Conversations with Kafka (Second Edition) (New Directions Paperbook)

Conversations with Kafka (Second Edition) (New Directions Paperbook)

Gustav Janouch

Language: English

Pages: 228

ISBN: 081121950X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A literary gem – a portrait from life of Franz Kafka – now with an ardent preface by Francine Prose, avowed “fan of Janouch’s odd and beautiful book.”

Gustav Janouch met Franz Kafka, the celebrated author of The Metamorphosis, as a seventeen-year-old fledgling poet. As Francine Prose notes in her wonderful preface, “they fell into the habit of taking long strolls through the city, strolls on which Kafka seems to have said many amazing, incisive, literary, and per- things to his companion and interlocutor, the teenage Boswell of Prague. Crossing a windswept square, apropos of something or other, Kafka tells Janouch, ‘Life is infinitely great and profound as the immensity of the stars above us. One can only look at it through the narrow keyhole of one’s personal experience. But through it one perceives more than one can see. So above all one must keep the keyhole clean.’”

They talk about writing (Kafka’s own, but also that of his favorite writers: Poe, Kleist, and Rimbaud, who “transforms vowels into colors”) as well as technology, film, crime, Darwinism, Chinese philosophy, carpentry, insomnia, street fights, Hindu scripture, art, suicide, and prayer. “Prayer,” Kafka notes, brings “its infinite radiance to bed in the frail little cradle of one’s own existence.”


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The Hiding Place

Me and My Brothers: The Final Explosive Revelations















was a cold autumn day, swept by rain and wind. Kafka said to me on the steps that he could not talk in the open air in such weather. ‘That doesn’t matter,’ I said. ‘We shall understand each other all the same.’ Nevertheless as we emerged from the entrance of the Workmen’s Accident Insurance Institution, Kafka stooped, shook himself vigorously, crossed himself with a great Roman cross, and for me all understanding ceased. Kafka smiled at my astonished face, went back into the building, and

else. He walks by himself. He is deliberately and by his own choice a solitary. In this respect, he is openly militant.’ A few days later, a small incident occurred in Kafka’s office which confirmed my father’s words. A long column of spick and span soldiers, with flags waving and blaring brass band, was marching past the Accident Insurance Institution. Kafka, my father and I were standing at the open window. My father photographed the march past. He mounted his camera in the most varied

I’ cried my father, waving his arms excitedly. ‘There cannot be another war.’ ‘Why not?’ said Kafka tonelessly, looking my father straight in the eye. ‘You’re only expressing a wish. Or can you say with complete conviction that this war was the last war?’ My father was silent. I could see how his eyelids twitched. Kafka sat down, locked his bony fingers together on his desk, and took a deep breath. ‘No, I cannot say that,’ my father said at last. ‘You’re right. It is only a wish.’ ‘Such a

luck will end somewhere in some abandoned corner suffocating from his own fear and egotism.’ * The young F.W. committed suicide because of an unhappy love affair. We discussed the case. Franz Kafka said during our conversation: ‘What is love? After all, it is quite simple. Love is everything which enhances, widens, and enriches our life. In its heights and in its depths. Love has as few problems as a motor-car. The only problems are the driver, the passengers, and the road.’ * I told him

published. I gave Max Brod the right to make any necessary changes in the book. My trust in him was dealt a shattering blow by the publication of the book, the contract for which I had not seen and the changes in which had not been shown to me. For in the published work a large part of the original text was missing, including a few passages to which I attached particular importance, because they revealed the hidden rebelliousness of the dream-intoxicated author of The Metamorphosis and In the

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