The Hunter Gracchus

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"The Hunter Gracchus"
Author Franz Kafka
Original title "Der Jäger Gracchus"
Language German
Genre(s) Short story
Published in Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer
Media type book (hardcover)
Publication date 1931
Published in English

"The Hunter Gracchus" (German: "Der Jäger Gracchus") is a short story by Franz Kafka. The story presents a boat carrying the long-dead Hunter Gracchus as it arrives at a port. The Burgomaster of Riva enters the boat and inside he meets Gracchus, who gives him an account of his death while hunting, and explains that he is destined to wander aimlessly and eternally over the seas. An additional fragment presents an extended dialogue between Gracchus and an unnamed interviewer, presumably the same Burgomaster.

Written in the first half of 1917, the story was published posthumously in Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer (Berlin, 1931). The first English translation, by Willa and Edwin Muir, was published by Martin Secker in London in 1933. It also appeared in The Great Wall of China. Stories and Reflections (New York: Schocken Books, 1946).[1] The story and the fragment both appear in The Complete Stories.[2]

In a diary entry for April 6, 1917, Kafka describes a strange boat standing at port, which he is told belongs to the Hunter Gracchus.[3]

The story is paraphrased in, and its content is interwoven into, the novel Vertigo by W. G. Sebald, as well as in Hélène Cixous's Le Détrônement de la mort.


  1. The Great Wall of China: Stories and Reflections. Franz Kafka - 1946 - Schocken Books
  2. Kafka, Franz. The Complete Stories. New York: Schocken Books, 1995. p. 226-234.
  3. Kafka, Franz. Diaries 1910-1923. New York: Schocken Books, 1988. p. 373