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'The Wanderer by Franz Kafka'

‘The Wanderer by Franz Kafka’
By Rory Macbeth
Published by n0 Demand
X Marks the Bökship, 2013

“No text can be completely original, because language itself, in its very essence, is already a translation.”
Octavio Paz

‘The Wanderer by Franz Kafka’ is a novel written by translating a Kafka story with no knowledge of the original language and no dictionary. Instead Macbeth uses belief as a method for writing. He knows he doesn’t know the language, but he forces himself into a place where he believes that the translation is right. Rejecting the endearing buffoonery that flatlines computer-aided translations, Macbeth’s strategy taps into the very basic human urge to make sense of the world through narratives. The meaning of each sentence prompts or affects the next, allowing a story to emerge that a computer could never create. Once a sentence is believed to be correct, it is set in stone: there is no going back and reviewing it for the sake of a ‘better’ story -changing a word would invalidate the rest of the text. In this way, running parallel to the story of Gregor, is another story in real time, -the story of the book being written.

Early on, it is clear that Macbeth suddenly decides that all the words with capital letters cannot only be places or names. When he becomes aware of the inevitable Freudian undertones to the narrative, Freud makes an appearance. The resulting work emerges as a fluid nightmare. Though Macbeth is aware of the word Kafkaesque he hasn’t read any Kafka, nor does he know what the original story is. So what emerges is a novel who’s word-for-word dogmatism simultaneously both is and isn’t Kafka’s story. A story whose strategies make us painfully aware of the tenuous grip language has between us and reality.

As an ongoing work the novel has been performed and shown in galleries internationally, each time being printed and bound with blank pages. The final work will also be an audio book. The unfinished novel has recently been adapted for film by Laure Prouvost.







X Marks the Bökship Writer in Residence is supported by Arts Council England.