Letter to the Father

Franz Kafka's Letter to the FatherTranslating a text into another language is like trying to reproduce a landscape in a 1:1 map. The only success we can hope for is the acknowledgement that it is an impossible task and that approximation is the best that we can strive for.

I discovered Kafka when I was thirteen. I started reading a one-page adaptation of the Metamorphosis thanks to a visionary teacher. When we moved on to read Letter to the Father, the teacher told us that Franz Kafka had such a fear and reverence towards his parent, that in the letter he capitalised all pronouns that referred to him.

I know now that those capital letters weren’t a sign of Kafka’s reverence and respect, but simply a rule of the German language that dictates that you always capitalise pronouns that refer to the addressee.

Was it right to leave those capitalisations in the translation or would have been better to normalise them, as they were normal in German, by using small letters? I know that those capitalised pronouns made a huge impression on me.

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