What does this quote mean?  "If the literature we are reading does not wake us, why then do we read it? A literary work must be an ice axe to break the sea frozen inside us." - Franz Kafka

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mizzwillie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This quote by Franz Kafka is a great statement about the value of literature.  His idea is that literature is the hammer to break up the frozen inside of us all, that the reading of literature will be the "ice axe" to break apart our resistance to great ideas contained in great literature.  Literature has to "wake us", to awaken the thirst for what literature can teach us.  Kafka is not a simple writer; what he writes takes thought and consideration on the part of the reader.  Perhaps his own writing, which is often so dark a picture of humanity, makes this statement even more important because he is such a great writer and knows that the value of what we read affects who we are and how we think.

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