by cheri block
I’ve been reading a number of essays on Kafka and today, I came across a provocative paragraph written by David Constantine, a German language and literature professor who retired from Oxford in 2000. He writes about Kafka’s harsh and at times debilitating self-loathing of his own writing.
Typically–because much of what can be said about Kafka’s writing is existential rather than literary, that is it concerns a disposition and achievement of the personality, it concerns how a person is–typically, his rare exultation, his feeling of success, belongs to the manner of writing as much as or even more than to the produced text. And “manner” is quite the wrong word, quite inadequate. I really mean the whole bodily and psychic state of the man in the act of writing. The achievement of that state, in which, out of which, successful writing will be more likely to come, is itself cause for exultation or, since he rarely achieves it, for continual fretting after it and self-recrimination that he fails to allow or induce it.
This paragraph seems to be saying that successful writing will be more likely if we write from our deepest satisfied and unsatisfied self, from our sublime and/or bitter essence, from our human joys, but more often, from our restless angst.
Do you agree with my initial interpretation? I look forward to your reactions, if any.