Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (Issue 21, September 2012)


And then there is this scene at the end of Kafka’s “The Judgment”:

Georg tucking his sick, weak, and seemingly hopeless father into bed. His father has confessed. He will no longer absorb the fictional life that Georg has presented to him. Georg lifts his father up, strips off his clothes, gets his father into bed. His father pulls up the covers, and, according to one translation they are “tucked...more closely around him,” while in another they are “unusually high up over his shoulders.”

And then: “Am I well covered up? Don’t worry, you’re well covered up, says the son.” At which point the father explodes with rage and accuses the son of living a lie; he confronts the son about his lies, reveals that he (the father) doesn’t actually sit in his room reading enormous newspapers (he just holds old ones over his eyes), and sentences his son to death by drowning, to which the son promptly complies by running out of the house and throwing himself off the first bridge he can find.

“Am I well covered up now.”

These words gave life to the book. They created the book long before the book ever began. Decades of being haunted by these words, this image: the decaying man about to be covered up; the decaying body desperately grasping to reclaim his voice. A reclamation that can only occur if it kills the thing (the child) it creates.