Investigations of a Dog & The Burrow – Franz Kafka

Book: The Complete Short Stories of Franz Kafka
Status: Still reading.

Back to my current book ‘The Complete Stories’ by Franz Kafka. I decided to put quotes from the two stories ‘Investigations of a Dog’ and ‘The Burrow’ together. To me, these two stories are the most perplexing of Kafka’s longer stories. Both unedited and one unfinished, they have a labyrinthine quality as the narrator works out his own dilemmas, bouncing from theory to theory and problem to problem. They are both very long metaphors – which people have many theories for but obviously no concrete proof from the man himself. Though not easy to read, they are very intriguing. I’ve noticed, for me at least, that in longer stories such as these, Kafka goes on tangents, tangents which get very confusing… but then with quotes such as these, wakes you up with a slap to the face.

Investigations of a Dog

“I can understand the hesitation of my generation, indeed it is no longer mere hesitation; it is the thousandth forgetting of a dream dreamt a thousand times and forgotten a thousand times; and who can damn us merely for forgetting the thousandth time?”

“Well for us that it was not me who had to take the guilt upon us, that instead we can hasten in almost guiltless silence toward death in a world darkened by others.”

“’Are you my colleague in your own fashion? And ashamed because everything has miscarried with you? Look, the same fate has been mine. When I am alone I weep over it; come, it is sweeter to weep in company.’”

“’That is my hunger’, I told myself countless times during this stage, as if I wanted to convince myself that my hunger and I were still two things and I could shake it off like a burdensome lover; but in reality we were very painfully one, and when I explained to myself: ‘That is my hunger’, it was really my hunger that was speaking and having its joke at my expense.”

The Burrow

“And I tear myself free from all my doubts and by broad daylight rush to the door, quite resolved to raise it now; but I cannot, I rush past it and fling myself into a thorn bush, deliberately, as a punishment, a punishment for a sin I do not know of.”

“I have changed my place, I have left the upper world and am in my burrow, and I feel its effect at once. It is a new world, endowing me with new powers, and what I felt as fatigue up there is no longer that here.”

“It is for your sake, ye passages and rooms, and you, Castle Keep, above all, that I have come back, counting my own life as nothing in the balance, after stupidly trembling for it for so long, and postponing my return to you. What do I care for danger now that I am with you? You belong to me, I to you, we are united; what can harm us?”

“True, I have observed the life down here long and carefully enough, but the world is full of diversity and is never wanting in painful surprises.”

Taken from ‘The Complete Short Stories of Franz Kafka’, translated by Willa and Edwin Muir.
Available from Amazon UK :


4 thoughts on “Investigations of a Dog & The Burrow – Franz Kafka

  1. great quotes, but I should not be reading the ones I have not read yet. I’m only up to a country doctor….your “a slap to the face bit” above is perfect, I was thinking this the other night, while getting confused:)…..I’ve received the Berkoff and critical edition of the Metamorphosis so a slight diversion for me. Keep them coming!

    • niftybooks says:

      Haha aah it’s ok to cheat sometimes!

      Are you reading in order? Have you read ‘Blumfeld, An Elderly Bachelor’? I haven’t posted quotes from that yet.. Ooh, and ‘In The Penal Colony’?
      Give me an email, I’d love to know what you thought of them.

      These two stories are a bit eye-crossing, but as I said.. he always keeps your attention somehow!

      Great! Must send you that TV version!
      I’ll definitely keep ’em coming!

  2. Investigations of a Dog: We are perpetually being asked to put up with new soaring dogs who are always appearing. One does not even know where they come from………..For they are invariably seen alone, self-complacently floating high up in the air, and if once in a while they descend to take a run, it lasts only for a minute or two, a few mincing struts and also always in strict solitude, absorbed in what is supposed to be profound thought, from which, even when they exert thenselves to the utmost, they cannot tear themselves free…..

    • niftybooks says:

      Wonderful addition, thank you!

      I read somewhere a theory to explain that and other parts – that the ‘floating dogs’ were lapdogs, on cushions on chairs and such, that the ‘food that comes down from the sky’ were treats from the dining table given by their master, and the ‘food that grows from the earth’ was their foodbowls. Very clever…

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