Programming note: In an hour or so I'll be looking in on "Tucker Carlson Tonight", live across America at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific. Hope you'll tune in.
Meanwhile, for those who prefer me in non-visual form, here we go with Part Four of our brand new Tale for Our Time - my serialization of Franz Kafka's brilliant novella Metamorphosis. Thank you for your many interesting comments on this latest radio serial. A Steyn Club UK member, Owen Morgan, was struck by the photograph of Kafka and his sister, and writes:
That young lady, with a shy, slightly mischievous, wholly inoffensive smile, met a horrible end.
That's true. Ottla Kafka was murdered at Auschwitz almost exactly three-quarters of a century ago - October 1943. Kafka's two other sisters, Elli and Valli (whom we pictured yesterday), had died the previous year, having been sent to the Łódź ghetto and then the Chelmno extermination camp. A remarkable number of Kafka's friends and family perished at the hands of the Third Reich: His second fiancée, Julie Wohryzek, was killed at Auschwitz in 1944, the same year his Czech translator Milena Jesenská died in the Ravensbrück concentration camp.
Kafka expired of consumption in 1924 and never saw the bureaucratized terror of the Nazi years. But in a sense his entire oeuvre foreshadows it - which is why his writing about the whims and caprices of totalitarianism retains its power.
In tonight's episode of Metamorphosis, Gregor's sister plans to move all the furniture out of his room so that, in his new insect form, he will have more room to crawl around. Gregor isn't so sure:
Did he really want his warm room, so comfortably fitted with old family furniture, to be turned into a naked den in which he would certainly be able to crawl unhampered in all directions but at the price of shedding simultaneously all recollection of his human background? He had indeed been so near the brink of forgetfulness that only the voice of his mother, which he had not heard for so long, had drawn him back from it. Nothing should be taken out of his room; everything must stay as it was; he could not dispense with the good influence of the furniture on his state of mind; and even if the furniture did hamper him in his senseless crawling round and round, that was no drawback but a great advantage.
But his sister is determined - everything must go, including a picture on the wall of a pretty lady, to which Gregor is particularly attached:
And so he rushed out - the women were just leaning against the writing desk in the next room to give themselves a breather - and four times changed his direction, since he really did not know what to rescue first, then on the wall opposite, which was already otherwise cleared, he was struck by the picture of the lady muffled in so much fur and quickly crawled up to it and pressed himself to the glass, which was a good surface to hold on to and comforted his hot belly. This picture at least, which was entirely hidden beneath him, was going to be removed by nobody.
If you've a friend who might be partial to our classic fiction outings, we've introduced a special Mark Steyn Club Gift Membership. Aside from Tales for Our Time we'll also be presenting a special edition of The Mark Steyn Show later this week.