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Encyclopedia > In the Penal Colony

"In the Penal Colony" (German: "In der Strafkolonie") is a short story in German by Franz Kafka. It is set in an unnamed penal colony. Some commentators have suggested Octave Mirbeau's The Torture Garden as an influence.[citation needed] As in some of Kafka's other writings, the narrator in this story seems detached from, or perhaps numbed by, events that one would normally expect to be registered with horror. This article is in need of attention. ... Kafka redirects here. ... A penis colony is a colony used to detain prisoners and generally use them for penal labor in an economically underdeveloped part of the states (usually colonial) territories, and on a far larger scale than a prison farm. ... Octave Mirbeau Octave Mirbeau (February 16, 1848 in Trévières - February 16, 1917) was a French journalist, art critic, pamphleteer, novelist, and playwright, who achieved celebrity in Europe and great success among the public, while still appealing to the literary and artistic avant-garde. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... “Horror story” redirects here. ...

Contents

Plot

In the Penal Colony is a story about the last use of an elaborate torture and execution device that carves the sentence of the man on his skin in a script before letting him die, all in the course of six hours. As the plot unfolds, the narrator learns more and more about the machine, including its origin, and original justification. For other uses, see Torture (disambiguation). ...


The story has only four characters, who are named only according to their role in the story. The Officer is the machine's operator, the Condemned is a man scheduled for execution, the Soldier is responsible for guarding the Condemned, and the Traveler is a European dignitary and visitor. For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ...


The story is told from the point of view of the Traveler, who—like the reader—is encountering this brutal machine for the first time. Everything about the machine and its purpose is told to him by the Officer while the Soldier and the Condemned (who is unaware that he's been sentenced to die) placidly watch nearby. The Officer tells of the religious epiphany the executed experience in their last six hours in the machine.


Eventually it becomes clear that the use of the machine, and its associated process of justice where the accused is always instantly found guilty, has fallen out of favor with the current Commandant. The Officer is, in a cruel sense perhaps, nostalgic regarding the torture machine and the values that were intially associated with it. As the last proponent of the machine, he strongly believes in the machine's form of justice. This article is about the concept of justice. ... Guilty is also the name of: A number of songs: Guilty, a 1931 song by Richard Whiting, Harry Akst, and Gus Kahn, popularized by Johnny Desmond and later Margaret Whiting. ... Commandant is a military or police title or rank and can mean any of the following: The commander of certain military corps and services, such as the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Commandant of the Coast Guard in the United States or the Commandant of the (now obsolete...


The Officer begs the Traveler to speak to the current Commandant on behalf of the machine's continued use. When he refuses to do so, and instead says that he will speak against it, the Officer realizes that this will be the machine's last use. He frees the Condemned and sets up the machine for himself, with the words "Be Just" to be written on him.


However the machine, in heavy disrepair, malfunctions, and instead of its usual elegant operation it quickly stabs and kills the Officer. [1]


References

  • Kafka, Franz (ed. Nahum N. Glatzer). The Complete Stories. New York: Schocken Books, 1995. ISBN 0-8052-1055-5
  • Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis and Other Stories, trans. Donna Freed. New York: Barnes & Noble. ISBN 1-56619-969-7

The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka is a book which brings together all of Kafkas short stories. ...

Footnotes

  1. ^ Kafka,Franz. "In the Penal Colony," The Complete Stories. New York: Schocken Books, 1995. p. 140-167

External links

Wikisource has original text related to this article:
In the Penal Colony

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Convicts and the British colonies in Australia - Australia's Culture Portal (2004 words)
From 1788 to 1823, the Colony of New South Wales was officially a penal colony comprised mainly of convicts, marines and the wives of the marines.
Convicts formed the majority of the colony's population for the first few decades, and by 1821 there was a growing number of freed convicts who were appointed to positions of trust and responsibility as well as being granted land.
In 1824, the penal colony at Redcliffe was established by Lieutenant John Oxley.
Philip Glass: In The Penal Colony (659 words)
Glass' new "opera theatre work" In The Penal Colony is a pretty faithful translation of Kafka's long short story of the same name which was written in 1914 and published 5 years later.
In The Penal Colony is written for 2 singers -- tenor and baritone -- 1 speaking actor, 2 non-speaking ones and an unamplified string quintet, and it lasts 80 minutes, and adding anything else would have blunted its power.
In The Penal Colony has been variously interpreted as an indictment of capital punishment, a parable of social responsibility and a study in obsession.
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