The particular and the universal

. . . . the great paradox of national letters: writers who seem rooted in the particular but whose works are deemed universal. Arguably the greatest German writer of the 20th century was Franz Kafka who was, of course, Czech. His tales of alienation, of guilt, of not being what you seem, could perhaps only have been written by a German-speaking Jew who grew up in a Catholic Slavic city such as Prague. But what that makes Kafka – German, Jewish, Czech, Slavic – is perhaps not the point. He is a writer being true to the multitudes within himself that are one and many.

Richard Flanagan, Does Writing Matter? The Monthly 2016

(from here) 

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