The Village Schoolmaster

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"The Village Schoolmaster"
Author Franz Kafka
Original title "Der Riesenmaulwurf"
Language German
Genre(s) Short story
Published in Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer
Media type book (hardcover)
Publication date 1931
Published in English

"The Village Schoolmaster", or "The Giant Mole" ("Der Dorfschullehrer" or "Der Riesenmaulwurf") is an unfinished short story by Franz Kafka. The story, written in December 1914 and the beginning of 1915, was not published in Kafka's lifetime. It first appeared in Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer (Berlin, 1931). The first English translation by Willa and Edwin Muir was published by Martin Secker in London in 1933. It appeared in The Great Wall of China. Stories and Reflections (New York: Schocken Books, 1946).[1]

Plot introduction[edit]

The narrator discusses the phenomenon of a giant mole in a far village, and the attempt of the village schoolmaster to bring its existence to the public attention, only to become an object of derision to the scientific community. Without knowing the schoolmaster, the narrator tries to defend him and his honesty in a paper about the giant mole. The narrator's attempt is even more unsuccessful, and in a dialogue during Christmas he and the village schoolmaster discuss the motivations of each one and the different outcome each one was expecting, without being able to finish the conversation.

Process of Writing[edit]

Kafka discusses the story in a diary entry from December 19, 1914:

Yesterday wrote "The village schoolmaster" almost without knowing it, but was afraid to go on writing later than a quarter to two; the fear was well founded, I slept hardly at all, merely suffered through perhaps three short dreams and was then in the office in the condition one would expect. Yesterday father's reproaches on account of the factory: 'you talked me into it.' Then went home and calmly wrote for three hours in the consciousness that my guilt is beyond question, though not so great as father pictures it.[2]

In a January 6, 1915 entry Kafka mentions abandoning the story.

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ The Great Wall of China: Stories and Reflections. Franz Kafka - 1946 - Schocken Books
  2. ^ Kafka, Franz. The Diaries, 1910-1923. New York: Schocken Books, 1975. p. 322