Franz Kafka's Use of Humor Franz Kafka, born on July 3, 1883 in Bohemia, in the city of Prague, has been recognized as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. His works have been called "cloudy, mysterious, inexplicable" (Oates ix). Most people hear the term Kafkan or Kafkaesque and think of dark, fantastic tales with almost no basis in our known reality. But what of Kafka's sense of humor? I personally laughed out loud several times while reading Kafka's Amerika. Were these snippets of humor part of Kafka's plan or mere accidents? According to Roy Pascal, author of Kafka's Narrators: A Study of His Stories and Sketches, "There is a good deal of humour in these early stories, as in the novels and later stories, but it is often ambiguous and can be overlooked" (Pascal 40). The humor that Pascal refers to is not the usual vaudeville, slap- stick so common in today's society. "Kafka never laughed so much as he did with [Felix] Weltsch, and it was Weltsch who first stressed the role of humor in Kafka's work - gallows humor spiked with desperation, but liberating for them both (Pawel 131). Kafka was a man who was more subtle than most and preferred his humor in a more deliberate vein. Irony was a flavor that seemed to work better for Kafka. By taking a look at some of Kafka's works we can see this irony more clearly. In Kafka's short story entitled, "The Judgement," written in 1912, we see one of the unusual uses of irony by Kafka. The central figure, Georg Bendemann, has just gotten into a long and somewhat heated argument with his aging and infirm father. Suddenly Georg's father "threw the blankets off with a strength that sent them all flying in a moment and sprang erect in bed. Only one hand touched the ... ...afka used humor, as shown here, he used it to further emphasize the horror of what was going on in his worlds. Works Cited Gray, Ronald. Franz Kafka. London: Cambridge University Press, 1975. 74-75. Janouch, Gustav. Conversations with Kafka. Trans. Goronwy Rees. New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1971. 33. Kafka, Franz. The Complete Stories & Parables. Trans. Willa and Edwin Muir. New York: Quality Paperback Book Club, n.d. - - -, Amerika, Trans. Willa and Edwin Muir. New York, Schoken Books, 1974. Oates, Joyce Carol. Foreword to: The Complete Stories & Parables. Trans. Willa and Edwin Muir. New York: Quality Paperback Book Club, n.d. Pascal, Roy. Kafka's Narrators: A Study of His Stories and Sketches. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982. 189-230. Pawel, Ernst. The Nightmare of Reason. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1984.
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