By Raymond Armstrong
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Additional resources for Kafka and Pinter Shadow-Boxing: The Struggle between Father and Son
This sympathetic sibship adumbrates the very loving alliance between Kafka himself and Ottla, the youngest of his three sisters (and the only one of them who was neither married nor betrothed when he was writing 'The Metamorphosis'). ] withdraws, embarks on a life of her own, and leaves the one who needs her' (FEL 395) - Ottla never stopped caring for her fraternal mate, and indeed continued to attend to him even after she got married and had a child. It sometimes seemed to Kafka as if his angelic little sister were 'literally bearing [him] up on her wings through the difficult world' (FFE 137).
It is no coincidence that his immediate priority should be to save the portrait of 'the lady muffled in so much fur' (CSS 118). He franticly scurries up the wall and presses himself against it, concealing the entire frame with his body. At this juncture, Gregor would appear to care more for the picture than he does for his own family. He is even prepared to fly in his sister's face rather than relinquish it. At first, he finds that the coolness of the glass comforts 'his hot belly' (CSS 118). Nevertheless, it quickly becomes apparent that this material is in fact an icy barrier which separates him from the Descriptions of a Struggle 25 true object of his desire.
Pinter therefore would certainly have had the opportunity and, judging from his own remarks, the inclination to obtain and digest the lion's share of the Kafkan canon long before he came to write The Homecoming (1964). At the same time, he would also have had access to the essential biographical information about Kafka contained in the memoirs of both Max Brod and Gustav Janouch. The Homecoming was Pinter's fourth full-length play and is, in 40 Kafka and Pinter: Shadow-Boxing the opinion of many critics, his masterpiece.