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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — The Burrow by Franz Kafka. The Burrow by Franz Kafka.
The Burrow" German: "Der Bau" is an unfinished short story by Franz Kafka in which a mole-like being burrows through an elaborate system of tunnels it has built over the course of its life. Stories and Reflections New The Burrow" German: "Der Bau" is an unfinished short story by Franz Kafka in which a mole-like being burrows through an elaborate system of tunnels it has built over the course of its life.
Translated by Willa and Edwin Muir. Get A Copy. Published first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Burrow , please sign up.
Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Burrow. Mar 09, Basilius rated it it was amazing. My personal experience aligns well with it, and I was enticed by the setting even before I started. Because of these and other reasons I would have loved The Burrow regardless of its literary merit; lucky for me it also happens to be amazing. The plot is simple: A mole-like creature rants internally about his underground burrow.
We gather from his thoughts a few tidbits about his life: He grew up in a hostile jungle until one day he decided to dig an underground borrow as his home. He built and augmented it throughout his life, creating a massive labyrinth with a sand-castle citadel at its center, which houses his food supply.
The story ends with the creature convinced a giant predator is closing in on him and his home, and his extreme anxiety about such an attack. The entire piece has little to no action and is all internal monologue. The psychological pressure the creature feels and the readers is amplified by the claustrophobic setting. The paranoia is reminiscent of Pynchon, and the endless chains of logic that lead nowhere reminds me of Borges. That, and the arctic desolation of his home.
This is both a simple fact void of noise the mind hallucinates but also slightly tragic given what we know about the author. The story reflects issues Kafka experienced all his life, and so have I. The world is a loud, dangerous place, and the desire for a quiet home, safe from danger, able to grant peace of mind is precious beyond all imagining.
The mole earns his home through hard work and intelligence, and has a right to peace, but the knowledge of impending reality prevents him from enjoying it. He knows that one day something will come knocking at his door to shatter his world to pieces. We who live in security have never experienced such arbitrary destruction. It is a cruel joke that once the creature gets his home, he loses it to his own obsessive fears. The creature holds such extreme anxiety that he has to leave his borrow for periods of time just to watch the entrance, not just for his imaginary enemies, but to imagine himself content within.
It seems the ideal of happiness is more vital than happiness itself; this is a symptom of too closely investing in your dreams. But, even as the mole notices, life outside his burrow has a certain sweetness to it, and at times is preferable.
His refuge has become a prison to guard off an antagonistic world. Max Brod argued Kafka intended a showdown with the mole and the impending predator, who arrests so much of our madness in the closing pages. But I think not. The protagonist has lived in isolation with his thoughts all his life, and no one knows or cares about his existence.
The impending doom is indistinguishable from the impending mortality all organisms enjoy. Walling yourself off from harm not only walls you off from the world, but creates a breeding ground for personal demons which grow and multiply without adversity. Hence the need to create imaginary enemies in lieu of real ones. The question still remains of how we moles, living painfully in the jungle, can find our peace of mind.
Perhaps then the burrow is not an attempt at escaping from reality, but from the nightmare of our consciousness—to guard against not just others but ourselves.
In this way, perfectly Kafkaesque, salvation is denied to us. No matter where you turn, inward or outward, friend or foe, accomplishment or failure: everything seems to arrive at a dead end.
View all 3 comments. Apr 24, Bidisha rated it really liked it. With The Burrow or Der Bau it is no different. Or is it? The creature is clearly placed in that part of the food chain where it hunts and is hunted.
It faces constant threat from its enemies, or so it thinks, which prompts it to remodel its chambers and tunnels multiple times during the 25 page story. The creature gloats about the new chambers for a few moments, only to renovate it entirely the very next moment.
While it does so and secures food for itself, we are privy to the creature's internal monologue - its fears, insecurities, anxieties, pride even, at having built an impenetrable fortress of a burrow. Some pages, it rants about how awesome its skills are that none would even guess there's an whole labyrinth beneath the moss covered ground, and other days its thoughts are stuck to the potential attacker, or 'the beast' as is described, and how futile its defenses against the beast should prove to be.
The story ends with the sentence, 'But all remained the same', indicating that the beast may have been a figment of an hyper-active imagination of the mole creature who builds burrows like crazy.
What cemented my thoughts further was a foreword by John Updike in the edition of the e-book I own. Updike informs how Kafka used to refer to his disease as 'the beast' - note the similarities to the potential attacker in Der Bau , and how it will do him in. Apparently, the incomplete Der Bau was a complete story, what with the beast finally attacking and defeating our little mole creature. Personally, I found the short story to be riveting to state the least, for it not just Kafka's mind you get access to, it is your own mind that opens up.
No matter the defenses and securities you put up and upgrade, bad stuff still happens, diseases still happen yeah, I'm looking at you COVID! Jun 27, David Sarkies rated it really liked it Recommends it for: People who like the strange, the bizarre, and the twisted, and people who like moles. Shelves: modernist. A muddy hole in the ground becomes a great castle 30 June The more of Kafka's stories that I read the stranger they seem to become.
Well, it is not that the next one is stranger than the last, but rather that are all on the same level of strangeness. I guess that is what comes from somebody who has spent a bulk of his life working in the 19th Century version of Workcover.
Hey, I work for an insurance company basically doing what Kafka did and, well, to be honest with you, it is driving me nu A muddy hole in the ground becomes a great castle 30 June The more of Kafka's stories that I read the stranger they seem to become. Hey, I work for an insurance company basically doing what Kafka did and, well, to be honest with you, it is driving me nuts as well.
However, unlike Kafka, I don't have a PhD in Law, which makes you wonder what he was doing working in an insurance company processing personal injury claims.
From reading this story I gather than the person, or thing, telling you the story is a mole, though I am not all that willing to stake my life on that preposition. Okay, somebody has suggested that a statement where the narrator talks about a part of its forehead being used to burrow suggests that it is a mole, but there is another part of the story where the narrator suggests that it can see, and as far as I know moles are blind though since I am not a zoologists, just some chump working for an insurance company, I cannot say for sure.
Anyway, the narrator, who appears to be a burrowing mammal of some sort, spends the entire story telling us about its burrow. However, the interesting thing about this story is that this particular mammal is describing this burrow from its point of view, which makes the whole labyrinthine structure so much more interesting. This is what I love about Kafka in that he seems to have the knack of turning one of the most boring things into a fascinating discussion.
For instance, the main room is referred to as the 'Great Castle', while in reality it is just a muddy hole in the ground. The narrator also goes into intricate detail on how it stores its food, and also tells us about the beast that lurks nearby though we don't know what the beast is, just that it is a beast. This is another thing that I love about Kafka, and that is that the way he uses language means that what he is describing could be anything.
Once again, like Investigations of a Dog, we are seeing the world through the eyes of something that is not human, meaning that the world that we are looking at is not the human world. In many ways Kafka's writings are absurd in that they expose the absurdity of life. Here we have a burrowing mammal who is describing what is in effect a muddy hole in the ground as if it were some exotic fortress and some fantastic palace.
Yet we, the reader, know that it is little more than a hole in the ground.
The Burrow (short story)
In the story, a badger -like creature struggles to secure the labyrinthine burrow he has built as a home. It appeared in The Great Wall of China. Kafka is alleged to have written an ending to the story detailing a struggle with an invading beast, but this completed version was among the works destroyed by lover Dora Diamant following Kafka's death. Kafka worked frequently in this genre. The first-person narrator is an ambiguous burrowing animal.
The Burrow by Franz Kafka review – a superb new translation
In terms of narrative method, Kafka writes from within the mind of the protagonist, and the introspective protagonist — through whose eyes we see the maze of the burrow — is the author himself. And the burrow with its innermost sanctuary, the Castle Keep, is his painfully constructed bastion against the animosity of the world around him. That the burrow's description so closely resembles that of an actual subterranean animal's hideout enhances its symbolic meaning and illustrates that it is really more complex than its outward appearance indicates. The "unique instrument" of the animal's forehead is a symbol of Kafka's man's passionate battle against the encroaching confusion of earthly existence, a battle he fought with "intense intellectual" rather than "physical" prowess. As he was to put it in his merciless, almost masochistic fashion: "I was glad when the blood came, for that was proof that the walls were beginning to harden.
The Metamorphosis and Other Stories
A superb new translation by Michael Hofmann of some of Kafka's most frightening and visionary short fiction. Strange beasts, night terrors, absurd bureaucrats and sinister places abound in this collection of stories by Franz Kafka. Some are less than a page long, others more substantial; all were unpublished in his lifetime. These matchless short works range from the gleeful miniature horror 'Little Fable' to the off-kilter humour of 'Investigations of a Dog', and from the elaborate waking nightmare of 'Building the Great Wall of China' to the creeping unease of 'The Burrow', where a nameless creature's labyrinthine hiding place turns into a trap of fear and paranoia. A superb translation Kafka's world is richer, and more rewarding than that.
Brod, Max, and Hans Joachim Schoep, eds. Berlin: Gustav Kiepenheuer Verlag, Josipovici, Gabriel, ed. Edwin and Willa Muir. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. The first-person stream-of-consciousness narrative is told from the perspective of a mole-like creature who has devoted his life to the construction of an elaborate underground burrow.