Franz Kafka: Wish to become an Indian

Franz Kafka

Wish to become an Indian

If only I were an Indian, ready in an instant, and on the galloping horse, aslant in the air, trembling again and again briefly above the trembling ground, until I let the spurs go, for there were no spurs, until I threw away the reins, for there were no reins, and hardly got to see the land ahead as a smoothly mowed heath, already without horse neck and horse head.

German title: Wunsch, Indianer zu werden. First published in Betrachtung (Leipzig, 1913). Translated by Johannes Beilharz (© 2021).

Translator’s note
In German, the word “Indianer” unambiguously refers to an American Indian, i.e. a Native American. Of course, the notion of political correctness did not exist at the time this text was published. This is why the title of translation is as it is and not, as political correctness would dictate, “Wish to become a Native American”.

The painting above is by the German expressionist painter August Macke and dates from 1911 – around the same time that Kafka’s story was published.

About beilharz

Writer, painter, translator, photographer
This entry was posted in Übersetzung, Flash fiction, Literatur, Painting, Stories, Surreal, Translation, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Franz Kafka: Wish to become an Indian

  1. inwitinthemidwest says:

    I recently discovered that my genome has an Outside Chance of a smidgen of Lenape. However, researching this possibility is exactly like your Kafka passage, not to mention a Kafkaesque sensation akin to The Trial. The NA/First Nations spirit within me floats away & disappears. btw here in Murica many NAs still refer to themselves as Indian, pronounced “ind•yan,” even, in NW Murican parlance, “Skins.”

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