Just today, I picked up this novel from the library. Mainly because it looked an almost impossible book to read fully, and comprehend at the same time. And I wanted some mental workout in order to broaden my horizon, as they say. Here is a paragraph that specifically appealed to me.
In my own personal history of the novel, it is Kafka who provided this new orientation: a post-Proustian orientation. His way of conceiving the self is totally unexpected. What is it that defines K. as a unique being? Neither his physical appearance (we know nothing about that), nor his biography (we don’t know it), nor his name (he has none), nor his memories, his predilections, his complexes. His behavior? His field of action islamentably limited. His thoughts? Yes, Kafka unceasingly traces K.’s reflections, but these are bent exclusively on the current situation: What should be done then and there,in the immediate circumstances? Go to the interrogation or evade it? Obey the priest’s summons or not? All of K.’s interior life is absorbed by the situation he finds himself trapped in, and nothing that might refer beyond that situation (K.’s memories, his metaphysical reflections, his notions about other people) is revealed to us.
-Milan Kundera, The Art Of the Novel