Short Story (Very Short Flash Fiction) Of the Day, “Give It Up!” by Franz Kafka

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.”
― Franz Kafka

St. Vincent’s Guest House, New Orleans

Tough days – tired days – days where you are not sure what day it is or where you are or where you’re going or why you’re going you don’t know where. Franz Kafka days.

There are several translations of Give It Up! scattered in many places across the web. It’s so short, though, instead of a link I’ll past the whole thing in here – one abbreviated paragraph of despair.

“Give It Up!” by Franz Kafka

It was very early in the morning, the streets clean and deserted, I was walking to the station. As I compared the tower clock with my watch I realized that it was already much later than I had thought, I had to hurry, the shock of this discovery made me unsure of the way, I did not yet know my way very well in this town; luckily, a policeman was nearby, I ran up to him and breathlessly asked him the way. He smiled and said: “From me you want to know the way?” “Yes,” I said, “since I cannot find it myself.” “Give it up! Give it up,” he said, and turned away with a sudden jerk, like people who want to be alone with their laughter.

5 responses to “Short Story (Very Short Flash Fiction) Of the Day, “Give It Up!” by Franz Kafka

  1. So, is this that classic tale of a man being ill prepared and looking towards someone else for direction only to be let down, essentially on account of his lack of preparation? 🤓🖖🏿

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