This is so illuminating, for those interested in Kafka, because it brings out starkly Kafka’s uniqueness, the way in which, tackling common themes and issues, he spoke in a voice that was, always, utterly his own. Pinsker quotes a fascinating passage from an early novella, Mi-saviv le-nekuda (Around the Point), written by Brenner while he was living in Whitechapel in 1904 and never translated. The hero, Ya’acov Abramson, undergoes a crisis on a bridge as he is about to commit suicide. It’s a powerful passage, and Pinsker performs a little miracle of exegesis in bringing out its biblical and cabalistic echoes – but it is still fairly conventional in the way it explores the inner life of the protagonist. We are in a world made familiar by another solitary figure on a bridge, the figure in Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”. The end of “The Judgement” also involves a bridge and the hero’s suicide, but its brevity, speed, quietness and disconcerting oddness (Bendemann’s prowess as a diver is evoked even as he plunges into the waters below), as well as its extraordinary last sentence, puts it in a class apart.
Here is an article that has Gabriel Josipovici commenting on a few books about Kafka. [via The Times Literary Supplement]