FRANZ KAFKA – “DIARIES 1910-1923″ (1948)
For anyone interested in and familiar with the works of Kafka these diaries will present an intriguing backdrop to this most enigmatic of twentieth-century writers.
While most people might confine their personal journal entries to the mundane and unambiguous, those of Kafka are as oddly disquieting and peculiar as his fiction, and therein lies their appeal.
An easy read this is most definitely not: I found myself wanting to give up after ten pages or so, as the fragmentary nature of Kafka‘s observations and thoughts, their obscurity and above all, the convoluted way in which they are made are off-putting in the extreme.
However, with perseverance one becomes accustomed to the style, and the book soon reveals itself to be a fascinating window into Jewish intellectual life in the Prague of the early twentieth century as well as, of course, an insight into the ruthless self-criticism and constant doubt of the author.
Fact is sometimes nearly indistinguishable from fiction, as Dr.K‘s dry observations on people encountered randomly on the streets, descriptions of members of the Prague literati and tortured ruminations on his doomed relationships with women and concerns over his health blend seamlessly into sketches of never to be completed stories and early versions of familiar tales.
Toward the end of this lengthy volume, Kafka‘s deteriorating physical condition lend a depressive air to the entries which is hard to get through, although mercifully the book ends with a selection of travel diaries from happier times which serve to lighten the mood.
A must for all Kafka enthusiasts, this volume deserves to counted among his major works, although one can’t quite shake the feeling throughout that one really has no right to be reading what Kafka clearly did not intend for public consumption.
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