I have only one request,” Kafka wrote to his publisher Kurt Wolff in 1913. “‘The Stoker,’ ‘The Metamorphosis,’ and ‘The Judgment’ belong together, both inwardly and outwardly. There is an obvious connection among the three, and, even more important, a secret one, for which reason I would be reluctant to forego the chance of having them published together in a book, which might be called The Sons.”Seventy-five years later, Kafka’s request is-granted, in a volume including these three classic stories of filial revolt as well as his own poignant “Letter to His Father,” another “son story” located between fiction and autobiography. A devastating indictment of the modern family, The Sons represents Kafka’s most concentrated literary achievement as well as the story of his own domestic tragedy.Grouped together under this new title and in newly revised translations, these texts — the like of which Kafka had never written before and (as he claimed at the end of his life) would never again equal — take on fresh, compelling meaning.
The Stoker, Metamorphosis, The Judgment: The past, the present, the future- albeit out of order?
I’ve had interesting dreams about his sons, three if I include the legacy dream; as to whether or not the dreams are about these three sons, I don’t know. I never gave them a name or was told a name, but one is young, not matured and is sad because he can’t find his mother, while the other two are mature, confident and happy. Someday to publish and laugh about the dreams; but I have to admit, I do not know, at least consciously, why whatever it is that they have in common would fall in the category of a secret, or what the secret actually is. At least I don’t think I know!
What do I know?
I have to answer everything, potentially: to say otherwise would not be true. And so the process begins: unless it’s something I accidentally fall into- like when I accidentally became obsessed with studying the kaballah- I never seem to have the confidence or strong enough will to just go do something: I have to chart it and plan it and make lists. Laying out and analyzing all my dreams will be like that, including the dreams about his legacy and sons. >As for the secret that so pleased the author and was withheld from his publisher, I can say and with absolute certainty, that I am the young man in The Stoker, and I can also say that that isn’t the secret because in 1913 he had not yet thought of transforming fiction into reality, I being the reality. That would come later… (And that’s another conversation entirely.) … But there is wisdom to be found, and a triage: The first son living under an arrogant and rude father suffers humiliation and commits suicide; the second son, Gregor, also lives under the influence of an arrogant and course father, suffers humiliation, and instead of instantly killing himself, he suffers alienation, slow starvation, and a long drawn out agonizing death; the third son, however, is spared, sent to America and saved from a future humiliation. I don’t know why Kafka would have thought that this triage was a secret, except he perhaps did not want to hope in the event the hope could not bear witness.