a country doctor full text

And I nod to the family. But I immediately remember that he is a stranger, that I dont know where he comes from, and that hes helping me out of his own free will, when everyone else is refusing to. Yes, I think blasphemously, its in these sorts of cases that the gods send their help, they supply a horse, throw in another because time is short, even contribute a groom and now I remember Rosa; what shall I do, how can I rescue her, how can I pull her out from under that groom, ten miles away, and with ungovernable horses pulling my carriage? from your Reading List will also remove any I had a carriagea light one, with large wheels, entirely suitable for our country roads. Only if we understand Kafka's notion of disease as resulting from seclusion can we begin to understand the country doctor. True, as a medical man he cannot be expected to save a patient whose sickness is, above all, of a spiritual nature. Her comment and their laughter at the sudden appearance of the horses reveal that these sensual and spiritual elements are present, but that they need to be brought out. The meaning is clear, considering that December 1917, the year after he wrote "A Country Doctor," brought Kafka's final separation from Felice, his "rose" in both senses of the word. Filling prescriptions is easy, but getting on with people is much harder. The family was pleased; they saw me busying myself; the sister told the mother, the mother the father, the father told several guests who were coming in, through the moonlight at the open door, walking on tiptoe, keeping their balance with outstretched arms. The doctor also yells "gee up" at the end but, time being the correlative of experience, they will only crawl "slowly, like old men"; escaping from the patient and erring through the snowy wastes, the doctor has no experience by which to divide up time and, consequently, loses his orientation. From there, they cannot help, the point being that they have lost the capability of doing that long ago.

Ho, brother, ho, sister! called the stable lad, and two horses, mighty, powerful-flanked creatures crept out one after another, legs tucked in close to their bodies, bending their shapely heads in the manner of camels, only barely managing to twist their way through the doorway which their rumps completely filled. Ill go back right away, I think, as if the horses were summoning me to return, but I allow the sister, who must think Ive got heatstroke, to help me off with my fur coat. And theres no exit in any direction bookmarked pages associated with this title. Closer to, theres a further complication. Then they all left the room; the door was shut; the singing stopped; clouds covered the moon; the bedding was warm around me; the horses heads in the open windows wavered like shadows.

is the "new but faulty song": the empirical and the transcendental realms are no longer one; the only way they meet is in the form of a clash leading to a "false alarm.". But as I shut my bag and put an arm out for my fur coat, the family meanwhile standing together, the father sniffing at the glass of rum in his hand, the mother, apparently disappointed in mewhy, what do people expect?biting her lips with tears in her eyes, the sister fluttering a blood-soaked towel, I was somehow ready to admit conditionally that the boy might be ill after all. I confirmed what I already knew; the boy was quite sound, something a little wrong with his circulation, saturated with coffee by his solicitous mother, but sound and best turned out of bed with one shove. The boy does not trust the doctor, and his family displays the subservient and naive behavior of the average patient. A seriously ill man was waiting for me in a village ten miles distant. The most famous of his works are the unfinished novels The Trial, The Castle, and Amerika, and the short stories collected under the title The Penal Colony, from which this story is taken. Always demanding the impossible from their doctor.

"If they misuse me for sacred reasons, I let that happen too," the doctor says. Here is a good starting point for examining the story. His visit to the patient seems to be a visit into the bewildering depths of his own personality, for there is no actual ringing of the bell. I was badly paid and yet generous and helpful to the poor. Though badly paid, I am generous and helpful to the poor. All I seemed to be doing was climb, Wasnt looking for any special assistance Right away, the horses respond to the fiery "gee up" of the groom, who has already demonstrated his kinship with their world by calling them "brother" and "sister." The servant girl was standing beside me. A fine wound is all I brought into the world; that was my sole endowment. My young friend, said I, your mistake is: you have not a wide enough view. I was the district doctor and did my duty to the uttermost, to the point where it became almost too much. Betrayed! The horses were still standing faithfully in their places. A steam and smell as of horses came out from it. But at once they were standing up, their legs long and their bodies steaming thickly. Yet hardly was she beside him when the groom clipped hold of her and pushed his face against hers. Of course, said he, Im not coming with you anyway, Im staying with Rose. No, shrieked Rose, fleeing into the house with a justified presentiment that her fate was inescapable: I heard the door chain rattle as she put it up; I heard the key turn in the lock; I could see, moreover, how she put out the lights in the entrance hall and in further flight all through the rooms to keep herself from being discovered.

I am confirmed in what I thought already: the boy is perfectly healthy, his circulation a little sluggish, plied with coffee by his anxious mother, but basically healthy and needing nothing more than a good kick to get him out of bed. Those horses, apropos, that seem now to have loosened their traces; are nudging open the window from outside, dont ask me how; pushing their heads through the opening, and, unimpressed by the screams of the family, are contemplating the patient. I have to extricate my new team from a pig-sty; if there hadnt happened to be horses in it, I should have had to make do with pigs, I suppose. What Id like best is to scratch your eyes out. Right, I said, it is a shame. The servant girl stood beside me. In portraying this nightmare, Kafka has succeeded in portraying the situation of the man who wants to help but cannot. A dim stall lantern on a rope swayed inside. I am employed by the parish, and do my duty to the point where it is almost too much for one man. Knowing to what extremes Kafka tends to carry the art of name-giving, it is easy to see that the servant girl's name, Rose, is by no means accidental: "rosered" is the color of the meticulously described wound, and the color rose, as well as the flower, is an age-old symbol of love in its manifold facets.

Previous She screamed and fled back to me; on her cheek stood out in red the marks of two rows of teeth. There is no need to insist on one specific meaning of the word, if only because Kafka himself does not. But right away they stood up straight, long legged, with thick steaming bodies. Worms, as thick and as long as my little finger, themselves rose red and blood-spotted as well, were wriggling from their fastness in the interior of the wound towards the light, with small white heads and many little legs. Get in, he says finally, and indeed, everything is ready. Twice the doctor complains that his own horse died, and both times his remarks are accompanied by winter scenes, suggesting the barrenness of the (spiritual) wasteland around him. Well, this should be the end of my visit, I had once more been called out needlessly, I was used to that, the whole district made my life a torment with my night bell, but that I should have to sacrifice Rose this time as well, the pretty girl who had lived in my house for years almost without my noticing herthat sacrifice was too much to ask, and I had somehow to get it reasoned out in my head with the help of what craft I could muster, in order not to let fly at this family, which with the best will in the world could not restore Rose to me. In the gateway the girl appeared, alone, and waved the lantern; of course, who would lend a horse at this time for such a journey? Poor boy, you were past helping. Help him, I said, and right away the willing girl ran up to hand the harness to the groom. The anxiety prevailing throughout this story also reflects Kafka's problems resulting from his second engagement to Felice Bauer and his deteriorating health. A man huddled down in the stall below showed his open blue-eyed face. The closing picture of the fur coat trailing in the snow behind the doctor mirrors the helplessness of one who has been "betrayed." Naked, exposed to the frost of this most unhappy of ages, with an earthly vehicle, unearthly horses, old man that I am, I wander astray. I go over to him, he smiles at me, as though I were bringing him some beef-teaoh dear, and then both the horses start whinnying; I suppose the noise has been called for from above somewhere, to make the inspection of the patient easierand now I find: the boy is sick. I shake my head; I feel sick in the narrow confines of the old mans thoughts; that is the only reason I turn down the drink. The story is also exciting because of its fragmentary character a symptom of Kafka's searching mind, reflected here in an almost stammering rhythm. I should like to see Rosa provided for, and then the boy may have his way as far as Im concerned, and I shall be ready to die as well. The word Kafkaesque entered the English language as shorthand for the disorientation and senselessness that Kafka so artfully detailed in works such as The Trial, The Metamorphosis, and The Castle. Wasnt making any great connection Who could take in such a thing without whistling softly? A Country Doctor" (Ein Landarzt)", In The Penal Colony" (In Der Strafkolonie)", The Hunter Gracchus" (Der Jager Gracchus)", Investigations of a Dog" (Forschungen Eines Hundes)", A Report to an Academy"(Ein Bericht An Eine Akademie)", The Great Wall of China" (Beim Bau Der Chinesischen Mauer)", Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk" (Josephine Die Sanngerin)". Many a one proffers his side and can hardly hear the ax in the forest, far less that it is coming nearer to him. Is that really so, or are you deluding me in my fever? It is really so, take the word of honor of an official doctor. And he took it and lay still. Will you save me? whispered the boy with a sob, quite blinded by the life within his wound. Done in a tight corner with two strokes of the ax. Warm air and a horsey smell greeted me. Ill take the reins, though, you dont know the way, I say. You never know what you have in your own house, she said, whereupon we both laughed. Poor boy, its not going to be possible to help you. A man, crouching on his hams in that low space, showed an open blue-eyed face. From a distance, at any rate. This is why the song of "Oh be joyful, all you patients the doctor's laid in bed beside you!" A magnificent pair of horses, I observed, such as I had never sat behind, and I climbed in happily. They laid me down in it next to the wall, on the side of the wound. But then, once outside, they immediately drew themselves up to their full height, with long legs and solid steaming bodies. And yet I am a doctor. In one, I was running, and in another But now it was time for me to think of escaping. Believe me, it is not too easy for me either. Am I supposed to be content with this apology? Then my clothes were off and I looked at the people quietly, my fingers in my beard and my head cocked to one side. 2022 Course Hero, Inc. All rights reserved. I shook my head; in the narrow confines of the old mans thoughts I felt ill; that was my only reason for refusing the drink. I was in a quandary: my presence was urgently required; a gravely ill man was waiting for me in a village ten miles distant; a blizzard filled the space between me and my goal; I had a carriage, light, high-wheeled, eminently suited to our country roads; wrapped in my fur, with my Gladstone bag in my hand, I stood in the courtyard all ready to go; but the horse was missing, there was no horse. Do you know, said a voice in my ear, I have very little confidence in you. According to Kafka, anxiety and concomitant alienation are the direct consequence of man's spiritual withering, and all psychoanalysis can possibly do is discover the myriad pieces of one's shattered universe. A Hunger Artist" (Ein Hungerkunstler)", Next The misunderstanding between the physician and the patient is a reflection of the equally barren relationship between the old Kafka and the young Kafka. A glass of rum was poured out for me, the old man clapped me on the shoulder, a familiarity justified by this offer of his treasure. Summary and Analysis Help him, I said, and the girl obediently hurried to hand the wagon harness to the groom. "That's how the people act in my district; they always expect the impossible from the doctor," he says, explaining why he or, on another plane, the writer cannot be of any real help to the patient. They have lost their old faith; the priest sits around at home, ripping up his altar garments one after another; but the doctor is expected to perform miracles with his delicate surgeons fingers. And comes to a permanent stop, Wasnt thinking of anything specific But Ill take the reins. Beside me stood the maid. Nearly a decade after his death, Kafkas notebooks and letters were confiscated by the Gestaposcholars search for them still. Shortly after his condition was diagnosed as tuberculosis, he wrote to Max Brod that he had predicted this disease himself and that his anticipation occurred in the wound of the sick boy in "A Country Doctor.". There are not yet any comments on this story. Just thinkin of a series of dreams, Dreams where the umbrella is folded Greatly adding to the story's dramatic impact, the doctor's night journey and Rose's rape are merged here on a logically inexplicable level. The groom represents Kafka's sometimes almost obsessive fear of a sexually superior rival. Like the doctor himself, his "pack of patients" has stepped outside the law" and into chaos. My servant girl was at that very moment running around the village to see if she could borrow a horse, but it was hopelessI knew thatand I stood there useless, increasingly covered with snow, becoming all the time more immobile. Kafka's recurring motif of the hunt (compare this story with "The Hunter Gracchus" and "The Burrow") has found expression in these galloping sentences, each seeming to chase the one before it. My horse has died, and there is no one in the village prepared to lend me his. And Kafka, though interested in Freud's teachings, regarded at least the therapeutical part of psychoanalysis as a hopeless error. I walked once again across the courtyard. The fact that they have come out of a pigsty here underscores their animalistic nature. Yes, I thought blasphemously, in cases like this the gods are helpful, send the missing horse, add to it a second because of the urgency, and to crown everything bestow even a groom And only now did I remember Rose again; what was I to do, how could I rescue her, how could I pull her away from under that groom at ten miles distance, with a team of horses I couldnt control. She was swinging the lantern. This is why the patient's question is not if the doctor will heal him or cure him, but if he will save him. In his right flank, at around hip-height, he has a fresh wound as big as my hand. Nothing that would pass inspection Yet he is guilty because he lacks the will to try his level best; he is afraid to act like a "world reformer" and pats himself on the shoulder for doing so much work for so little pay. In the story, the groom certainly gets to Rose easily, and if she says "no," she nevertheless runs into the house fully aware of her fate. "A fine wound is all I brought into the world," the patient complains, thereby suggesting that the doctor is his potential healer and belongs to him. You never know what youre going to find in your own house, she said, and we both laughed. Youre coming with me, I said to the groom, or I wont go, urgent as my journey is. Traveling through endless wastes on his straying gig, the doctor is doomed to see the symbol of warmth and security without being able to reach it. Thats the way people are in this parish. Cept the one that you cant see with your eyes CliffsNotes study guides are written by real teachers and professors, so no matter what you're studying, CliffsNotes can ease your homework headaches and help you score high on exams. A dim stable lantern dangled on a rope. Kafka used an unusual technique for telling his story of "A Country Doctor": he wrote in the first person, thereby imparting an exciting degree of immediacy to the story. Of course, he says, Im not even going with you, Im staying with Rosa. No, screams Rosa, and runs into the house with a presentiment of her inevitable fate; I hear the rattle of the chain on the door, as she pulls it across; I hear the click of the lock; I see her turning out the lights in the hall, and then running on through the house, to make it impossible for him to find her. During his entire journey, the doctor never leaves the vast regions of his unconscious, of which his patient is perhaps the darkest aspect. Shall I yoke up? he asked, crawling out on all fours. The question of the doctor's guilt provokes thoughts of uncertainty and ambiguity. Less than one-quarter of his writing consists of completed works. To write prescriptions is easy, but to come to an understanding with people is hard. But on a closer inspection there was another complication. These horses, now, they had somehow slipped the reins loose, pushed the windows open from outside, I did not know how; each of them had stuck a head in at a window and, quite unmoved by the startled cries of the family, stood eyeing the patient. Oh, I must be, I cant help it. On this subject, he wrote that Felice did not stay alone and that someone else got close to her who did not have the problems which he, Kafka, had to face. Gee up! I said, but there was no galloping; slowly, like old men, we crawled through the snowy wastes; a long time echoed behind us the new but faulty song of the children: O be joyful, all you patients,

In this sense, he becomes guilty of the classic existential sin failing or refusing to become involved. The horses take over completely, at any rate, covering the distance to the patient's farm in an incredibly short period of time which, symbolically enough, is exactly the time it takes the groom to subdue Rose. Just thinkin of a series of dreams. Almost a hundred years later Bob Dylan would pen a poetic subjective description of dreams that recalls Kafkas technique in its tone and enigmatic series of visions: I was thinkin of a series of dreams This line may be a clue. But all is only for an instant, then, as if the yard of the patient were just the other side of my front gate, I am there already; the horses are standing quietly; the snow has stopped; moonlight on all sides; the patients parents come running out of the house, his sister behind them; I am lifted almost bodily out of the carriage; I can make no sense of their confused reports; the air in the sick mans room is barely breathable; the neglected stove is smoking; I want to throw open the window; but first of all I want to see my patient. Will you save me? the boy whimpers, dazzled by the life in his wound. Pink, in many shades, a deep carmine at the center, lightening towards the periphery, with a soft granular texture, the bleeding at irregular points, and the whole thing as gapingly obvious as a mine-shaft. By not taking his profession seriously and therefore lacking in responsibility, he forfeits his only chance of taking the decisive step from mere vegetating to conscious living. Id already gone the distance That was how it was. Although "In the Penal Colony," written two years earlier, is a better expression of Kafka's horror of World War I, there is much concern here for innocent scapegoats. Naked and cold and gone astray, the country doctor is the pitiful picture of disoriented mankind drifting over the treacherous landscape of its sick collective consciousness. I strode across the yard once more; I could see no possibility; distracted, tormented, I kicked at the rickety door of a pig-sty unused for many years. An urgent journey was facing me. But no sooner has she reached him than the groom throws his arms around her, and thrusts his face against hers. Gaunt, without any fever, not cold, not warm, with vacant eyes, without a shirt, the youngster heaved himself up from under the feather bedding, threw his arms round my neck, and whispered in my ear: Doctor, let me die. I glanced round the room; no one had heard it; the parents were leaning forward in silence waiting for my verdict; the sister had set a chair for my handbag; I opened the bag and hunted among my instruments; the boy kept clutching at me from his bed to remind me of his entreaty; I picked up a pair of tweezers, examined them in the candlelight and laid them down again. You animal! I scream in my rage, do you want a taste of my whip? but I straightaway calm down, reminding myself Im talking to a stranger, that I dont know where he comes from and that he has agreed to help me when everyone else has let me down. The mother stands by the bed waving me to her; I follow, and while one of the horses is whinnying loudly somewhere under the ceiling, I lay my head against the chest of the boy, who shivers from the touch of my wet beard. But when I close my bag and wave for my fur coat, the family is assembled, the father sniffing at the rum glass in his hand, the mother, presumably disappointed in mebut what do these people expect?biting her lips and sobbing, and the sister waving around a blood-soaked handkerchief, I am somehow ready to admit under the circumstances that the boy may after all be ill. My own horse had died the previous night, as a result of over exertion in this icy winter. The strange (and estranged) patient waiting for him does not really exist outside the doctor's imagination; he may be seen as part of the doctor's personality, playing a role comparable to that of the "distant friend" in "The judgment" or the gigantic insect in "The Metamorphosis." The door opened and banged to and fro on its hinges. I couldnt see what to do. Into the path you are hurled The family are happy, they watch me going about my job; the sister tells the mother, the mother tells the father, the father tells some of the visitors who are tiptoeing in through the door in the bright moonlight, arms extended for balance. And the cards are no good that youre holding Good enough. and any corresponding bookmarks? A man, hunkered down in the low-ceilinged sty, showed his open-featured, blue-eyed face. I had to get my team out of the pigsty; if they hadnt chanced to be horses I should have had to travel with swine. My fur coat is hanging from the back of the gig, but I cannot reach it, and none of my limber pack of patients lifts a finger. by Franz Kafka, translated by Michael Hofmann. Without his doing anything special, the doctor draws exactly the help he needs when he kicks the door of the pigsty. Well, as it pleases them; I have not thrust my services on them; if they misuse me for sacred ends, I let that happen to me too; what better do I want, old country doctor that I am, bereft of my servant girl! Just thinkin of a series of dreams, Thinkin of a series of dreams Well, my visit here is about over, once again Ive been called out for nothing, Im used to that, the whole parish uses my night bell to torture me with, but the fact that this time I had to sacrifice Rosa as well, that lovely girl who has been living for years in my own house, most of the time stupidly overlooked by methat loss is simply too great, and I must work hard to shrink it in my own head so as not to take it out on this family here, which with the best will in the world is not going to be able to restore Rosa to me.