Double Meaning


Masturbation and Eros respectively, both by Egon Schiele, 1911

 
 

Another example of translations problem to English: Kafka’s use of the German noun Verkehr in the final sentence of Das Urteil (The Judgment). Literally, Verkehr means intercourse and, as in English, can have either a sexual or non-sexual meaning; in addition, it is used to mean transport or traffic. The sentence can be translated as: “At that moment an unending stream of traffic crossed over the bridge”. The double meaning of Verkehr is given added weight by Kafka’s confession to Max Brod that when he wrote that final line, he was thinking of “a violent ejaculation”.

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