To read Kafka’s “Diaries” is not an easy thing, especially from the start where the repetitions of the same and the same take place. Maybe, it is because of Max Brod’s editing, maybe, of something else. Who knows?
As a whole, the impressions of his diaries are not bad: he lived a very good life, full of energy, travels, love for beauty and arts, including ladies.
His “tormented soul” was not the only one I know, so was leo Tolstoy’s, Fedor Dostoevsky’s and many other outstanding artists.
The imagery does not live in still waters and sleeps. Even at the cemetery and around and in the graves. By the way, that was Kafka’s favorite topic. In July 5, 1922 he wrote: “My writing has not bought off my death. I’ve been dying all my life, and now I’ll really die.”
“15 December, 1919. I simply do not believe the conclusions I have drawn from my present condition, which has been already lasted almost a year, my condition is too serious for that. Indeed, I do not even know whether I can say that it is not a new condition. My real opinion, however, is that this condition is new – I have had similar ones, but never one like this. It is as if I were made of stone, as if I were my own tombstone, there is no loophole for doubt or for faith, for love or repugnance, for courage or anxiety, in particular or in general, only a vague hope lives on, but no better than the inscription on tombstones. Almost every word I write jars against the next, I hear the consonants rub leadenly against each other and the vowels sing an accompaniment like Negroes in a ministrel show. My doubts stand in a circle around every word, I see them before I see the word, but what then! I do not see the word at all, I invent it. Of course, that wouldn’t be the greatest misfortune, only I ought to be able to invent words capable of blowing the odor of corpses in a direction other than straight into mine and the reader’s face. When I sit down at the desk I feel no better than someone who falls and breaks both legs in the middle of the traffic of the Place de l’Opera. All the carriages, despite their noise, press silently from all directions in all directions, but that man’s pain keeps better order than the police, it closes his eyes and empties the Place and the streets without carriages having to turn about. The great commotion hurts him, for he is really an obstruction to traffic, but the emptiness is no less sad, for it unshackles his real pain”.
This was translated from the native Kafka’s language German into the English by Joseph Kresh, and it was not an easy task, believe me, as I did the same : trying to translate it into the Russian which can be seen on the Russian page.
Here and there are scattered the photos of Kafka’s “Diaries” (front cover of the book), Franz’s portrait drawn by the painter, his hand writing, the Kafkas (his and his father-mother’s) tombstone and the bronze monument to Kafka in Prague.
Kafka, a citizen of the new Czech Republic and culturally an Austrian, wrote mainly for a small German audience. He died in 1924 before German intellectuals divided into right and left, one of the deep spiritual crisis. Kafka’s fiction belongs to this era. His novels and other unpublished works became to appear shortly after his death under the editorship of M. Brod, who diligently promoted the reputation of his late friend but also worked hard to establish as true his own image of Kafka as a saintly writer principally concerned with religious matters.
But Kafka was apolitical, everybody knows that.
Let’s read again from his “Diaries”:
“4 October, 1911. Towards evening, in the dark of my room on the sofa. Why does one take a rather long time to recognize a color, but then, after the understanding has reached the decisive turning-point, quickly become all the more convinced of the color. If the light from the ante-room and the kitchen shines on the glass door simultaneously from the outside, then greenish – or rather, not to detract from the definiteness of the impression – green light pours down almost the length of the panes. If the light in the ante-room is turned off and only the kitchen light remains, then the pane nearer the kitchen becomes deep blue, the other whitish blue, so whitish that all the drawings on the frosted glass (stylized poppies, tendrils, various rectangles, and leaves) dissolve.
Watch our photo expose “Kafka’s Dreams”:
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The lights are shadows thrown on the walls and the ceiling by the electric lights in the street and the bridge down below are distorted, partly spoiled, overlapping, and hard to follow. When they installed the electric arc-lamps down below and when they furnished this room, there was simply no housewifely consideration given to how my room would look from the sofa at this hour without any lights of its own.
The glare thrown on the ceiling by the tram passing down below moves whitely, wraith-like and with mechanical pauses along the one wall and ceiling, broken in the corner. The globe stands on the linen chest in the first, fresh, full reflection of the street lights, a greenishly clean light on top, has a highlight on its roundness and gives the impression that the glare is really too strong for it, although, the light passes over its smoothness and goes off leaving it brownish like a leather apple. The light from the ante-room throws a large patch of glare on the wall over the bed. This patch is bounded by a curved line beginning at the head of the bed, gives the illusion that the bed is pressed down, widens the dark bedposts, raises the ceiling over the bed.”
Kafka’s intellect was too corrosively skeptical, his natural cast of mind too ironic, his sense of belatedness too laming for him to invest any realistic hope in religious salvation.
Really, how Kafka could contribute to the world salvation if he could not rescue himself from himself at crucial time?
Watch the other photo show “Kafka’s Sketches”:
In my view, Kafka belongs to no one but himself. A writer is not the property of the state, and his true connoisseurs are his readers. Kafka flies past those nets of nationalism that would seek to bring down his flight. He belongs to the imagination of the world.
Watch video:Franz Kafka, Diaries, 1913.