Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A panorama of New York

In his unfinished novel Amerika, Franz Kafka's hero leaves New York to wander through a landscape that has more in common with Austria than America (translator Michael Hofmann describes it as an 'exploded Bohemia'). There is one particularly moving description:
“The road started to climb and when they stopped from time to time they could see, looking back, the panorama of New York and its harbour continually unfolding. The bridge that connected New York with Boston lay slender across the Hudson, and trembled if you narrowed your eyes. It seemed to be carrying no traffic at all, and below it was the smooth unanimated ribbon of water.”
Of course whether or not Kafka meant to write 'Boston' or ‘Brooklyn’ is irrelevant, for this is Amerika, a European dream landscape.

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