Investigations of a Dog and Other Creatures, a collection of Michael Hofmann’s new translations of Kafka stories, is out next month from New Directions. Below, three of our favorites.
Poseidon was sitting at his desk working. The administration of all the waters was a huge task. He could have had as many assistants as he wanted, and in fact he did have a large staff, but since he took his job very seriously and went through all the calculations himself anyway, assistants were of little use to him. One couldn’t say that the work made him happy either; he only did it because it was his to do. Yes, he had often requested happier work, as he put it, but whenever they came back to him with suggestions, it turned out that nothing appealed to him as much as what he was doing. It was actually very difficult to find anything else for him. It was hardly possible to put him in charge of a particular sea, quite apart from the fact that the calculations involved were no less onerous, just more trivial, since great Poseidon was only ever in line for an executive post. And if he was offered a job in a different department, the very thought of it was enough to turn his stomach, his divine breath became restless, his bronze thorax quaked. Not that they took his complaints all that seriously: if a great power kicks up, then you have to be seen to give into him, even in the most hopeless cause; no one seriously thought of having Poseidon removed from office, he had been god of the seas from the beginning of time, and would have to remain such. Read More