The Kafka Project

October 26, 2022
Ask… The Kafka Project


By Mark Harman

For Franz Kafka, Berlin was not so much the actual city from the Spree as their personal representation for much which he felt was lacking in Prague. Already in 1902, as a nineteen-year-old student, he had coined an often-quoted metaphor for Prague: "This little mommy has actually claws." That fiercely maternal, if jocosely ironic, image already recommends the impossibility of their previously quite breaking loose. And throughout their life he believed that Prague ended up being "very un-homelike, someplace of thoughts, of nostalgia, of pettiness, of shame, of seduction, for the misuse of power." Berlin, having said that, became a screen onto that he could project inaccessible longings and dreams of escape, and then he quickly integrated it in to the web of metaphors whereby he viewed his every experience.

While Kafka's frequent preoccupation with Berlin is unquestionably no secret, critics and biographers haven't very done justice towards the city's invest his internal life. Here i must explore the strain between his exuberant preliminary picture of Berlin plus the grim truth he encountered when he went to live truth be told there inside fall of 1923. I should also like to report on an ultimately useless yet perhaps not completely unproductive find lacking letters that Kafka published for somewhat woman in suburb of Steglitz, a search that we carried out privately while I became in Berlin after some duration ago writing a series of linked essays in regards to the furtive autobiography underlying each of his writings.

Even though some commentators trace Kafka's fascination with Berlin to their first interviewing Felice Bauer in the Brod household apartment in Prague in August 1912, he previously indeed went to the town earlier, in December 1910, after cutting quick a visit to Paris with Max Brod along with his bro. His initial, nearly giddy, response to the town blends exuberance, naïveté, and angst in a manner reminiscent of Karl Rossmann, the guileless hero of their very first novel, Der Verschollene (most widely known under Max Brod's deceptive subject Amerika but which I plan to phone Missing or Missing Person in a brand new translation that Im presently completing). Though Kafka had been consequently obligated to acknowledge the less rosy, more technical truth associated with the city, a strain of the near-euphoria about Berlin persisted towards end of their life.

In 1910 he writes in regards to the city's movie theater with all the enthusiasm of a culture-starved young man from provinces. Uncharacteristically, he's in such a feeling that "he cannot quite stop laughing, " many thanks partly to Berlin, partially to comedies by Molière and Shakespeare at Kammerspiele. he additionally attends a performance of Hamlet, featuring the famous silent-movie actor Alfred Bassermann. Like many diffident intellectuals before and after him, Kafka identifies with Hamlet, indeed to such an extent he has to look away from the stage to restore their composure. Much the same takes place with regards to Berlin. So soaked up is he inside the internal musings that he hardly perceives the actual town: "I'm simply hearing in on myself." This inattentiveness to your metropolitan bustle changes whenever he finds a nook in which he, the "foreigner, " can feel yourself, as, as an example, in a vegetarian restaurant where he rhapsodizes concerning the semolina pudding, raspberry syrup, lettuce with cream, gooseberry wine, and strawberry-leaf tea.

Through the entire voluminous communication together with his fiancée, Felice Bauer, from 1912 to 1917, he keeps trying to imagine in extraordinary information this lady everyday life in a partly genuine, partly imaginary Berlin. And also this preoccupation with Berlin stays even though his relationship with Felice wanes. In july 1914, soon after the dissolution of the first wedding at a resort known as the Askanischer Hof nearby the Anhalter railroad section, he states in a letter to their parents that their life in Prague can lead to "nothing great" and that he could ben't "finished with Berlin." he declares which he will resign from their task, keep Prague, and eke on an income for just two years on their savings, some 5, 000 crowns.

Unfortuitously, the First World War smashed down several days after he revealed those objectives to his parents, in which he believed obliged to abandon his programs. As he and Felice reestablished their particular relationship after a promising rendezvous in Marienbad in july 1916, they made a decision to stay elsewhere: this time around the concept was to put up their household perhaps not in Prague in a suburb of Berlin. The following 12 months another fateful input put an end to this project-coming this time never as a world-historical thunderclap but as a health care provider's diagnosis of TB.

After the dissolution of his 2nd wedding to Felice in 1917, he became even keener on leaving Prague. Although often too absorbed in the private battles and dream life to pay much focus on governmental improvements, he could not help getting conscious of the increasing xenophobia and anti-Semitism. In November 1920, in wake of anti-Semitic riots in Prague, he muses to Milena Jesenská: "actually it the very best program to leave a spot in which you're so disliked?" Given the personal myth that Kafka had built-up over time about Berlin, its barely astonishing that he must have considered going indeed there. he hoped your city would inoculate him against just what he regarded as the blight of Prague, for, as he himself put it, "Berlin is the antidote to Prague."

These 12 months he achieved the "Napoleonic" task of finally moving to Berlin. Despite the fact that he initially believed he'd stay just for a few days, he nonetheless compared their impulsive move in September 1923 with Napoleon's launching of their army promotion against Russia: "a foolhardiness whoever parallel you'll only find by leafing straight back through pages of history, say to Napoleon's march to Russia." Before triggering regarding the short train trip from Prague to Berlin he had to put down an inner rebellion: "an attack by all the concerns that I have, with no military in world record can be huge as them." Though some critics have dismissed such comparisons with momentous activities in globe history as ironic hyperbole if not ridiculous exaggeration, when we desire to comprehend Berlin's symbolic significance for Kafka, we have to review such seemingly overblown analogies with empathy and imagination. Unlike Napoleon, Kafka seems to have realized that their expedition could not end really. Without a doubt, his very chosen Napoleon's foredoomed Russian campaign as an analogy...

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Kafka- The Judgment Movie trailer
Kafka- The Judgment Movie trailer
The Kafka House Project Team
The Kafka House Project Team
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