Kafka's Uneaten Pastry

Kafka's treatment of food is complex, mysterious, and on the whole anorexic. I'm not thinking of "The Hunger Artist" so much (although that's a good example) as of the general sense of food-repulsion that runs throughout his work, a repulsion that makes itself known in dozens of small, seemingly insignificant details. There's a lot of spitting out of food; a lot of simply holding food in the mouth (but not swallowing it); a lot of contemplation of food, but not much actual consumption, as in this opening scene of "Description of a Struggle":

I sat at a tiny table—it had three curved, thin legs—sipping my third glass of benedictine, and while I drank I surveyed my little store of pastry which I myself had picked out and arranged in a pile.

Then I saw my new acquaintance . . . [who] came toward me and, smiling absent-mindedly at my occpuation, said: "Excuse me for disturbing you..."
[the acquaintance prattles on for a while about a girl he just met...]

I looked at him sadly—the piece of fruitcake which I had in my mouth did not taste particularly good—and said into his rather flushed face: "I'm glad of course that you consider me trustworthy, but displeased that you have confided in me. And you yourself, if you weren't in such a state, would know how improper it is to talk about an amorous girl to a man sitting alone drinking schnapps."
(translated by Tania and James Stern)
RELATED POST: Eating as Destructive Act


  1. Interesting information.

    Life is Meals, James and Kay Salter (2006)is perhaps interesting for you?

  2. Austerity seems to be a theme in your choices(?)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.