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117

The Foreign Language

2
terms
2
notes

about how he started learning German in college (Swarthmore). this one was pretty interesting because he talked about German literature, specifically Kafka's The Trial (see notes 139, 145)

Franzen, J. (None). The Foreign Language. In Franzen, J. The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History. , pp. 117-156

139

"But Kafka's about your life!" Avery said. "Not to take anything away from your admiration of Rilke, but I'll tell you right now, Kafka's a lot more about your life than Rilke is. Kafka was like us. All of these writers, they were human beings trying to make sense of their lives. But Kafka above all! Kafka was afraid of death, he had problems with sex, he had problems with women, he had problems with his job, he had problems with his parents. And he was writing fiction to try to figure these things out. That's what this book is about. That's what all of these books are about. Actual living human beings trying to make sense of death and the modern world and the mess of their lives."

in German class, in a discussion with the prof; Franzen is saying that he doesn't see Kafka's relevance to his life

—p.139 by Jonathan Franzen 4 years, 6 months ago

"But Kafka's about your life!" Avery said. "Not to take anything away from your admiration of Rilke, but I'll tell you right now, Kafka's a lot more about your life than Rilke is. Kafka was like us. All of these writers, they were human beings trying to make sense of their lives. But Kafka above all! Kafka was afraid of death, he had problems with sex, he had problems with women, he had problems with his job, he had problems with his parents. And he was writing fiction to try to figure these things out. That's what this book is about. That's what all of these books are about. Actual living human beings trying to make sense of death and the modern world and the mess of their lives."

in German class, in a discussion with the prof; Franzen is saying that he doesn't see Kafka's relevance to his life

—p.139 by Jonathan Franzen 4 years, 6 months ago
145

[...] It was this other side of Avery--the fact that he so visibly had an other side--that was helping me finally understand all three of the dimensions in Kafka: that a man could be a sweet, sympathetic, comically needy victim and a lascivious, self-aggrandizing, grudge-bearing bore, and also, crurically, a third thing: a flickering consciousness, a simultaneity of culpable urge and poignant self-reproach, a person in process.

on seeing his college prof as a real, raw, unfiltered, imperfect human being

—p.145 by Jonathan Franzen 4 years, 6 months ago

[...] It was this other side of Avery--the fact that he so visibly had an other side--that was helping me finally understand all three of the dimensions in Kafka: that a man could be a sweet, sympathetic, comically needy victim and a lascivious, self-aggrandizing, grudge-bearing bore, and also, crurically, a third thing: a flickering consciousness, a simultaneity of culpable urge and poignant self-reproach, a person in process.

on seeing his college prof as a real, raw, unfiltered, imperfect human being

—p.145 by Jonathan Franzen 4 years, 6 months ago

the act of enhancing or exaggerating one's own importance, power, or reputation

146

a lascivious, self-aggrandizing, grudge-bearing bore

one of those terms I always kinda knew but never confirmed by looking up

—p.146 by Jonathan Franzen
confirm
4 years, 6 months ago

a lascivious, self-aggrandizing, grudge-bearing bore

one of those terms I always kinda knew but never confirmed by looking up

—p.146 by Jonathan Franzen
confirm
4 years, 6 months ago

a card game in which the deck has been stacked

152

just a cool German phrase

—p.152 by Jonathan Franzen
notable
4 years, 6 months ago

just a cool German phrase

—p.152 by Jonathan Franzen
notable
4 years, 6 months ago