"The Burrow" consists of fictional pieces written between 1911 and 1924 and not published in Kafka's lifetime. Some are long stories such as 'Investigations of a Dog' and 'The Burrow' whereas others are fragments no longer than a page. Common themes link the stories: more or less familiar beasts (including a creature somewhat like a marten who has inhabited a synagogue for many years and a family heirloom which is half-lamb half-cat), business and bureaucracy (which Hofmann's translation renders chillingly appropriate to today's world of work), and distant but compelling powers and laws.
Often Kafka is very funny, whether he's describing a schoolmaster's obsession with a giant mole, a dog's attempts to subject its world to scientific inquiry, or Poseidon stuck in a desk job at the bottom of the ocean. Throughout, the reader wonders at Kafka's imagination and the deadpan way in which he prosecutes the situations he has created. This collection ends with 'The Burrow', an entertaining, sometimes grotesque, account of a creature's obsession with the home of the title, a meat-filled network of tunnels, plazas, and a central citadel, which provides both comfort and paranoia. Hofmann's illuminating introduction describes the conditions under which Kafka produced these unsettling pieces.
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