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SecurityPolitics, Humanity, and the Philology of Care$
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John T. Hamilton

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691157528

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691157528.001.0001

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Handle with Care

Handle with Care

(p.25) 3 Handle with Care

John T. Hamilton

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers one of Kafka's last stories, Der Bau (The Burrow, 1923–24). In the story, the tiny, foraging animal knows all too well that the protection of his day-to-day life demands constant awareness. Although he has completed the construction of what appears to be an impenetrable, inviolable refuge, he realizes that he can “scarcely pass an hour in complete tranquility.” In brief, Kafka's creature is terrified, and it is this terror that motivates all his cares. From the very opening sentence of Der Bau, Kafka immediately, albeit lightly, alludes to the necessary imperfection that riddles but also constitutes every security project: “Ich habe den Bau eingerichet und er scheint wohlgelungen” (I have constructed the burrow and it appears quite successful). Needless to say, what merely appears to be secure can never be entirely foolproof; and, in fact, for the remainder of Kafka's story, the subterranean creature wrestles with gnawing doubts and troubling concerns.

Keywords:   hope, care, Franz Kafka, Der Bau, animals

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