The underground piece


 The Burrow (Der Bau) is one of Kafka's short stories where an inexorable outlet of a tragic destiny and an extraordinary comic distancing are mixed most violently.

Here, the black humor reaches a boiling point. A cave dweller shares with us the extreme ingenuity of his buried life and the meticulous stratagem that create a peaceful haven ; while the slightest presence, save that of particularly trustworthy man, is certainly the indication of a bloody affair.

The meticulous description of this descent into the bowls of the earth is inextricably linked to the practical and intellectual methods used to create a house of fantasy, supposed to protect from the dangers of life faced with an ever closer death, a house of which we feel will soon become, in reality, a sepulcher.

The author of The Burrow thus accomplishes a double task : he builds a curious house-fortress underground, of which he describes the characteristics throughout the short story, with a mix of grand precision and not the least grand ambiguity.


Jacques Miermont