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Kafka

May 4, 2022

In a letter to his long-suffering fiancée Felice Bauer he declared: 

This was a constant theme of his mature years, and one that he expanded on in a highly significant diary entry from August 1916:

Franz Kafka met Felice Bauer in August 1912, at the home of his friend Max Brod. Energetic, down-to-earth, and life-affirming, the twenty-five-year-old secretary was everything Kafka was not, and he was instantly smitten.

Kafka was living in Prague and Felice in Berlin. The foundation of the distant love affair was a courtship of romantic epistolary, passionate, self-deprecating, and anxious letters sent almost daily, sometimes even two or three times a day. Soon after their engagement was announced in 1914, Kafka began to worry that marriage would interfere with his writing and his need for solitude.

The more than five hundred letters Kafka wrote to Felice–through their breakup, a second engagement in 1917, and their final parting in the fall of that year, when Kafka began to feel the effects of the tuberculosis that would eventually claim his life–reveal the full measure of his inner turmoil as he tried, in vain, to balance his desire for human connection with what he felt were the solitary demands of his craft. – Goodreads

James Joyce

Kafka is not the first writer, nor will he be the last, to figure himself as a martyr to his art—think of Flaubert, think of Joyce—but he is remarkable for the single-mindedness with which he conceived of his role. – John Banville

Franz Kafka suffered because of his family, his work and his writing, but some of his most acute anxieties arose over women. Almost every relationship caused him anguish. Each attempt to form a secure attachment proved as intense as it was destructive.

Milena Jesenska is known as “Kafka’s friend”, Kafka’s love, the woman who received his letters from which we learn a lot about him. However, Milena Jesenska was an excellent journalist, original writer, exceptional translator and intellectual who was actively dedicated to the great and painful wounds of her time.

The tortuous “struggle” for Felice Bauer, ended in failure, as did his wooing of the Czech writer Milena Jesenska.

Young rebel: Dora Diamant met Kafka after running away from home

The exception to this tragic pattern was Dora Diamant, the only woman with whom he enjoyed more than momentary contentment. An emancipated Jewess like Felice, but blessed with an Eastern European temperament like Milena, Dora combined traits that Kafka had previously encountered only in separate-women. Passionate but playful, enlightened but religious, independent but committed, she was in some ways a perfect match.

Dora was born to an orthodox Jewish family at Pabianice near Lodz, central Poland in 1898. She imbibed the traditional Chasidic lore from her father, Herschel – a true “diamond”, according to the local Wonder Rabbi.

DORA DIAMANT ran away from home, learned German, trained as a kindergarten teacher and worked among schoolchildren for the Berlin Jewish People’s Home. In this role, while helping at a holiday camp for refugee children at Muritz on the Baltic, she met Kafka in the summer of 1923.

Yet, with the irony that, as he noted, was typical of Kafka’s existence, by the time they met it was already too late. He had less than a year to live.

Kathi Diamant is the Director of the Kafka Project at San Diego State University. For over fifteen years she has been immersed in the story of Dora Diamant, retracing Dora’s steps in Europe, discovering neglected archives and lost papers, and conducting interviews with every known living person who knew her.

Hitherto relatively little has been written about Dora as a person, and in this, the first biography, Kafka’s Last Love, Dora’s namesake Kathi Diamant aims to set the record right. It is a remarkable tale, which crisscrosses Europe from Poland to Germany and from Austria to Russia, ending in England, where Dora spent her final years.

Dora escaped the purges, possibly leaving Russia as a spy, and eventually reached England, where she was interned on the Isle of Wight. She later settled in the East End before moving to West Hampstead, plying various trades but chiefly devoting herself to Yiddish culture – and to Kafka’s memory.

In telling her extraordinary tale, Kathi Diamant has written a clear and absorbing book, which provides a fitting monument to a remarkable woman. – Jeremy Adler.

12 Comments
  1. I loved this ✨👌😄. it’s excellent writing and you did a lovely job with the presentation ✍️😘☺️

    • Thank you, you right and thoroughly enjoyed the research. I’m so glad you Troy, enjoyed the read 📚 ☺ 😘

      • Hahaha awww you are welcome sweetheart☺️😘💕. This story was very well put together and I could tell you put alot of time and effort into the research, it is extremely insightful 💯💯🙏✨✌️☺️😄

      • Yes I did. It was most enjoyable. You are most welcome my darling friend. So much played through my mind, particularly the enormous sacrifices that authors make. Writing is truly a life’s calling. Insightful indeed😘🙏🏼😊

      • 💓😂😘 I can tell there were so much thoughts flowing through your precious mind hahaha 🙌👏🤟😍😍, and it’s sweet to see that you were able to get out your thoughts on the canvas on this particular matter as well as many of the recent ones you blessed us with 🤗🤗😘😘

      • I’m so happy you could feel my innermost in this presenration, of course I am absolutely delighted that it made an impression. 😘🙏🏼😊♥

      • Absolutely, your efforts and diligence that you poured into creating this wonderful presentation is undeniable and is to be admired my friend and I very happy that you are delighted 😘😘🤟💕

      • Thank you so much my dear darling💕😘

      • Ypu are welocme ☺️💯. It was well deserved 😂💓🌹

      • 😍🤩💕

  2. When I was a little girl I read Kafka’s “Quaderni in octavo”, and there were also the letters to his father, very sad. I think I was the only one who started with that book. Then of course I read his other literary works. I don’t know Kafka’s love life, for me he was just a friend of my adolescence (as were Hermann hesse, thomas Mann, virginia woolf, … I only had them as real friends) and now I wonder: why not have they ever made a movie about him and his life? It is very strange, are some writers not loved by the cinema? I can’t understand, it would be nice to see these romantic relationships in a movie about him.

    • That is a very interesting observation and question. I didn’t even think like that, why wouldnt they make a movie of such a disciplined mind. He was a lawyer by profession, no wonder he could tease with the fantastical.
      Imagine, I wonder who would take up the challenge, or rather who really can. It will make a riveting romantic movie. Kafka is a canon on his own. There is so much to read, talk and write about. You should maybe give me a short review of of Quardeni in octavo…
      I’ve stayed a long time with Pessosa..
      You had great writers as your friends when you were young. One can feel this in your writings…
      Thank you for reading
      This response was delayed by workman who have come to check my roof.
      Oh an interesting fact
      Kafka was so crazy he destroyed 90 % of his work.
      Can you imagine?

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