I like this idea - what would the major character from works of literature be listening to on their iPod? It is a fun speculation. However I must - OK, I will - point out that Kafka himself was tone deaf. While once staying in a small village he complained that it was his luck to be across the street from the one piano in Bohemia.
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Literary Mixtape: Josef K
by Emily Temple
If you’ve ever wondered what your favorite literary characters might be listening to while they save the world/contemplate existence/get into trouble, or hallucinated a soundtrack to go along with your favorite novels, well, us too. But wonder no more! Here, we sneak a look at the hypothetical iPods of some of literature’s most interesting characters. What would be on the personal playlists of Holden Caulfield or Elizabeth Bennett, Huck Finn or Harry Potter, Tintin or Humbert Humbert? Something revealing, we bet. Or at least something danceable. Read on for a cozy reading soundtrack, character study, or yet another way to emulate your favorite literary hero. This week: Josef K.
In the beginning of Franz Kafka’s The Trial, 30-year-old Josef K is arrested for an unspecified crime. He is not taken to jail, but informed that he is arrested and told to wait for further instructions from the Committee of Affairs. He is in some ways the Everyman: a working stiff befuddled by the bureaucratic mire into which he is suddenly submerged. However, as author James Hawes explained, “Kafka’s master-trap is to make us accept that Josef K’s point of view is objective, narrative fact. In fact, Josef K is no timeless Everyman but a specific satirical character: a thoroughly modern salaryman with a goal-oriented, easy-to-clean mental world who is obsessed with office power-plays and visits a prostitute once a week.” We had forgotten about that prostitute part. Regardless, we think Josef K would listen to the soundtrack of a repetitive, Kafkaesque existence, perfect for trudging and waiting in line. Here’s what we think he would visit the court, visit Titorelli, and die like a dog to.
“The Show Must Go On” — Queen
We imagine Josef K singing this song to himself as he trudges towards yet another bureaucratic nightmare — or just another day as a bank teller. “Another hero – another mindless crime/ Behind the curtain, in the pantomime.”
“(Still) Terminally Ambivalent Over You” — The Real Tuesday Weld
As much as K tries to convince the reader that he’s a strong figure, he reveals himself to be rather weak willed, generally choosing to sit around and wait to see how things shake out rather than make a decision, preferring the “safety of the solution resulting from the natural course of things.” It will not serve him well.