the short story project

On the Tram

Yoav Rosen On:

On the Tram by Franz Kafka

When seeking to put Kafka’s major writing aside – the works that carved with all its severity the precise view of the world which we nowadays call, almost incidentally, as “Kafkaesque” – there are the small, broken texts that are at the margins.

Torn at the fringes, Kafka’s fragments, which he called “observations”, introduce a nuclear version of what is “Kafkaesque”. No need to go to his long personal diaries or to the entangled letters to his lovers; Kafka’s fragments are both “personal” and “literal” all together.

“For we are like tree trunks in the snow,” wrote Kafka in his perhaps most known fragment, “The Trees,” “In appearance they lie sleekly and a light push should be enough to set them rolling. No, it can’t be done, for they are firmly wedded to the ground. But see, even that is only appearance.”

“On the Tram” reveals Kafka, in mere few words, as the one who see the world, observe it, and writes.