Short Story Friday: “County Doctor” (Wm’s Kafka translation)

10.9.09 | | 5 comments

Due to popular demand, the rather non-existent market for literary translations of short work, and just because I’m such a nice guy, this week’s Short Story Friday is my translation of Kafka’s Ein Landarzt. You have the weekend to read it and respond. On Monday I will update this post and talk about the choices I made, the process of translation and a little bit about my reading of the story. But I wanted to give devoted AMV readers the chance to read it without extra-textual influences first.

Story: County Doctor: A translation of Kafka’s “Ein Landarzt” for the American West
(liner notes for the translation)

Author: Franz Kafka, translation by William Morris

Year: Translation 2004, Story 1920

Publication Info: Self-published via Google Docs

5 comments: “Short Story Friday: “County Doctor” (Wm’s Kafka translation)

  1. Luisa Perkins

    Impressive, Wm.

    For me, the story is awash in the Jewish symbology of the unclean: the pig sty (and the riotous-living ranch hand), the blood-soaked rag, the tzaraath-type wound with the worms. And does the boy die in the end? If so, the doctor, through contact with him, is quadruply unclean. It is no wonder that the story ends with him naked and dispossessed. Fascinating read.

  2. Th.

    .

    My day’s been shot to pieces and the next couple look to be more of the same. Forgive me if I don’t reply till some time next week.

  3. chanson

    Very disturbing, especially the part about the wound.

    Luisa makes an interesting point. When I read this the other day, my first reaction was that he was just expressing weariness and frustration at being powerless to solve the awful problems around him. But thinking about it in terms of uncleanliness, it looks more like he’s portraying a feeling of revulsion towards the earthiness of life.

  4. David J. West

    The only works of Kafka I had read previous was Metamorphosis and The Castle, this seemed the most Kafkaesque to me, as if it was the retelling of a dream (or nightmare.

  5. Th.

    .

    It’s been eleven years since I was immersed in Kafka and I have long intended to go back — probably starting with either The Trial or Amerika, neither of which I have read. (I can’t remember if I had read The Country Doctor.) Point being that I can’t really compare this to other translations I have read.

    With the new setting, I am most reminded of a novel I am currently reading, The Fast Red Road – a Plainsong by Stephen Graham Jones. I’ve never read a book that seems so Indian. It’s loaded with visionary men who slip in and out of phantasmic worlds much as the doctor does here. Reality is tenuous and hard to differentiate.

    I’ve been thinking this is one direction Mormon lit should take. Because of recent online discussions (here and here for instance), I have been thinking about the need to add the otherwordly to my Mormon fiction efforts. What form that will take I’m not sure? Angels or dreamscapes? I’m not sure, but it is helpful for me to look at other takes on irreality in realistic writing.

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