Customer Review

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A match made in my dreams, 10 Oct 2008
This review is from: Two Kafka Plays: Kafka's Dick & The Insurance Man: "Kafka's Dick" and "The Insurance Man" (Paperback)
At first glance Alan Bennett and Franz Kafka don't seem to have much in common. For one thing, as Bennett points out in the wonderful introduction, Kafka is seen as rather untouchable, barricaded in his own castle of academic scrutiny, not accessible to the common man. And surely Bennett, a 'national treasure', is exactly the opposite?

Well, maybe not quite, if these plays are anything to go by. In the first, 'Kafka's Dick', Max Brod and Kafka turn up on the doorstep of a middle-class, English insurance worker, who happens to be writing an article on the rather more famous Prague insurance man. Things decline into subtle, clever farce in a way that should certainly have its own adjective (though Bennettian is a bit of a tongue twister).

In the second, Kafka himself has little more than a bit-part, but the spirit of his works trembles through every piece of dialogue, every set, every silence. I would say though that, whilst 'Kafka's Dick' can be enjoyed when read as a script, this one really needs to be watched - there must be a Beeb DVD of it, surely? I saw it when it was on TV and it's unmissable.

I'm left a bit speechless when trying to describe how funny and moving both of these plays are. If you enjoy Bennett - here he is near his best. But more than that, if you are a fan (bad word - enthusiast? follower?) of Kafka, Bennett is surprisingly his greatest and most honest critic. In a quiet Yorkshire way he rips through the secular cult of Kafka and the contradictions in the man's character (eg. whether he *really* wanted his works burned) - but he is also full of admiration and understanding of a remarkable genius whose reputation seems to have escaped him in a most violent way. Read, watch, enjoy.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Mar 2014 08:01:55 GMT
Kind of Blue says:
Just in case anyone is wondering, The Insurance Man mentioned in this review is available on this DVD collection:

Alan Bennett at the BBC [DVD]

Posted on 20 Sep 2014 16:40:29 BDT
GlynLuke says:
Excellent, helpful review - thanks.
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