Give It Up!

“Give It Up!” (German: “Gibs auf!”), written by Franz Kafka between 1917 and 1923, first appeared in Beschreibung eines Kampfes (1936, Description of a Struggle, translated 1958). See here.

It was very early in the morning, the streets clean and deserted, I was on my way to the station. As I compared the tower clock with my watch I realized it was much later than I had thought and that I had to hurry; the shock of this discovery made me feel uncertain of the way, I wasn’t very well acquainted with the town as yet; fortunately, there was a policeman at hand, I ran to him and breathlessly asked him the way. He smiled and said:

“You asking me the way?”

“Yes,” I said, “since I can’t find it myself.”

“Give it up! Give it up!” said he, and turned with a sudden jerk, like someone who wants to be alone with his laughter.

By Franz Kafka, Trans. Stern, Tania and James


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