A teacher tries to prove a Giant Mole is real and then finds his life ruined by the ridicule of the sceptics.
FRANZ KAFKA THE VILLAGE SCHOOLMASTER (THE GIANT MOLE)
Penned In 1914, but not published until 1933, this is one of Kafka’s most realistic and non-surreal story fragments (the work was left incomplete).
Anyone expecting a story about a giant mole attacking cities or burrowing giant tunnels through the Earth is going to be disappointed. No one turns into a mole as Samsa turns into a Scarab Beetle in the more famous Kafka tale, Metamorphosis. The mole may not even exist in this story. It has been seen, and claims have been made that it measures several yards in length. The schoolmaster in the main title is a mild mannered man who tries to piece together the evidence about the creature and its sightings to send to scientific research journals. His efforts are met with scorn, disbelief and ridicule by the academics that read it, and his life is made quite miserable.
In time, the story is forgotten, and the teacher’s life becomes tolerable once more, until another researcher, without meeting him, pens a follow up feature on the mole sightings. This fares badly too, but it is the teacher who gets the blame for it – the scientists remember his research better than the new study, which makes no effort to state the teacher’s good character or integrity. Learning that his work is ruining the teacher’s life, the new researcher tries to recover all existing copies of his own publication, with modest success.
The two men argue about identity, objectivity, the egotism behind the quest for publication and so on, but never seem to reach a conclusion or a point of truce before the story ends.
A sad, slightly unsettling tale of a man ridiculed for trying to find an unlikely truth and the past that comes back to haunt him.