This particular work never reappears, but many similar fragments have been reworked, with minor revisions, often spitting out over the course of several years. I messed around with a sketch of 6 times, but eventually gave up on it. Occasionally, there are first drafts of all his works, including The Trial, a story that Kafka completed overnight in his ecstasy.
Aside from these forays into fiction, the diary’s most impressive writing is clinically visual. Many of Kafka’s meticulous depictions of acquaintances, strangers, and urban tableaus are as brutally careful as Lucian Freud’s portraits. “An artless transition from the taut skin of my boss’s bald head to the delicate wrinkles on his forehead,” one reads. “Banknotes, an obvious and very easily imitated failure of nature, should not be made in such a way.” Squeeze the skin on your forehead and the base of your nose, as we believe.” Kafka writes about his lovers without emotion, but shows unnatural tenderness about the striking scenes around the city.
Kafka’s myth of being melancholic at heart does not prepare us for his love for him to head for the stairs. From this master of self-flagellation we expect only a litany of misery and sickness. And the diary contains an obligatory share of despair. Kafka takes delight in feigning an apparently incurable disease, and is undoubtedly dramatic about minor illnesses. When he has a headache, it’s as if “I have two little plates screwed into my temples.” When I can’t sleep, I feel like I’m laying my head in a ‘false hole’. He is highly sensitive to sound, later whining in a short article published in a magazine that his bedroom was “the headquarters of the noise in the entire apartment.” His letters say a lot about his phobia of rats. As his biographer, Reiner Stach, aptly put it, “Absolutely anything could go wrong with this man.”
Not all of Kafka’s complaints were petty. He certainly had reasons against the monotony of his tedious office routine. It is a punishment under the condition “as long as you can stand it. He was sure that his writing was the only thing the dusk did not reach. “When it became clear in my organism that writing was the most productive direction of my existence,” he confesses. First and foremost. I was wasted in all these directions. Yet, even here, in this anguished lamentation, he regards his writing as his “organism,” writhing within his guts, anemic and disjointed. not.
Even the most intense pain can coexist comfortably with a voracious desire to live. Not refuting the writer’s caricature as a recluse. If anything, Kafka appears in his diary as a surprisingly functional person, subject to the usual mood swings. Sometimes he denies the sun, but one day he was overjoyed for no apparent reason.
In a letter to Felice, Kafka fantasizes about retreating into a basement.
Yet the diary makes it clear that Kafka made no effort to live ascetic. He was busy attending plays and lectures, and in later years also became a new institution for cinema. Nor was he a fancy solitary recluse. If I love myself, I can love him even more. In notes from a trip to Paris taken with Brod in 1911, he wrote:
And Kafka was too dedicated Ravens Reformer Remains isolated in a basement with no light and no air. In his diary, he waxes with uncharacteristic sentimentality after a walk outside, “on the garden path the goddess of happiness wafts towards you.” In an August 1911 entry, he reports that he regrets spending less than writing his summer swimming. At swimming schools in Prague, Königssaal and Czernositz, I stopped being ashamed of my body. ”
Although he has not completely extinguished his distaste for his emaciated physique, he remains so relentlessly attentive to the trials of embodiment that it is hard to judge whether his physique disgusts him or pleases him. It’s hard. It’s as clear as Kafka’s Diary that hypochondria is a kind of twisted sensuality. He wonders how he can “endure” his future “with this body pulled out of the junk room,” but says it’s “gritty and cool and juicy to the touch like a leaf.” Even my ears are surprised. Even pain can be a delicacy: “The joy of imagining a knife twisted in the mind.”
Kafka’s fiction is full of human-like animals and humans who have fallen into animality. In “The Metamorphosis”, the hapless Gregor Samsa sees his old furniture as a reminder of his former humanity, even after being transformed into a giant insect that can no longer sit in a chair. In “Dog Investigation”, the canine narrator seeks to distinguish himself from other ravenous species by fasting. Diary Kafka resembles these characters, alternately suppressing and yielding to overwhelming appetites. Sometimes it’s a human who wants to be an animal, and sometimes it’s an animal that struggles to become a human. “There is almost always this yearning to pile up within yourself the fantasies of taking horrific risks with food if your stomach feels healthy,” he writes in Hunger.
He is equally enthusiastic about literature. . . this greed seems to come out of my stomach. ”
Perhaps that’s because Kafka often said his lines aloud or read them to friends. teeth. Afterwards, he reads Goethe’s text “as if he were running along the stress with his whole body.” Even abstraction takes on a fresh tangible quality. Kafka’s gift is as smart as injury. They squeezed my chest and inflamed my head. When he squanders his talents on reports and notes in his work, he looks at the results “with disgust and shame as if he were raw meat cut from himself.”
Clearly, writing was not an intellectual exercise for Kafka. It was a body trembling. Sometimes it was spawning: “Judgment” came out “like a true birth covered in filth and slime.” Sometimes it was a wound: “I dive into the novella, even if it cuts my face.” He likens slang to a weapon that can crush us, and argues that “books must be the axes of the frozen sea within us.” These metaphors blend beautifully, always going from one image to the next in force. “I am only literature and nothing else” can mean that life is subordinated to literature.
The biography plunges into Kafka’s art on a content level. “The Castle” and “The Trial” are filled with the kind of files and bureaucratic craziness he would encounter every day at the Accident Insurance Institute. His first novel, The Man Who Disappeared.
But life also bursts into literature at the level of formality, and even the words are acrobatic in Kafka’s Diaries. As Ross Benjamin puts it in his thoughtful preface to his new translation, his aim was to capture the extent to which the diary was “a laboratory for Kafka’s literary work,” thereby allowing the “writing-in-progress” author is to capture he succeeded. Everything in the diary slashes. From one draft to the next, characters squirm into new forms. Phrases are cut and put back together.
One of Kafka’s most harrowing tales, In the Penal Colony, envisions a device that engraves the text of a broken law into the skin of criminals. The image is brutal yet strangely comforting, a dream of perfection where there is no distance between the description and its subject. Victims suffer for hours, but eventually a “face of transformation” appears on each repentant face. Finally, the silent body transformed into language. The diary is the same as Kafka’s sinister device. They, too, serve to embody literature rather than deconstruct life. They are the intimate cuts of a writer who could only write by carving words into flesh. ♦