my stupid obsession with Franz Kafka
"Why Kafka?" you may be wondering. I'm also wondering. We should ask my subconcious*.
I didn't know jack shit about him before reading the Metamorphosis (a book I loved but I'm not sure I Get it even now how do you even love something you don't get lol*). It's the confusion his short stories made me feel that lead to trying to understand who he was, I had zero context for anything so I desperatly looked for it. There was something that made me go "!!!" for him*, that's why I cared, and why I read The Trial instead of giving up his work (which I also loved but again I don't think I really Get it)
But also... I don't know how to explain this. There's this idea of him that one absorbs trought "popular culture"(lacking a better word) of a sad man living a wretched life and that's it, that's all there was to him. It often happens with historical figures that a "stereotypical" verision of them is the most well-known, which I think is both inevitable and sad. It dehumanizes them, and this time, for whatever reason*, I wanted to go further. I know it's impossible to Truly tm know him, I'm no Max Brod! (his BFF), I just want more pieces of the puzzle.
Anyway uhh click around for some stuff about him disclaimer: I'm not a scholar, just an idiot with a website.
*I guess it's because I could tell he was a bit messed up in the head, like me!
«franz is both our poor little meow meow and a little horny bastard»b. reads Kafka's diaries
- tumblr anon
Don't know were to put these sorry
«He was coming to see me one afternoon- I was still living with my parents then- and his coming in woke up my father. Instead of apologizing, he said, in an indescribably gentle way, raising a hand as if to calm him and walking softly on tiptoe through the room, "Please look on me as a dream"» (Franz Kafka, a biography)
«Talking about his headaches, a frightful tension in the temples, he said:"It's the sort of feeling a pane of glass must have in the spot where it cracks."» (Franz Kafka, a biography)
Kavka, pronounced and colloquially written as kafka, is jackdaw in czech (guess how you say it in italian :) ). Super cool! But his father used a jackdaw as his business logo, which is less cool
A bad peach
(July 27, 1914) «Ate rice à la Trautmannsdorf and a peach. A man drinking wine watched my attempts to cut the unripe little peach with my knife. I couldn’t. Stricken with shame under the old man’s eyes, I let the peach go completely and ten times leafed through Die Fliegenden Blätter. I waited to see if he wouldn’t at last turn away. Finally I collected all my strength and in defiance of him bit into the completely juiceless and expensive peach.»
"franz kafka's profound neuroticism really does give me life. every time i do something stupid i just think about how franz kafka was stupider than me" - tumblr user a-bell-to-rie-and-die
"I like to imagine people preparing to fight WWI in Austria Hungry, people reeling from the archduke's murder, and the ticking clock on if the country will attack Serbia and Kafka is just there having an embarassing peach incident and its all he could think of." - tumbrl user millyblank
"Calm down Kafka you have social anxiety" - tumblr user tuvanshaman
You have made me unhappy.
I bought your Metamorphosis and gave it to my cousin. But she doesn’t know how to make sense of the story.
My cousin gave it to her mother, but she can’t find an explanation either.
Her mother gave the book to my other cousin and she doesn’t have an explanation either.
Now they’ve written to me. I’m supposed to explain the story to them. Because I’m the Doctor in the family. But I’m at a loss.
Sir! I spent months in the trenches slugging it out with the Russians and didn’t bat an eyelash. But if my reputation with my cousins went to the devil, I couldn’t bear it.
Only you can help me. You must; because you’re the one who got me into this mess. So please tell me what my cousin is supposed to think when she reads the Metamorphosis.
Most sincerely and respectfully yours,
Dr. Siegfried Wolff»
This is a real letter he recieved, we don't know if he ever answered or not. I feel you Dr. Wolff
Our Office Baby
"I hate my job, it makes me miserale *is the best employee they've ever had*"
- Franz Kafka, probably
«Franz Kafka, so the gentleman [one of the head officials] told me, was popular with everyone; he hadn't a single enemy. His devotion to duty was exemplary; his work was very highly thought of. The gentleman emphasized that Franz Kafka attacked every question from the opposite end of that from which everyone else generally did. [...] Another thing he emphasized was a certian naïveté in Kafka's make-up. He was "our office baby." He told me a story that is very characteristic of Kafka. "One day he came into my office just as I was eating a slice of bread and butter. "How can you swallow that fat?" he said. "A lemon is the best food.""» (Franz Kafka, a biography)
«His social conscience was greatly stirred when he saw workers crippled through neglet of safety precautions. "How modest these men are," he once said to me, opening his eyes wide "They come to us and beg. Instead of storming the institute and smashing it to little pieces, they come and beg."» (Franz Kafka, a biography)
more to come hopefully
Max Brod gushes about his BFF
more like "Max Brod is still mourning his friend years later because his death devastated him that much" but it was too sad
«Unlike myself, Kafka had a closed nature and did not open up his soul to anyone, not even to me. I knew very well that he sometimes kept important things to himself.» (Streitbares Leben)
«I have experienced over and over again that admirers of Kafka who know him only from his books have a completely false picture of him. They think he must have made a sad, even desperate impression in company too. The opposite is the case. One felt well when one was with him. The richness of his thoughts, which he generally uttered in a cheerful tone, made him, to put it on the lowst level, one of the most amusing of men I ever met, in spite of his shyness, in spite of his quietness. He talked very little; when there were a lot of people he often didn't speak for hours on end. But when he did say something, everybody had to listen immediately, because it was always something full of meat, somethung that hit the nail on the head.
And in an intimate conversation his tounge sometimes ran away with itself in the most astounding manner. He could be enthusiastic and carried away. There was no end to our joking and laughing- he liked a good, hearty laugh, and knew how to make his friends laugh too. More than that, if one where in a thight corner, one could unhesitatingly rely on his knowledge of the world, his tact, his advice, which hardly ever failed to be right. He was a wonderfully helpful friend» (Franz Kafka, a biography)
«In him there was a rare mixture of hopelessness and constuctive urge which in his case did not cancel each other out but rose to endlessly complicated visions.»(Franz Kafka, a biography)
«He had an unusual aura of power around him, such as I have never met anywhere else, even when I met very important, famous men. I have often tried to analyze this peculiarity, after Kafka's death that is, because while he was alive it made itself felt in a way so naturally and so completeely taken for granted, that the idea of thinking about it never struck one. Perhaps the best way to express this remarkable, extremely personal characteristic is this; the unintermittent compactness of his ideas could not endure a gap, he never spoke a meaningless word. Everything that came from him, came in a way that became less and less forced as the years went on, a precious expression of his quite special way of looking at things- patient, life-loving, ironically considerate towards the follies of the word, and therefore full of sad humor, but never forgetful of the real kernel, "The Indestructible," and so always far from being blasé or cynical.» (Franz Kafka, a biography)
There's also (at least) one interwiev with him on the subject, search "Max Brod on Franz Kafka interview" or click here (Youtube)
more to come?
art and memes
check out the animated short Franz Kafka by Piotr Dumala!(NSFW)
Max Brod and Franz Kafka try to sketch Goethe's house (emphasis on try)x (wish I knew where it's from!)
some odd postcards from the Czech Republic x y and some cute ones x (anyone got a source that isn't tumblr pretty please)
He was Funny
What? Mr. Doom and Gloom had a sense of humor??
«There was no end to our joking and laughing- he liked a good, hearty laugh, and knew how to make his friends laugh too.»
- Max Brod (Franz Kafka a Biography)
«Kafka’s unique brand of humor, which was bound up with bitterness and dryness, stayed with him until his final hour. When that time came, the doctor who treated him wanted to open the door. But the doctor didn’t want the patient to think he was leaving him alone, so he stood up, saying: “I’m not leaving.” “But I am,” Kafka answered, and breathed his last.»
- Georg Langer (taken from a third party and recounted imprecisely. But it's on brand)(Is that Kafka? 99 finds)
«Uncle Franz Talks to Himself.
Isn’t it a shame to give such a pretty book to Gerti for her birthday? No, because first of all she’s an outstanding girl and second sometime she’ll forget the book here and then you can take it back»
- Kafka’s dedication for Gerti Hermann, his little niece (Is that Kafka? 99 finds)
«In gratitude for the pretty book that I received thanks to your kind forgetfulness, I am taking the liberty of presenting you with this book, perhaps even prettier, which you will surely find the occasion to leave in an appropriate hotel nightstand when the time comes. May you, dear lady, continue to spread joy in this way among us poor chambermaids.
Anna from the Schützenhaus Karlsbad 19.II 19»
- a dedication he wrote, we're not sure to whom.(Is that Kafka? 99 finds)
Also, I wish I remembered where I read this, once he read to his friends the first chapter of The Trial and they were all laughing so much