Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Blogger
IlanaSimons
Posts: 2,223
Registered: ‎10-20-2006
0 Kudos

Kafka: Discussing The Author

[ Edited ]
Kafka: Discussing The Author

This is a place for discussing Kafka.

Kafka is a special case in literature: His work is so thoroughly soaked with his own psychology that we almost always discuss the author when we discuss his work. Kafka had a famously fraught relationship with his father, which influenced a lot of what he wrote. Or: Vice versa. He wrote about authority so much, he couldn’t help but seeing his life through his own distinct lens. It could be said Kafka’s writing created his own circle of non-escape. If any of you are reading his letters or diaries, bring up any insights here. Or: If anyone wants to make biographical observations from the work, please do that here too.


Short Biography:
Kafka (1883-1924) was born into a middle-class Jewish family in Prague. They spoke German at home, the language Kafka also used to write his stories. He was the eldest of six children. His two brothers died before the age of two, and his three sisters would be killed in concentration camps in WWII.

Kafka grew up with the isolation of being a Jew in Prague. He had a Bar Mitzvah but was not traditionally observant. He got his Law degree in 1906, and then worked as a law clerk and for a few insurance companies. He was hardworking but emotionally indifferent about these day jobs, and spent his night writing in his bedroom. For a long time, he lived in his parents’ house, and he considered his father a repressive tyrant, a theme that drives many of his stories. With his friends Max Brod and Felix Weltsch, Kafka formed a reading group to encourage each other’s work.

Kafka twice proposed marriage to Felice Bauer and twice ran away from the commitment. He feared that a married life would keep him away from his real love, literature. Later he would develop relationships with Milena Jesenská and Dora Diamant, but he did not commit to a single partnership.

Dora Diamant, from an orthodox Jewish family, encouraged Kafka's interest in the Talmud. Beginning with an interest in Yiddish theatre, Kafka deepened his involvement with Judaism later in his life.

In 1917, he began to suffer the tuberculosis that would eventually kill him. Bad health had always haunted Kafka, in depression and anxiety and their related symptoms, migraines and insomnia. He was a vegetarian and tried to get healthy at a sanitarium near Vienna, but he died on June 3, 1924. Kafka was largely unpublished during his lifetime. He had asked Max Brod to burn his works, but Brod pushed for their publication instead. Kafka is buried in the New Jewish Cemetery in Prague-Žižkov.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 12-26-200612:26 PM




Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


Frequent Contributor
ELee
Posts: 418
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Kafka: Viewing The Author

some pictures of Kafka and others can be found at:

http://www.fortunecity.com/victorian/vermeer/287/pictures.htm
Blogger
IlanaSimons
Posts: 2,223
Registered: ‎10-20-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Kafka: Viewing The Author



ELee wrote:
some pictures of Kafka and others can be found at:

http://www.fortunecity.com/victorian/vermeer/287/pictures.htm




good photos. He has a little Charlie Chaplin in him in 1906, doesn't he?

His humor would be a good thing to discuss, as people read on.
David Foster Wallace wrote a great article on Kafka's humor, here:
http://www.ptwi.com/~bobkat/kafka.html

What I got out of this article is the idea that Kafka's humor revolves around making abstract notions concrete, which distorts and amplifies the issues.
I.e. I can think "I woke up this morning feeling inhuman"...but in Kafka, I really wake up as a bug.
or: I can think "people in power are annoyingly unresponsive"...then we get that truly personified in "Before the Law."
This effect works a little like Charlie Chaplin’s slapstick: things are made alarmingly physical, which makes them obvious or comic.



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


Contributor
howietam
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Kafka: Discussing The Author

I find Kafka's relationships with women interesting. He seems quite fearful of them, and fascinated at the same time. This is especially interesting since he seems so close to his sister (in the story). Perhaps he views her simply as a "person" and not a female??
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Kafka: Viewing The Author

Thanks E Lee - a great little photo album:smileyhappy: His mother and his sister were very beautiful - I wonder if that caused him any sort of an Oedipus complex? He appears to have had problems relating to women and he was afraid of his father. Perhaps Ilana could throw some light on the Freudian aspect of his character?




ELee wrote:
some pictures of Kafka and others can be found at:

http://www.fortunecity.com/victorian/vermeer/287/pictures.htm


Blogger
IlanaSimons
Posts: 2,223
Registered: ‎10-20-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Kafka: Viewing The Author



Choisya wrote:
Thanks E Lee - a great little photo album:smileyhappy: His mother and his sister were very beautiful - I wonder if that caused him any sort of an Oedipus complex? He appears to have had problems relating to women and he was afraid of his father. Perhaps Ilana could throw some light on the Freudian aspect of his character?




ELee wrote:
some pictures of Kafka and others can be found at:

http://www.fortunecity.com/victorian/vermeer/287/pictures.htm








Kafka read Freud and claimed to be less influenced by him than he actually was. The fact is that there might be no other writer who has more Freud coursing through him than Kafka. For a dose of this, read Kafka’s "Letter to My Father.” In there, you get sections like this one:

“…We were so different and in our difference so dangerous to each other that if anyone had tried to calculate in advance how I, the slowly developing child, and you, the full-grown man, would behave toward one another, he could have assumed that you would simply trample me underfoot so that nothing was left of me. …Perhaps something worse happened. …The effect you had on me was the effect you could not help having. …You should stop considering it some particular malice on my part that I succumbed to that effect.”

And yes: Kafka’s inability to marry is tied to his fear and alienation from parental authority. He asked his lover Felice to marry him twice, and ran away both times. In one of the letters he wrote to Felice, right about the time he was breaking off their engagement, he told her that he could never marry because he did not want to give in to _them_-—to those adults who sit around the dinner table so complacent with their authority. It would always be a war of the artist-child Kafka against the status-quo-professionalized adults.

I really think this is a major theme behind “The Judgment,” so I look forward to anyone’s input after they read that short story.



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Kafka: Viewing The Author

Thanks Ilana - I thought so. I read somewhere that when Kafka was dying of TB in 1924 he became unable to eat or drink during the last stages of his illness and may have starved to death:smileysad: Prophetic then that Metamorphosis has Gregor dying of starvation.




IlanaSimons wrote:


Choisya wrote:
Thanks E Lee - a great little photo album:smileyhappy: His mother and his sister were very beautiful - I wonder if that caused him any sort of an Oedipus complex? He appears to have had problems relating to women and he was afraid of his father. Perhaps Ilana could throw some light on the Freudian aspect of his character?




ELee wrote:
some pictures of Kafka and others can be found at:

http://www.fortunecity.com/victorian/vermeer/287/pictures.htm








Kafka read Freud and claimed to be less influenced by him than he actually was. The fact is that there might be no other writer who has more Freud coursing through him than Kafka. For a dose of this, read Kafka’s "Letter to My Father.” In there, you get sections like this one:

“…We were so different and in our difference so dangerous to each other that if anyone had tried to calculate in advance how I, the slowly developing child, and you, the full-grown man, would behave toward one another, he could have assumed that you would simply trample me underfoot so that nothing was left of me. …Perhaps something worse happened. …The effect you had on me was the effect you could not help having. …You should stop considering it some particular malice on my part that I succumbed to that effect.”

And yes: Kafka’s inability to marry is tied to his fear and alienation from parental authority. He asked his lover Felice to marry him twice, and ran away both times. In one of the letters he wrote to Felice, right about the time he was breaking off their engagement, he told her that he could never marry because he did not want to give in to _them_-—to those adults who sit around the dinner table so complacent with their authority. It would always be a war of the artist-child Kafka against the status-quo-professionalized adults.

I really think this is a major theme behind “The Judgment,” so I look forward to anyone’s input after they read that short story.


Blogger
IlanaSimons
Posts: 2,223
Registered: ‎10-20-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Kafka: Discussing The Author



bobthebuilder wrote:
did anyone know kafka was gay? Anyone i didnt know did u?




You might speculate about this, but it's not likely. He was engaged twice, and in love with multiple women through his life. He did have some great male friends, and he was deeply conflicted when it came to his sexuality, but there's no great evidence that he was gay.



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


Frequent Contributor
donyskiw
Posts: 578
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Kafka: Discussing The Author

I have this funny book called Kafka's Soup: A Complete History of World Literature in 14 Recipes by Mark Crick (2005, Harcourt, Inc., New York) that was sold to me by a lover of literature at a brick and morter BN near my home. One of the recipes is for "Quick Miso Soup a la Franz Kafka. You can see it's a real recipe buried in a story that sounds like it could have been written by Franz.

2 tablespoons fermented miso
5 oz. silken tofu
4-5 small mushrooms
A few leaves of dried wakame


K. recognized that if a man is not always on his guard this king of thing can happen. He was looking into the refrigerator and found it to be almost completely bare, apart from some mushrooms, which he began to slice. His guests sat waiting at the table and yet he appeared to have little to offer them. Whether he had invited them or whether they had arrived uninvited was not clear. If it were the first case he was angry with himself for failing to engage a cook for the evening so that he might command some authority at the table; for now his visitors were looking towards him as though he were a subordinate whose inefficiency was delaying their dinner. But in the second case they could hardly expect to be fed, arriving unexpectedly at such a time. The sound of a kettle boiling brought his attention back to the food and at the same time he noticed a jar of fermented miso and a block of silken tofu, perhaps left by his landlady. He placed the two spoonfuls of the miso into a saucepan and poured on four cups of hot water, shielding the process from the panel as he did so. He became angry with himself for thinking of the new arrivals as a panel; they had not announced their purpose in calling on him and as yet he did no know what position each of them held. Their manner suggested, perhaps, that they were higher officials but it was also quite possible that he was their superior and they were calling on him merely to create a good impession.

With shame K. realized that he had not offered his guests anything to drink, but when he looked up he saw that a bottle was open on the table and the judges were already enjoying his wine. He found it abominable that they had served themselves without permission, but he knew their impertinence was not without significance. K. decided to shame them for their rudeness. "How is the wine?" he called. But the ruse backfired. "It would be better with some food," they chorused. "But since you have not even granted us the courtesy of dressing for dinner we do not have high hopes." K. could scarcely believe it as he noticed with discomfort that he was, indeed, in shirt and drawers.

When the soup was simmering, K. cut the tofu into half-inch cubes and dropped it into the steaming pan with the mushrooms and wakame. Looking out of the window into the darkness he noticed that a girl was watching from the neighboring house. The girl's severe expression was not unattractive to K., but the thought that she was deriving some pleasure from his situation sent him into a fury and he struck the worktop with his fist. It occurred to him that she might in some way be attached to the interrogation commission or could influence his case, and he looked beseechingly towards her, but she had backed away now and he might already have thrown away any advantages that his situation bestowed upon him. In two minutes the soup was ready. K. poured it into bowls and served his visitors. One of the four chairs around the table had been removed and, not without discomfort, K. saw that the panel was making no effort to make room for him. He added a splash of soy sauce to each of the bowls while the elder of the three judges addressed the others as if K. were invisible. "He needs to rid himself of a great many illusions; it's possible he imagines that we are subordinates calling on him to win his approval."

K.'s feeling that he was an outsider at his own dinner party was not unfamiliar. He was sorry that he was not dressed in his gray suit: its elegant cut had caused a sensation among his friends, and it was of the utmost importance to create a good impression in these situations. It was essential for a man in his position not to appear surprised by events and, as the interrogations commission divided the contents of K's bowl between them, K. stood still and tried to collect himself, for he knew that great demands would be made upon him and the soup might yet influence the outcome of his case.

Denise
Users Online
Currently online: 4 members 683 guests
Recent signins:
Please welcome our newest community members: