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 fact that I consider that the positive side of him, his love of life, of the earth earthy, and his religion in the sense of a properly fulfilled life, is his decisive message, and not self-abnegation, turning his back on life, despair-the “tragic position.”

In this respect Brod succeeds, building his argument with numerous extracts from Kafka’s diaries and letters.

To have registered the negative and fearfully defective sides of nature without veiling them in any way, and yet at the same time to have seen continually from the depths of his heart the “World of Ideas,” in the Platonic sense-that was the distinguishing feature of Kafka’s life and his works, that was the thing that proclaimed itself to his friends, without a word being said about it, as a kind of revelation, peace, certainty, in the midst of the storm of suffering and uncertainty.

Come to Brod’s biography not seeking balanced critical interpretation but an elegiac and lyrical speculation about a friend who died too early. Turn to Stach’s definitive biography for a study with more robust critical priorities.

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