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2009 10:51 PM

    i haven’t read the original but i’m so into the revision right now! -j

  2. November 28, 2009 2:40 AM

    you have to read testaments betrayed. no joke.

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