Spring 1947 • Vol. IX No. 2 Nonfiction |

Kafka’s Prayer

To explore the truth in the thought of Kafka, I deal first at perhaps surprising length with what he said in his own person in a few aphorisms and reported remarks, although in the end that truth must be found in the more extensive sayings of the romances and dialectical lyrics. In the case of most romancers this would obviously be the correct method, for the thought of the impersonations in fiction is dramatic thought, appropriate to the plot, and is the author's thought only indirectly. Yet though I pursue the same method with Kafka it is for just the opposite reason. Not only are his impersonations never far from himself but, what is more important for religious thought, their dramatic plight mirrors his own plight in the pressing present moment—even too closely for art, there is not sufficient projection: so he says, Writing is a form of Prayer. Certainly such existent thought, wrung from its conditions, is worth more than his generalities. But it is too immediate, dense, and

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