“An Imperial Message” and the Inescapable System 《御旨》与难以逃离的系统
About the Event 关于活动
Eine kaiserliche Botschaft (An Imperial Message) is a short parable by Frank Kafka, one of the most important literary figures of the 20th century. The parable is about a messenger who failed to deliver the message of the dying emperor out of the majestic and obstructing city wall no matter how hard he tried. In other words, he just couldn't reach "your gate", not to mention to read the "imperial message" he was supposed to deliver to you. The process of delivering the message from afar was teeming with difficulties and uncertainties. The story, in a sense, is a metaphor of individuals escaping the system. The profound insights Kafka demonstrated imbues the story with a strong sense of contemporaneity.
"Metaphor" plays an important role in Adel Abdessemed's practice. To him, "escape" is a theme that he constantly revisits and responds to. It pushes us to think: What are the "inescapable systems" surrounding us? As individuals living within this system, will we gradually lose ourselves?
Speaker Zhang Yi is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature and World Literature of Zhejiang Normal University. He will lead audience to take a closer look into the artistic characteristics of An Imperial Message and several other works by Kafka, including Before the Law, The Next Village and The Great Wall of China. With an introduction of Kafka's life stories, the speaker inspires audience to reflect upon the contemporary dailiness, exploring social issues such as public relations and self-consciousness. Those inescapable systems are exactly where Kafka' charisma lies and the embodiment of the abyss of terror of the modern world.
《御旨》（Eine kaiserliche Botschaft，或译《一道圣旨》）是二十世纪现代派文学先驱卡夫卡的重要作品之一。它篇幅不长，讲述了皇帝的一个信使无论如何也无法走出皇城，也就无法抵达“你”的家门，更无法向你宣读他所携带的“御旨”。来自远方的消息在传递的进程中困难重重而又结局未卜，这个充满隐喻的故事在某种意义上表达了个体对系统的逃离，是卡夫卡对现代世界的洞见和寓言，他此刻成为了我们的同代人。
About the Speaker 关于讲者
Zhang Yi is a Ph.D. Candidate in Comparative Literature and World Literature at Zhejiang Normal University. His interest of research includes Kafka studies and 20th century German literature. His writings and translations have been published on journals such as Writers and World Literature Studies. His book Variations on Rescue and Escape – Interpretation of Kafka's "A Country Doctor: Short Stories" (co-author) will be published soon.