A Short Story by Franz Kafka – “The Art of the Start” by John Medina
In the book, “The Art of the Start” by John Medina, Khalid al-Hamad is called the Art of the Start and plays a very important role in this first novel. He is an Islamic philosopher and, as we see in the first chapter, he believes he has his own truth. We read about him as he has a train journey with his friends. This starts him on a path to exploration.
During this first chapter, we read of a disillusioned Zarar, a Muslim whose tolerance is put to the test as he refuses to throw away his rituals for the ritual killing of Jews in Vilna. As a result, the Germans find him and deport him to Auschwitz. As we read of the events leading up to the deportation, we find that all of the German Jews were being sent to Auschwitz by Khalid al-Hamad, who is appointed to oversee their religious, social and cultural needs.
As I mentioned before, this chapter is all about Hamad al-Alami and how he puts together a very interesting concept. In an earlier section, he says, “This world which God has made is similar to Paradise.” In this final chapter, we see how he actually lives in paradise on earth and his view of the world.
Part one sees us traveling with Khalid al-Hamad and we see him as he is talking to some girls. As he tells his friends to do their prayers and describes his journeys, we see how his views of the world are changing. His views begin to change when he sees the old people using wrong utensils and about how they are living in a time that is not a time of perfection.
As the story progresses, we see how Hamad al-Alami does his business, the reason why he seems to have his own truth and how he meets his future wife after he comes to terms with his past. His story ends with his rejection of Stalin’s autocracy. Unfortunately, Hamad is driven out of Latvia and moves to America, although he never gives up his dream of living in perfect harmony with the universe.
This is one of my favorite chapters of Kafka’s short stories and one of the best of all the short stories by Kafka in general. The last few lines of the story show how Kafka took his own life and how a different character begins to fulfil his dreams. Kafka was so influenced by the science fiction writers such as Isaac Asimov and Stanley G Weinbaum that he later wrote a series of short stories in that style.
Kafka lived in San Francisco during his early life and worked as a freelance writer for magazines such as Time. In 1934, he moved to Prague, Czechoslovakia and the rest, as they say, is history. This book brings Kafka’s vision of the world into our modern times and the story is not a dull one.
This novel should be read by everyone because of the amazing imagery of the characters, especially Hamad. It has a great ending, too.
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