The Essayist

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Laughing With kafka

by David Foster Wallace. An essay that is dear to my heart.

For me, a signal frustration in trying to read Kafka with college students is that it is next to impossible to get them to see that Kafka is funny … Nor to appreciate the way funniness is bound up with the extraordinary power of his stories. Because, of course, great short stories and great jokes have a lot in common… I might invite students to consider what is really being expressed when we refer to someone as “creepy” or “gross” or say that somebody was forced to “eat shit” in his job. Or to reread “In the Penal Colony” in light of expressions like “tonguelashing” or “She sure tore me a new asshole” or the gnomic “By a certain age, everybody has the face he deserves.” Or to approach “A Hunger Artist” in terms of tropes like “starved for attention” or “love-starved” or the double entendre in the term “self-denial,” or even as innocent a factoid as that the ety- mological root of “anorexia” happens to be the Greek word for longing.

(Source: essayist, via thearchitrave)

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    Because I worry that someone might fail to read David Foster Wallace’s footnotes, I have to quote this little tidbit:
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    by David Foster Wallace. An essay that is dear to my heart. For me, a signal frustration in trying to read Kafka with...
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    by David Foster Wallace. An essay that is particularly dear to my heart. For me, a signal frustration in trying to read...
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