"It is the shorter stories, too, that sparkle most with country glimpses, with a savor of folk tales and a still-medieval innocence. They remind us that Kafka wrote in a Europe where islands of urban wealth, culture, and discontent were surrounded by a countryside still, in its simplicity, apparently in possession of the secret of happiness, of harmony with the powers of earth and sky. Modernity has proceeded far enough, and spread wide enough, to make us doubt that anyone really has this secret. Part of Kafka’s strangeness, and part of his enduring appeal, was to suspect that everyone except himself had the secret. He received from his father an impression of helpless singularity, of being a 'slave living under laws invented only for him.' A shame literally unspeakable attached itself to this impression. Fantasy, for Kafka even more than for most writers of fiction, was the way out of his skin, so he could get back in. He felt, as it were, abashed before the fact of his own existence, 'amateurish' in that this had never been quite expressed before. So singular, he spoke for millions in their new unease; more than a century after his birth he seems the last holy writer, and the supreme fabulist of modern man’s cosmic predicament."