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Cut & Paste: St. Louis translator reveals that maybe all of us — even Kafka — have a sunny side

"Is that Kafka?" cover and Kurt Beals
Kurt Beals | Provided
"Is that Kafka?" cover and Kurt Beals

Even if the iconic German-language writer Franz Kafka doesn’t cross your mind on a regular basis, you may still hear the adjective “Kafkaesque” from time to time and think: gloomy, nonsensical.

But a St. Louis translator says Kafka was darn near a jolly, optimistic fellow.

In our latest Cut & Paste podcast, we talk with Washington University professor Kurt Beals, who recently translated a book about the author’s life. He tells us Kafka foresaw modern media, was interested in fitness and travel, and was probably a guy we’d like to grab a beer with.


Here’s a few things you’ll hear Beals talk about in the podcast:

  • On the complexity of Kafka: “People think they have an idea of who Kafka is and this book gives them 99 other versions of who Kafka was.”
  • On Kafka's version of being a "regular guy": “He is someone who shares experiences with regular people but seems to experience them in radically different ways.”
  • On what Kafka’s Twitter handle might have been: “I’m guessing it would have had a ‘K’ in it, probably just ‘@K.’”
Cut & Paste

Look for new Cut & Paste (#cutpastestl) podcastsevery few weeks on our website. You can also view all previous podcasts focusing on a diverse collection of visual and performing artists, and subscribe to Cut & Paste through this link.

Follow Willis and Nancy on Twitter: @WillisRArnoldand @NancyFowlerSTL

Please help St. Louis Public Radio find artists to feature on Cut & Paste. Tell us which artists and cultural themes deserve a closer look.

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.