: Kafka with a Smile :

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Kafka with a Smile

2018 Winter Vol. 76, No. 1

This issue has no theme, but is, rather, a miscellany of essays, stories and poetry. What did emerge in putting together this number were certain continental names like Kafka, Brecht, Mitterand and the current French Prime Minister Macron whose ascendency provides the vehicle for an analysis of our led piece about French/political memoirs. Certain cultural traditions—say the French or from the Soviet—are probed elsewhere and reveal the conflict between traditional values and ones shaped by modernization. The “figure in the carpet” of this issue—to quote Henry James—may be there, but I, for one, did not see it.

We have essays on the dilemma facing a writer interested in religion; however, the author lacks any religious sentiment of his own. There are short personal essays reflecting on family issues and another on the wonders of the natural world. People often ask me about my own current reading preferences, and I am embarrassed to say that it focuses on our growing “slush” pile that threatens to overwhelm us. We have fewer readers today who are capable of managing the heavy load of manuscripts that arrive daily.

Yet I did find time recently to reread several Melville classics, the “Tartarus of Maids” and “The Paradise of Bachelors”; Christopher Logue’s brilliant adaptation of Homer’s Iliad titled War Music; Alice McDermott’s novel The Ninth Hour and another novel by the Irish writer Kevin Barry, City of Bohane, that takes on Joyce and creates a comic counterpoint to his Dublin with an even more exotic site in the west of Ireland.

On the shelf for future reading are: Annie Proulx’s Barkskins; Peter Ho Davies The Fortunes; and two historical works Richard Bessel’s Germany 1945 and Christopher Finan’s Drunks: An American History. And, of course submissions by Antioch Review authors who have works-in-process.

Too many books? Of course not, just too few hours.  Near the end of this volume is a cartoon version (“The Apotheosis”) of Kafka’s Metamorphosis by the now deceased New Yorker contributor and Antioch graduate Ed Fisher that appeared in our pages in 1991.  You might want to start reading “from the Archives” since we all need some laughter in our Kafkaesque world.

Robert S. Fogarty, Editor

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