Franz Kafka: "The Great Wall of China"

In „The Great Wall of China“ Kafka talks about the construction stage of the great wall of China and explains a few anomalies, that occurs during the construction or that are typical for ancient China. Since the narrator of the story is a master-builder and somehow an ethnologist aswell, it doesn´t get clear, how close the story is to the reality.
The narrative is mainly divided in three parts: Explanations why the wall was constructed piecewise, explanations about the unknown and all knowing leadership of the construction of  the wall and explanations about the huge dimensions of the chinese empire and what that means in the consequence for the life of people in isolated villages.

The deeper connection between these three parts doesn´t become apperent. Due to that, the short-story seems to be quite  pointless. It doesn´t get clear, what Kafka or the literaric narrator wants to point out with his explanations. It is typical for kafkas literaric works, that they seem to be a bit incoherent, since kafka is famous for writing a lot of his writings in fragments. That means, he starts with the beginning and the end and then fills the gap piece by piece with chapters or passages. 

The leaders of the construction oft he great wall of China are similar to other authorities in other stories of Kafka. They are anonymous, mysterious, there is nowbody who is informed about the identities or the actions of these people and they seem to be all knowing and very powerful. That makes them comparable with the authorities in „The process“.

In his explanations about the empire, he demonstrates that reality is not very hard-wired in a huge realm without electronical communication. Due to the huge dimensions, information takes a very long time to get into all the thousends of villages. The people have no other choice then trusting the information they get of travelling humans about wars, achievements or changes in the royal family of the empire. Since some information take longer than others , conflicting news about the same issue can arrive in the village at the same time, the actual current situation is unknown.
This states, how big the privilige is we have nowadays, to be able to get and transport information from and to every point all over the world in seconds.

„The Great Wall of China“ is a tale, that mixes fictional and real elements, or at least exaggerates the reality. During my reading, I was constantly looking for conflicts, but I was not able to find one in a prominent role. It hasn´t become clear to me, how „The Great Wall of China“ is supposed to help us to understand conflicts better.

5.2.15 06:31


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