Sunday, 15 February 2015


From Kafka’s unpublished notes (quotes in bold):
There was once a village that boasted a giant hedgehog. It attracted many tourists, but only one serious observer – the local grade school teacher, who decided to write a report on the phenomenon. The report was published and sold well.
The old teacher was an excellent man but neither his abilities nor his prior studies enabled him to produce a thorough examination that might be of further use, not to speak of providing an explanation.
He continued to study the case and became increasingly discouraged by his inability to explain the phenomenon. At last he decided to consult an expert in the field.
A small addendum which he attached to his publication (many years later when hardly anyone remembered the case anymore) shows that he suffered a great deal from the rejection he experienced at the hands of …people from whom he had least expected it.
The expert he consulted listened to his report in a distracted manner and finally commented:
“True, there are various hedgehogs, small and large. The earth in your area is especially black and heavy. This offers especially rich nourishment to hedgehogs, and that is why they turn out exceptionally large.” “But not that large!” the teacher exclaimed, and outlined a 2-meter silhouette, exaggerating the dimensions somewhat in his wrath. “Oh, quite,” the scholar answered. He clearly thought the matter was very amusing. “And why not?”  With this verdict, the teacher returned home. His wife and six children waited for him in the evening, as snow fell on the country road, and he had to confess to them the final collapse of his hopes.
            When I read how the scholar had treated the teacher… I immediately decided to collect and put together everything I could discover about the incident. I couldn’t punch the scholar’s face, but I could defend the teacher in an essay at least, or to put it another way, defend not only the teacher but the good intentions of an honest yet powerless man. But I soon regretted my decision…Cont.

(Source, unpublished text posted on, my translation)

No comments:

Post a Comment