Which of us would not have been happy under Alexander’s radiant gaze? But Diogenes frantically begged him to move out of the way of the sun. That tub was full of ghosts.
1883 - 1924
The novels and short stories of German-Jewish lawyer, Franz Kafka (1883-1924), continue to awaken literary debate, and provoke new and living interpretations for each generation who reads them. Kafka’s fame arose after his death, and his writing greatly influenced German literature.
A somewhat tormented soul, who wrestled with depression, social anxiety, suicide and a tyrannical father, was nonetheless, a writer who masterfully suspended the fantastical within reality (The Judgement), and the literal within the metaphor (The Metamorphosis).
His friends found him charming and humorous, and he had neat, boyish good looks. Nonetheless, his battle with tuberculosis, and a deep fear that people found him repulsive infected his romantic relationships, and contributed to a certain self-loathing.
His literature brings us commentary on divine grace and authentic living, man’s struggle to find security (In the Penal Colony, Amerika), overcoming isolation (The Castle) and finding one’s purpose (Description of a Struggle, The Great Wall of China).
And though his parents never did understand his need to record his “dreamlike inner state,” the rest of the world can appreciate how his works transcend meaning and interpretation, always letting the reader go further into the mind, the heart, the estrangement of the modern man.
Scratch your flesh raw between your toes, but you won’t find the answer.
Incidentally, it’s easy to write prescriptions, but difficult to come to an understanding with people.
One hears a great many things, true, but can gather nothing definite.
For when one is about to embark on some enterprise, it is precisely the books whose contents have nothing at all in common with the enterprise that are the most useful.
All the people who try to torment me, and who have now occupied the entire space around me, will quite gradually be thrust back by the beneficent passage of these days, without my having to help them even in the very least. And, as it will come about quite naturally, I can be weak and quiet and let everything happen to me, and yet everything must turn out well, through the sheer fact of the passing of days.
Calm – indeed the calmest – reflection might be better than the most confused decisions.
I write to close my eyes.
Rolling country, not yet quite mountainous, with woods and lakes, is what I like best.
The longer one hesitates before the door, the more estranged one becomes.