If you haven't read Nathaniel Hawthorne's Wakefield yet, this is an invitation to do so. For Borges, it is one of the best stories in world literature. In any case,, it is one of the strangest and most disturbing, and in it, Hawthorne shows himself as a precursor to Kafka.
The story is one of terrifying simplicity: a middle-aged man decides one day to disappear from his home on the pretext of a business trip. What he does, in reality, is go and live in an apartment a few streets beyond his house. What does he do? Nothing, he spies on his house and his wife. Why does he do it? At first it seems like a joke destined to last a week, but that lasts for 20 years, turning his wife into a fake widow. Why? The answer must be given by the reader...
Kafka would never have allowed him to return; Hawthorne, yes, even though we never know why. Impressive. Short Stories: Wakefield by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Full online text of Wakefield by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Other short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne also available along with many others by classic and contemporary authors.