October 1915

Kafka and the metamorphoses of soldiers

In October 1915, in the battle of Loos (Flanders), better known at the time as “The Big Push”, the British army used for the first time poison gas, in order to react to the Germans. And sooner or later all armies introduced in mass this kind of weapons. The soldiers tried to protect themselves with masks; their appearence began suddenly to change, in a descent to the abyss of alienation. They ceased to be “persons”, transformed in monsters. The analogy is open – for our artist – with Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”, published for the first time in the same month in the Prague journal Die weißen Blätter. It’s one of the milestones of modern literature, underlying the themes of alienation and de-personalisation.