There are a lot of beautiful genres in the world of literature. Unfortunately, one of the most interesting and fascinating genres, absurdism, is mostly underestimated and unknown to a wide audience. Today I would like to tell you about a short story written by Franz Kafka, “Country Doctor”.
The narration begins in a doctor’s house in the countryside. He receives a call on a late winter night to come and check on a sick villager. The doctor is convinced that there is nothing wrong with the patient, but his sense of duty makes him leave his house to visit a sick person. He goes outside and, to his surprise, finds a stranger standing in front of his house with a beautiful pack of horses and a sturdy sleigh. He offers to take the doctor to his patient right away. When the doctor arrives to the villager’s house, he realizes that the person has a very bad wound. The doctor does not have any medicine or equipment to help him. However, the villager’s relatives refuse to let him go and demand to help the patient. They strip him off all his clothes and lock him in the room with the patient. Finally, he escapes the house, but he is completely naked. Outside, he finds the same pack of horses, but, to his utter surprise, the young and strong horses turned into old nags. In the end, we see a picture of the naked doctor slowly heading back home on foot followed by a laughing crowd.
Kafka’s style is very complicated and twisted. The usage of allegories and open-ended sentences result in multiple interpretations of this story. I believe that the story shows us an overworked and tired person who is burned out by his never-ending hard work. He slowly turned into a puppet manipulated by people around him, and he doesn’t have any will left to resist and fight back. He is physically and mentally broken.
In my opinion, it is the complexity of the writing style that captures the reader’s attention and makes this story particularly interesting. While this genre is not easy to understand and hard to follow, I would like to recommend this book to you as a great introduction to the absurdism.