Franz Kafka · 224 pages
Rating: (43K votes)
“What am I doing here in this endless winter?”
“And so gentlemen, I learned. Oh, if you have to learn, you learn; if you’re desperate for a way out, you learn; you learn pitilessly. You stand over yourself with a whip in your hand; if there’s the least resistance, you lash yourself.”
“Then birds flew up like a shower of sparks, I followed them with my eyes and saw how they rose in a single breath, until they seemed no longer to be rising but I to be falling...”
“Away in the distance, a train appeared behind the trees, all its compartments were lit, the windows were sure to be open. One of us started singing a ballad, but we all wanted to sing. We sang far quicker than the speed of the train, we swung our arms because our voices weren't enough, our voices got into a tangle where we felt happy. If you mix your voice with others' voices, you feel as though you're caught on a hook. (trans. Michael Hofmann)”
“[He] used to be so insignificant that one literally felt alone in his presence.”
“WHEN Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from troubled dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous insect.”
“It is to us artisans and tradesmen that the salvation of the fatherland is entrusted; but we are not equal to such a task; never, indeed, have we claimed that we were capable of performing it. It is a misunderstanding; and it is proving our ruin.”
“The man from the country has not expected such difficulties; the law, he thinks, should be accessible to everyone and at all times; but as he now takes a closer look at the doorkeeper in his fur coat, at his large pointed nose, his long, sparse, black Tartar beard, he decides that it is better, after all, to wait until he receives permission to enter.”
“It seems hard to remain a bachelor...to model your appearance and behaviour on one or two bachelors remembered from your youth.
That is how it will be, only that in reality it will be you yourself standing there, today and later, with a body and a real head, and so with a brow too, to strike with your hand.”
“Nobody reaches through here, least of all with a message from one who is dead. You, however, sit at your window and dream of the message when evening comes.”
“and if you run off down the long streets in the way you are doing — then for this evening, you have broken utterly from your family, who fade away into insubstantiality, while you yourself, absolutely solid, black and clear-cut, slapping your thighs, rise and
assume your true form.”
“Selfishness is one of the surest signs of profound unhappiness.”
“...we don't have to fly straight into the sun, but we do need to creep into some tidy little place on earth where the sun sometime shines and where we can find a little warmth for ourselves.”
“We were a good team. I was glad we had decided to work on being friends. She was holding up her end of the bargain and I was trying my best not to worship her.”
“The bodies of two murdered women have been found this week. For the record, I didn't kill either of them.”
“I don't know what's going on in the world," he said. "Everything seemed so reasonable and scientific until I discovered my son was a fraud with the ability to hide my own memories from me. And now you come along. The captain at the gate told me you were executed and buried yesterday."
"He spoke to you? He didn't say a word to me," I said.
"Don't change the subject, young man. I'm accusing you of violating the laws of nature."
"Nature's virtue is intact. I just know some different laws.”
“Slick stayed where he was, looking up at Gentry’s pale eyes, gray in this light, his taut face. Why did he put up with Gentry anyway? Because you needed somebody, in the Solitude. Not just for electricity; that whole landlord routine was really just a shuck. He guessed because you needed somebody around.”
“This is how the time moves - an hour here, a day somewhere, and then it's night and then it's morning. A clock ticking on a shelf. A small child running to school, a father coming home.
Time moves over us and past us, and the feeling of lips pressed against lips fades into memory. A picture yellows at its edges. A phone rings in an empty room.”
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