Saturday, December 10, 2016

Kafka: Investigations of a Dog

Franz Kafka: Investigations of a Dog

Have you read Kafka before or tried to read Kafka? Did you find his prose difficult? If so, the translation was likely somehow inadequate.

The truth is: Kafka wrote beautifully simple. With depth, yes, but using plain language.

As with other great literature, you can read his stories and enjoy intriguing or funny snippets. Or, if you are so inclined, you can dig as deep as you care to go. Or simply read and reread and see what you discover.

Here I have tried my hand at a funny short story and hope I was able to make the English as readable as the original German. Let me know what you think.

The translated text (English only) 

"Investigations of a Dog" (German: Forschungen eines Hundes) is a short story by Franz Kafka (3 July 1883 – 3 June 1924) written in 1922. It was published posthumously in 1931. Kafka wanted his unfinished manuscripts to be destroyed by his friend Max Brod, who nonetheless published them after Kafka's death, including this one. 

In "Investigations of a Dog", a dog tells of his attempts to make sense of his life and condition in the most rational and scientific manner of which he is capable. The reader knows things that the dog in his limited understanding cannot grasp, which creates dramatic irony. With numerous self-contradictory statements by the dog and hilarious word choices (for example, mentioning scientific pursuits and basest body functions in one breath), the story presents a humorous and timelessly valid reflection on anthropocentrism and scientific hubris. 

Kindle edition: $2.99

Paperback: $7.99

When you take your dog for a walk next time, you may be less impatient when it insists on lots of conscientious inspection in selecting the best place for watering the ground.

The translator's edition (German/English)

Kindle: $4.99

Paperback: $9.99

Here, the original German text is presented side by side with the new translation.

Learners of the language can use it to improve their reading skills, students of literature can read the original and have a translation at hand for reference, and people interested in translation can evaluate strategies and choices.

The foreword discusses the translation process and looks at challenges of literature translation in general as well as the translation of this story in particular.

Layout sample (last page):

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