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19 June 2011

Literature: Franz Kafka


First thing to say: Kafka rocks! I mean, really. Okay, he wouldn't win an award for his attractiveness, but his literary works are great.
Some of you may say now: "I've read 'Metamorphosis' in school and it was dull". I won't believe you ;) Books you read in school are nearly always dull. So let me introduce this fascinating character and his great works to you.

Franz Kafka was born in Prague on the third of July 1883. He lived together with his three sisters, his mum and his dad in a house right in the middle of Prague and belonged to an upper class. This upper class were about 10% of people in Czech Republic who had german as their mothertongue (don't ask me why, it's a fact). For me it's a lucky thing, so I can read his literature in the original laguage^^. However.
To skip a little bit of the uninteresting parts and come to the most important thing: His father was extremly strict and didn't really like his son. And why? Because he was different. For example Franz was a vegetarian and often ate fruits and nuts for meal and payed a lot of attention to chew it often enough (I think it was exactly thirty times). Once his father got mad and since then never ate with him again.
Particularly his father doesn't want his son to live his life the way he wants, but the way the father wants. Bad thing it is. He wanted to marry his son to Felice Bauer (an odd woman, I think, she doesn't even look good...) so he can live a "proper" life. Felice and Hermann (his fathers name) tried a lot to convince to the marriage, but it never worked out. Franz only had two other woman after this (and never managed to get married) of which the most sympathetic was Dora Diamant, a kindergarten teacher and about twenty years younger than him. They were a very nice couple and she took care of him while he was sick until his death.
I think the character of Kafka was a very nice one: He loved to take long walks, was vegetarian, writing was his obsession and he couldn't understand people. They were something really strange to him, he sometimes asked himself how they could bear the whole wheight of the world on their shoulders so easily. He was an academic but had a job as an insurance agent. Like his best friend Max Brod, who had a simliar destiny, he learned to live with it.
I don't want to bother you with any further details and if you want more, there is still wikipedia and a bunch of biographies ;) but there's a last thing I have to say about the person before I come to his works: Once, as Kafka took a walk with his girlfriend in a park, he met a little girl that was terribly crying. After asking her what's the matter, she replied she lost her beloved doll. Because Franz couldn't see the girl be sad about her dollie, he explained to her, that her toy just went on a journey and that she promised, she would write to her best friend and owner. The girl cheered up a little and after this Kafka had regular meetings with her in the park, giving her letters from her doll he wrote himself. He writes the girl shouldn't worry, tells about fascinating places and how her doll grows up. After a lot of letters the last one the girl received was about how the doll is a grown up now and she was really satisfied at least, because slowly she got used to the fact, here beloved toy has gone away.

Now a little about Kafkas works of literature. I think his best friend Max Brod did a good job in not following Kafkas last will about destroying all of his non published works (and there were a lot of them, because Kafka was barely known in his lifetime).
Kafka wrote a big bunch of short stories and a few novels. To be honest i did not read every short story, but I'll introduce the most known to you.

America
It's an unfinished novel about a young boy who was disowned by his familiy because he impregnated their housemaid (even if it wasn't his fault) and went to the "new world" America as a fireman. Just life in the new enviroment doesn't go that well for the guy.
Kurt Tucholsky said to this book: "This is the really rare case someone doesn't understand life and is right".
For me it was a really sad book to read. You can perfectly understand how that guy feels, this is particularly about beeing missunderstood.

Metamorphosis

Really common short novel. Without knowing it Gregor Samsa converts over night into some kind of insect. After a short time his familiy finds out about this and they and Gregor start dealing with it.
Gosh, this book was really mean. I felt sorry for that poor guy and found it really strange how he blocked out he has been transformed. Also I believe this story is really autobiographical.



A Country Doctor
It's a short story about a country doctor having a tough time getting to his patient in the middle of the night.
If you are interested: There is a really creepy short film about this story. Here is some information, if you're interested. The thing that creeps me most besides of the drawing style: Nobody's speaking.


The Trial
It's about Josef K. getting arested some morning without knowing why. Anyhow he can still go to work and walk around freely. The court and its employees are some very odd people who don't really seem like they ever had to do anything with law. He tries to find out why he's beeing accused, but somehow everything he does, does not seem to help.

The Castle

The Castle is an incomplete novel too. It´s about an agrimensor (a strange work) who arrives to a town committed for work, but then discovers that really there´s no work for him there. In the top of the town it´s the Castle, a place you can call in any way the “State” of the town, where nobody without influences there can arrive. Through all the history K the agrimensor tries to reach the Castle or the people of there for see what happens with him.

In many ways you can compare this novel with The Trial and exchange the Castle of the town for the Court of the Trial, and both histories are very similar too in many aspects. Maybe occurs the same with America. Like in most of the Kafka histories, really, in a good sense.. (written by Universal Joke, thanks for the info :))


These were only a few.If you want some further information visit wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Kafka

Another thing:
If you speak german, then take a look at this book, a wonderfull biography of Franz Kafka. I nearly cried as he died, even if it was obviously.

Please, tell me your opinion about this literature post.

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