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Question ‘Honoured members of the Academy!’ (Franz Kafka) How does Red Peter’s address to a learned audience in Kafka’s ‘A Report to an Academy’ satirise the ideals of civilised culture? 1500 words...

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‘Honoured members of the Academy!’ (Franz Kafka)
How does Red Peter’s address to a learned audience in Kafka’s ‘A Report to an Academy’ satirise the ideals of civilised culture?
1500 words
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ecame so clear to me that I venture nevertheless to give some version of what my
father said. I am doing so because it was very characteristic of the popular point of
view. My father said something like this: An unknown boatman -- I know all those
who usually pass by here, but this one was a stranger -- has just told me that a great
wall is going to be built to protect the Emperor. For it seems that infidel tribes, among
them demons, often assemble before the imperial palace and shoot their black a
at the Emperor.
Translated by Tania and James Stern
A Report to an Academy
HONORED MEMBERS of the Academy!
You have done me the honor of inviting me to give your Academy an account
of the life I formerly led as an ape.
I regret that I cannot comply with your request to the extent you desire. It is
now nearly five years since I was an ape, a short space of time, perhaps, according to
the calendar, but an infinitely long time to gallop through at full speed, as I have done,
more or less accompanied by excellent mentors, good advice, applause, and orchestral
music, and yet essentially alone, since all my escorters, to keep the image, kept well off
the course. I could never have achieved what I have done had I been stu
ornly set on
clinging to my origins, to the remem
ances of my youth. In fact, to give up being
orn was the supreme commandment I laid upon myself; free ape as I was, I
submitted myself to that yoke. In revenge, however, my memory of the past has closed
the door against me more and more. I could have returned at first, had human beings
allowed it, through an archway as wide as the span of heaven over the earth, but as I
ed myself on in my forced career, the opening na
owed and shrank behind me; I
felt more comfortable in the world of men and fitted it better; the strong wind that
lew after me out of my past began to slacken; today it is only a gentle puff of air that
plays around my heels; and the opening in the distance, through which it comes and
through which I once came myself, has grown so small that, even if my strength and
my will power sufficed to get me back to it, I should have to scrape the very skin from
my body to crawl through. To put it plainly, much as I like expressing myself in
images, to put it plainly: your life as apes, gentlemen, insofar as something of that kind
lies behind you, cannot be farther removed from you than mine is from me. Yet
everyone on earth feels a tickling at the heels; the small chimpanzee and the great
Achilles alike.
But to a lesser extent I can perhaps meet your demand, and indeed I do so with
the greatest pleasure. The first thing I learned was to give a handshake; a handshake
etokens frankness; well, today, now that I stand at the very peak of my career, I hope
to add frankness in words to the frankness of that first handshake. What I have to tell
the Academy will contribute nothing essentially new, and will fall far behind what you
have asked of me and what with the best will in the world I cannot communicate --
nonetheless, it should indicate the line an erstwhile ape has had to follow in entering
and establishing himself in the world of men. Yet I could not risk putting into words
even such insignificant information as I am going to give you if I were not quite sure of
myself and if my position on all the great variety stages of the civilized world had not
ecome quite unassailable.
I belong to the Gold Coast. For the story of my capture I must depend on the
evidence of others. A hunting expedition sent out by the firm of Hagenbeck -- by the
way, I have drunk many a bottle of good red wine since then with the leader of that
expedition -- had taken up its position in the bushes by the shore when I came down
for a drink at evening among a troop of apes. They shot at us; I was the only one that
was hit; I was hit in two places.
Once in the cheek; a slight wound; but it left a large, naked, red scar which
earned me the name of Red Peter, a ho
ible name, utterly inappropriate, which only
some ape could have thought of, as if the only difference between me and the
performing ape Peter, who died not so long ago and had some small local reputation,
were the red mark on my cheek. This by the way.
The second shot hit me below the hip. It was a severe wound, it is the cause of
my limping a little to this day. I read an article recently by one of the ten thousand
windbags who vent themselves concerning me in the newspapers, saying: my ape
nature is not yet quite under control; the proof being that when visitors come to see
me, I have a predilection for taking down my trousers to show them where the shot
went in. The hand which wrote that should have its fingers shot away one by one. As
for me, I can take my trousers down before anyone if I like; you would find nothing but
a well-groomed fur and the scar made -- let me be particular in the choice of a word
for this particular purpose, to avoid misunderstanding -- the scar made by a wanton
shot. Everything is open and aboveboard; there is nothing to conceal; when the plain
truth is in question, great minds discard the niceties of refinement. But if the writer of
the article were to take down his trousers before a visitor, that would be quite another
story, and I will let it stand to his credit that he does not do it. In return, let him leave
me alone with his delicacy!
After these two shots I came to myself -- and this is where my own memories
gradually begin -- between decks in the Hagenbeck steamer, inside a cage. It was not a
Salam Asad
four-sided ba
ed cage; it was only a three-sided cage nailed to a locker; the locker
made the fourth side of it. The whole construction was too low for me to stand up in
and too na
ow to sit down in. So I had to squat with my knees bent and trembling all
the time, and also, since probably for a time I wished to see no one, and to stay in the
dark, my face was turned toward the locker while the bars of the cage cut into my flesh
ehind. Such a method of confining wild beasts is supposed to have its advantages
during the first days of captivity, and out of my own experiences I cannot deny that
from the human point of view this is really the case.
But that did not occur to me then. For the first time in my life I could see no
way out; at least no direct way out; directly in front of me was the locker, board fitted
close to board. True, there was a gap running right through the boards which I greeted
with the blissful howl of ignorance when I first discovered it, but the hole was not even
wide enough to stick one's tail through and not all the strength of an ape could enlarge
I am supposed to have made uncommonly little noise, as I was later informed,
from which the conclusion was drawn that I would either soon die or if I managed to
survive the first critical period would be very amenable to training. I did survive this
period. Hopelessly so
ing, painfully hunting for fleas, apathetically licking a
cocoanut, beating my skull against the locker, sticking out my tongue at anyone who
came near me -- that was how I filled in time at first in my new life. But over and
above it all only the one feeling: no way out. Of course what I felt then as an ape I can
epresent now only in human terms, and therefore I misrepresent it, but although I
cannot reach back to the truth of the old ape life, there is no doubt that it lies
somewhere in the direction I have indicated.
Until then I had had so many ways out of everything, and now I had none. I was
pinned down. Had I been nailed down, my right to free movement would not have
een lessened. Why so? Scratch your flesh raw between your toes, but you won't find
the answer. Press yourself against the bar behind you till it nearly cuts you in two, you
won't find the answer. I had no way out but I had to devise one, for without it I could
not live. All the time facing that locker -- I should certainly have perished. Yet as far as
Hagenbeck was concerned, the place for apes was in front of a
Answered Same Day Aug 21, 2021


Somudranil answered on Aug 23 2021
143 Votes
Last Name:         1
Title: Honoured Members of the Academy! (Franz Kafka)
Table of Contents
Introduction    3
Understanding the story    3
Analysis    5
Author’s intention of satirising the society through stylistic elements    6
Conclusion    7
Works Cited    8
Franz Kafka is known to dwell upon common themes in his short stories. His accounts are a more profound translation of contemporary society. Kafka has satirized his public, which he thinks to be futile, and shallow from numerous points of view in accordance to his notions. Alienation of an individual from his own family often builds up the reflective screen in his story. Estrangement of oneself from religion, humankind and society likewise contain the subjects of his short stories. As Kafka sees the world, he just observes bewilderment notwithstanding humankind, in the wake of the innovative age. Kafka’s fantastical and absurd storylines are often developed from this element of confusion that prevails over the society. It has been observed by critics that Kafka’s stories often describe weird and uncanny behaviours or desires of humankind, which is much distu
ing to analyse.
‘A Report for an Academy’ is a lesser-known short story by Kafka. It is highly critical in its outlook and observation of modern society, individualism and human behaviour. It is uncanny and absurd, strange, interesting and allows the readers to ruminate on the thought provoked by the story. This short story also belongs to Kafka’s cannon of absurd social commentary. Satirising the society through a modern fable could not have been done better by anyone else other than Franz Kafka.
Understanding the story
‘A Report for an Academy’ this story by Franz Kafka, which delves deeply into the functional framework of the speech addressed to an unknown, unnamed academy by an individual named as Red Peter. This Red Peter is identified as an ape within the first few paragraphs by the author. However, in this story, Red Peter does not happen to be an ape of any kind, or common talking apes or monkeys that we observe in the fables. According to ‘A Report for an Academy’, Red Peter is a special ape who has been educated by humans and the modern society and this education has helped Red Peter to reach the level of heightened sensibility and human intelligence. The reason and the way through which Red Peter achieved this level of heightened sensibility make up the main crux of his speech at the academy.
Red Peter informs that he was captured in his initial days by a zoological expedition team, which was hunting for live specimens (Mansfield). The na
ator understood that if he had to deal with the captivity and
utality from his captors, who were essentially humans, he had to grasp through intuition, imitate, and conform to certain sets of human behaviours. Red Peter realised that this was the only way to redeem him from the captivity and the ill treatment that he has to face.
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