Novella (?): “Investigations of a Dog”

by look i have opinions

“Investigations of a Dog” (“Forschungen eines Hundes”), by Franz Kafka

Original German found on Wikisource here

An automatic Google translation gives me 13,912 words in English

I think David Foster Wallace described this story (found it!) as having more private meaning than anything accessible to readers. And I suppose it’s probably an allegory for Jewish history or something else I don’t understand very well. But like a lot of Kafka’s stories, his animal stories especially, “Investigations” seems very real and meaningful to me whether or not I can make sense of it.

One thing that probably puts readers off is that, while it could be read as an elaborate exercise in defamiliarizing dogs, it doesn’t draw much power from the contrast between the reader’s and the narrator’s knowledge. It’s fun to read the narrator’s inability to see humans as something of a running joke (and it’s possible, as some have done, to decode all the events of the story through that lens), but the joke goes on long enough that it seems not to be the point of the story. The real point is—I don’t know what.

I’ve quoted this line before and I want to quote it again—it seems applicable to many things in life:

“That is my hunger,” I told myself countless times […] , as if I wanted to convince myself that my hunger and I were still two things and I could shake it off like a burdensome lover; but in reality we were very painfully one, and when I explained to myself: “That is my hunger,” it was really my hunger that was speaking and having its joke at my expense.