Tag Archives: Czech Literature

An Unwitting Education

My education has been so unwitting I can’t quite tell which of my thoughts come from me and which from my books, but that’s how I’ve stayed attuned to myself and the world around me for the past thirty-five years. … Continue reading

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Being and Becoming

People are always shouting they want to create a better future. It’s not true. The future is an apathetic void, of no interest to anyone. The past is full of life, eager to irritate us, provoke and insult us, tempt … Continue reading

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On Rectification

Kafka liked to have his watch an hour and a half fast. Felice kept setting it right. Nonetheless for five years they almost married. He made a list of arguments for and against marriage, including inability to bear the assault … Continue reading

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The Shaping of the Self

Yesterday I alluded to Foucault’s Self Writing [PDF: Technologies of the Self/Self Writing], one of a series of studies on “the arts of oneself” that draws heavily on Greco-Roman thought, particularly that of Seneca. The illustration above depicts Seneca’s suicide (his … Continue reading

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Kafka’s Diaries 1910-1923

Nursing a bout of influenza is exhausting, but comes with compensatory advantages: the so rare privilege of sitting silently and reading for hours, with the occasional offer of tea. I have been able to complete Kafka’s Diaries 1910-1923. That Kafka … Continue reading

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The Challenge of Education

Of necessity, we despatch our children into education. I wonder how many of us, remembering our own days at school and university, share Kafka’s reproach: […] I can prove at any time that my education tried to make another person … Continue reading

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Franz Kafka: A Biography by Max Brod

Dispense with objectivity and Max Brod’s biography Franz Kafka succeeds in reclaiming Kafka from a monotone reputation for despair and paranoia. What I emphasise, and what I believe distinguishes my exposition of Kafka from all the others-e.g. Schoeps, Vietta, and Stumpf-is the … Continue reading

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A Moment of Mastery

In The Castle Kafka writes of an uncommon moment of mastery: Memories of his home kept recurring and filled his mind. There, too, a church stood in the market-place, partly surrounded by an old graveyard which was again surrounded by … Continue reading

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Kafka’s Rejection

This lengthy but vivid excerpt from Kafka’s early diary is described by Gabriel Josipovici (with perhaps a touch of hyperbole) as one of the key moments in modern literature. The essays in Josipovici’s collection The Singer on the Shore just … Continue reading

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The Trial by Franz Kafka

The thought that there is anything fresh to be said of Franz Kafka’s The Trial is implausible. . . . . The secondary literature is cancerous. It multiplies daily in the academy, in belles lettres and literary journalism. It is parasitic … Continue reading

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