Friday, December 9, 2011

Number Eight

Er ist wie der Kampf mit Frauen, der im Bett endet.

It is like the struggle with women, which ends in bed. [Kaiser/Wilkins]

Commentary

Hofmann's translation is identical, except that he chooses to begin less formally --"it's."

The most conspicuous thing in this brief line, "struggle," is not the most important thing about it. I don't think Kafka is putting on a worldy, caddish air, suggesting that women seduce men they've already decided they want to sleep with by putting up false resistance. Evil doesn't seduce people by offering them phoney struggles; the struggle is real. A cad would say that the struggle is won when the woman is bedded, but I think Kafka is saying that the struggle is the end, that is, the intention, and the bed. It's not that the struggler becomes evil as he struggles, resorting to cheating or becoming increasingly ruthless; it's that the struggle is the evil.

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