Am 3. Juli wird Franz Kafka in Prag geboren. Er ist das erste Kind von Hermann Kafka (1852-1931) und seiner Frau Julie, geb. Löwy (1856-1934). Die jüdischen Eltern führen ein Geschäft mit Galanteriewaren (Accessoires, feine Wäsche etc.). In der Familie wird überwiegend deutsch gesprochen, mit Bediensteten aber auch tschechisch.
Geburt zweier Brüder, die schon als Kleinkinder sterben.
Geburt der Schwestern Gabriele (Elli), Valerie (Valli) und Ottilie (Ottla).
Besuch der Deutschen Volks- und Bürgerschule.
Besuch des Altstädter Deutschen Gymnasiums. Abitur.
Beginn des Jura-Studiums an der Prager Deutschen Universität.
Oktober: Erste Begegnung mit Max Brod. Beginn der lebenslangen Freundschaft.
Beginn der Arbeit an der 1. Fassung von Beschreibung eines Kampfes. Erste Begegnung mit Oskar Baum.
Oktober: Beginn des einjährigen Rechtspraktikums am Landes- und am Strafgericht.
Beginn der Arbeit an der 1. Fassung von Hochzeitsvorbereitungen auf dem Lande.
August: Ferien beim Siegfried Löwy in Triesch (Mähren), einem Bruder von Julie Kafka. Begegnung mit Hedwig Weiler.
Oktober: Anstellung als Hilfskraft bei der Versicherungsgesellschaft ›Assicurazioni Generali‹.
März: Erste Veröffentlichung: kleine Prosastücke unter dem Titel Betrachtung in der Zeitschrift ›Hyperion‹.
30. Juli: Eintritt in die halbstaatliche ›Arbeiter-Unfall-Versicherungs-Anstalt für das Königreich Böhmen in Prag‹.
Beginn der erhaltenen Tagebucheintragungen. Erste Begegnung mit Franz Werfel.
September: Reise mit Max Brod und dessen Bruder Otto nach Norditalien. Ausflug zu einem Flugmeeting, das Kafka in seinem Text Die Aeroplane in Brescia beschreibt. Herbst: Arbeit an der 2. Fassung von Beschreibung eines Kampfes.
Oktober: Reise mit Otto und Max Brod nach Paris.
August/September: Reise mit Max Brod in die Schweiz, nach Norditalien und Paris. Danach im Sanatorium Erlenbach bei Zürich.
Oktober: Bekanntschaft mit einer ostjüdischen Theatertruppe, die Kafka stark beeindruckt. Besuch zahlreicher Vorstellungen in jiddischer Sprache. Freundschaft mit dem Schauspieler Jizchak Löwy. Kafka und sein Schwager Karl Hermann gründen die ›Erste Prager Asbest-Fabrik‹.
Arbeit an der 1. Fassung des Romans Der Verschollene, die Kafka später vernichtet.
Juni/Juli: Reise mit Max Brod nach Leipzig und Weimar. Begegnung mit den Verlegern Kurt Wolff und Ernst Rowohlt, die Kafka zur Einsendung eines Manuskripts auffordern. Aufenthalt im Naturheilsanatorium ›Jungborn‹ bei Stapelburg im Harz.
August: Erste Begegnung mit Felice Bauer.
September: Beginn des intensiven Briefwechsels mit Felice Bauer. Das Urteil entsteht. Tägliche Arbeit an der 2. Fassung von Der Verschollene.
Dezember: Die Verwandlung entsteht. Der Verleger Kurt Wolff veröffentlicht die Kurzprosa Betrachtung als Buch.
Januar: Abbruch der Arbeit an Der Verschollene.
März: In Berlin erstes Wiedersehen mit Felice Bauer.
Mai: Der Heizer (das 1. Kapitel von Der Verschollene) erscheint im Kurt Wolff Verlag.
Juni: Das Urteil erscheint im Jahrbuch Arkadia (hrsg. von Max Brod). Beginn der Freundschaft mit dem Schriftsteller Ernst Weiß.
September/Oktober: Reise allein nach Wien, Venedig, Gardasee. Sanatorium Dr. von Hartungen in Riva.
Oktober: Erste Zusammenkunft mit Grete Bloch, die zwischen Kafka und Felice Bauer vermitteln will. Beginn eines intensiven Briefwechsels mit ihr.
1. Juni: Verlobung mit Felice Bauer.
12. Juli: Bei einer von Kafka als »Gerichtshof« empfundenen Auseinandersetzung in Berlin wird die Verlobung aufgelöst. Reise über Lübeck nach Marielyst (Dänemark).
28. Juli: Österreich-Ungarn erklärt Serbien den Krieg (Beginn des Ersten Weltkriegs).
August: Beginn der Arbeit am Roman Der Process.
Oktober: In der Strafkolonie entsteht.
Dezember: Das Fragment Der Dorfschullehrer entsteht.
Januar: Kafka gibt die Arbeit an Der Process auf. Erneute Annäherung an Felice Bauer.
April: Reise nach Ungarn.
Juli: In einem Sanatorium in Rumburg (Rumburk) in Nordböhmen.
Oktober: Die Verwandlung erscheint bei Kurt Wolff. Carl Sternheim gibt die Preissumme des ihm verliehenen Fontane-Preises an Kafka weiter.
Juni: Kafka wird (gegen seinen Willen) aus beruflichen Gründen vom Militärdienst freigestellt.
Juli: In Marienbad erster und einziger gemeinsamer Urlaub mit Felice Bauer. Neuerlicher Entschluss zur Heirat.
November: Kafka liest in München In der Strafkolonie (einzige Lesung außerhalb Prags). Er beginnt, ein Häuschen in der Alchimistengasse auf dem Hradschin zum Schreiben zu nutzen. Im folgenden Winter entstehen dort zahlreiche kürzere Erzählungen und Fragmente, darunter Ein Landarzt, Schakale und Araber, Beim Bau der chinesischen Mauer und Auf der Galerie.
April: Ein Bericht für die Akademie entsteht.
Sommer: Kafka beginnt, Hebräisch zu lernen.
10. August: Lungenblutsturz. September: Kafka bittet wegen der diagnostizierten Tuberkulose um Pensionierung, was jedoch abgelehnt wird. Er übersiedelt zu seiner Schwester Ottla, die im nordböhmischen Zürau (Siřem) einen kleinen Hof bewirtschaftet.
Oktober: Kafka beginnt, aphorismenartige Texte zu schreiben.
Ende Dezember: Endgültige Trennung von Felice Bauer.
Mai: Ende der Beurlaubung.
Oktober: Sturz der österreichisch-ungarischen Monarchie. Proklamation der Tschechoslowakei als Republik. Die Amtssprache in Prag, auch in Kafkas Versicherungsanstalt, ist fortan Tschechisch. Kafka erkrankt an der Spanischen Grippe.
Ende November: Kafka fährt nach Schelesen (Želizy) nördlich von Prag, wo er (mit Unterbrechung) bis März in einer Pension lebt.
Ende Januar: In Schelesen Begegnung mit der Prager Angestellten Julie Wohryzek.
Sommer: Verlobung mit Julie Wohryzek.
Oktober: In der Strafkolonie erscheint bei Kurt Wolff. Die geplante Heirat mit Julie Wohryzek wird abgesagt, weil das Paar keine Wohnung findet.
November: In Schelesen schreibt Kafka den umfangreichen Brief an den Vater, der jedoch nie zu seinem Adressaten gelangt.
März: Ernennung zum »Anstaltssekretär«.
April: Kafka fährt für drei Monate zur Kur nach Meran. Beginn des Briefwechsels mit Milena Jesenská.
Mai: Bei Kurt Wolff erscheint Ein Landarzt. Kleine Erzählungen.
Juli: Kafka verbringt in Wien einige Tage mit Milena. Nach seiner Rückkehr nach Prag löst er die Verlobung mit Julie Wohryzek auf.
Dezember: Beginn eines achtmonatigen Kuraufenthalts in Matliary in der Hohen Tatra.
Februar: Beginn der Freundschaft mit dem Medizinstudenten Robert Klopstock.
August: Kafka tritt zum letztenmal seinen Bürodienst an; nach acht Wochen wird er erneut krankgeschrieben.
Januar: Beginn der Arbeit an dem Roman Das Schloss.
Februar: Kuraufenthalt in Spindelmühle (Špindlerův Mlýn) im Riesengebirge.
Frühjahr: Ein Hungerkünstler entsteht.
Juni: Forschungen eines Hundes entsteht. Kafka fährt für etwa drei Monate nach Planá in Südböhmen.
1. Juli: »Vorübergehende« Pensionierung.
August: Abbruch der Arbeit an Das Schloss.
Juni: Letzte erhaltene Tagebucheintragung.
Juli: Kafka fährt für etwa vier Wochen nach Müritz an der Ostsee, wo er Dora Diamant kennenlernt.
August: Für vier Wochen nach Schelesen.
September: Kafka übersiedelt nach Berlin-Steglitz. Wechselnde gemeinsame Wohnungen mit Dora Diamant. Sie leiden unter der Hyperinflation.
November/Dezember: Eine kleine Frau und Der Bau entstehen. Rapide Verschlechterung von Kafkas Gesundheitszustand.
März: Rückkehr nach Prag. Josefine, die Sängerin entsteht.
April: Kafka reist in das Sanatorium ›Wiener Wald‹ in Ortmann, Niederösterreich. Diagnose der Kehlkopftuberkulose.
Überführung in die Universitätsklinik Wien, dann in das Sanatorium Dr. Hugo Hoffmann in Kierling bei Klosterneuburg. Dora Diamant und Robert Klopstock pflegen Kafka, der kaum mehr schlucken kann und sich einer Schweigekur unterziehen muss.
3. Juni: Kafka stirbt gegen Mittag.
11. Juni: Bestattung auf dem jüdischen Friedhof in Prag-Straschnitz.
Franz Kafka nace en Praga; hijo primogénito del comerciante Hermann Kafka (1852-1931) y Julie Löwy (1856-1934).
Inicia sus estudios primarios en la escuela del Mercado de la Carne.
Examen de ingreso en el Staatsgymnasium.
Termina el bachillerato.
Ingresa en la Deutsche Universität (Universidad alemana de Praga), donde empieza a estudiar química. Finalmente abandona esa carrera y opta por la de Derecho.
Corta estancia en Munich.
Inicia su amistad con Oscar Pollak y con Max Brod. Conoce a Brod, quien será su primer biógrafo, en una conferencia que éste da sobre Schopenhauer.
Vacaciones en Liboch y luego en Zumckmantel.
Trabaja en su novela perdida El niño y la ciudad.
En julio exámenes estatales de historia del derecho.
Empieza a escribir Descripción de una lucha.
Termina su carrera universitaria y se doctora en Derecho.
De abril a septiembre trabaja en el bufete jurídico de su tio Richard Lowy.
En octubre se emplea en una compañía de Seguros (Assicurazioni Generali).
Vacaciones en Triesch, en casa de Siegfried Löwy.
Escribe Preparativos para una boda en el campo.
Max Brod lo menciona en el semanario berlinés Die Gebenwart.
Hyperion, la revista de Franz Blei, publica Contemplaciones gracias a las gestiones de Max Brod.
Estrecha su amistad con Brod.
Abandona Assicurazioni Generali para entrar en la paraestatal Compañía de Seguros de Accidentes de Trabajo.
Extractos de Descripción de una lucha aparecen en Hyperion.
Vacaciones con los hermanos Brod en Riva y Brescia.
Escribe Los aeroplanos de Brescia.
Se relaciona con grupos de anarquistas.
Miembro del Círculo de intelectuales, asiste a las reuniones en la casa de Berta Fanta.
Marzo: La revista Bohemia publica cinco relatos más de Contemplaciones.
Mayo: Comienza a escribir su Diario.
Asiste con Brod a una representación de teatro yidsish y se aficiona a este tipo de teatro.
Octubre: Primer viaje a Paris de vacaciones con los hermanos Brod.
Diciembre: Viaja a Berlín.
Conoce a Rudolf Steiner.
Escribe, en colaboración con Max Brod, Ricardo y Samuel, obra que se ha perdido.
Numerosos viajes a Prusia Oriental, Suiza, Italia y Paris.
Pasa una semana en el sanatorio naturista de Enlerbach, cerca de Zurich.
Escribe diarios de viajes.
Traba amistad con el actor Jizchak Löwy.
Escribe La condena, El desaparecido.
Vacaciones en Weimar y en el Harz.
El 13 de agosto conoce a Felice Bauer, con la que inicia una relación.
Noviembre: Escribe La transformación.
Contemplaciones (Betrachtungen) aparece en Rowohlt.
En mayo la editorial Kurt Wolf publica El fogonero, primer capítulo de El desaparecido.
Viajes a Viena, Venecia y Riva.
Compromiso matrimonial en Berlín con Felice Bauer, seguido de una primera ruptura.
Comienza a escribir El proceso y En la colonia penitenciaria.
Amistad con Franz Werfel y el doctor Weiss.
Comienza la Primera Guerra Mundial.
Kafka no es movilizado.
Reanuda su relación con Felice Bauer.
Viaje a Hungría.
Vacaciones con Felice en Marienbad, donde vuelven a comprometerse para casarse.
Escribe El guardian de la tumba y los relatos de Un médico rural.
Publican La condena.
En Munich hace una lectura pública de En la colonia penitenciaria.
Se siente aquejado de dolores de cabeza y trastornos estomacales.
Alquila una habitación en el Palacio Schönborn de Praga.
Escribe Informe para una academia y La muralla china.
Felice y él hacen oficial su segundo compromiso matrimonial.
Se produce su primera hemorragia pulmonar.
El 4 de septiembre le diagnostican tuberculosis.
La enfermedad se convierte en el motivo para romper, por segunda vez, su compromiso con Felice Bauer.
Comienza la redacción de sus Aforismos.
Tras una temporada de descanso, vuelve al trabajo en la oficina.
Su salud empeora nuevamente.
Aparece publicado En la colonia penitenciaria.
Escribe una larga carta a su padre, que nunca será entregada (Carta al padre).
Continúa su trabajo en la Compañía de Seguros, donde es ascendido.
Conoce a Gustav Janouch.
Correspondencia con Milena Jesenská, escritora en lengua checa que pretende traducir su trabajo.
Pasa un fin de semana con ella en Gmúnd.
Su salud empeora y trata de reponerse en Matliary.
Se reincorpora a su trabajo.
Encuentro con Milena.
De enero a septiembre escribe El castillo.
Nuevo empeoramiento de su estado de salud, por lo que pasa una temporada en Spindlelmühle.
Escribe Un artista del hambre e Investigaciones de un perro.
En mayo se produce el último encuentro con Milena.
La compañía le concede un permiso temporal y Kafka pasa una temporada en Planá con su hermana Ottla.
Kafka le pide a Max Brod que, cuando muera, destruya toda su obra.
En Müritz, conoce a Dora Diamant. Se instalan en una humilde vivienda de los suburbios de Berlín.
Escribe La construcción.
El padre de Dora Diamant se niega a dar el consentimiento para que su hija se case con Kafka.
Escribe el que será su último relato Josefina la Cantora, o el pueblo de los ratones.
La salud de Kafka empeora definitivamente. Pasa por varios sanatorios: Wiener Wald, la clínica Hajek y el sanatorio Kierling, cerca de Viena.
Muere el 3 de junio en Kierling.
Es enterrado el 11 de junio en el cementerio judío de Praga-Straschnitz.
Franz Kafka biography
(1883-1924) Jewish Czech-born Writer
Franz Kafka is considered to be one of the most important and influential writers of the 20th century. His work, most of which was published posthumously, continues to be a source of research, scholarship and philosophical discussion in diverse academic, literary and popular arenas.
Franz Kafka Birth and childhood
Franz Kafka was born on July 3, 1883, the first child of Hermann and Julie (née Löwy) Kafka. His parents were upwardly mobile middle class, his father setting up a dry goods store and his mother coming from a well-to-do family. Hermann Kafka was born September 14, 1852 in the little town of Wossek, about sixty miles south of Prague, near Pisek, the fourth child of a butcher, Jacob Kafka. His family was poor and at the age of 18 he moved to Prague in hopes of bettering his situation. He succeded, opening his own store and winning Julie Löwy, born March 23, 1856 in Podebray, the second child of Jakob Löwy, a well-to-do cloth merchant and brewer. They were married on September 3, 1882 and Franz, named for Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary, came along less than a year later.
Two years later, another son, Georg, was born, but died a year later. Another son, Heinrich, was born in 1887, but also died less than a year later. The effect of this on Franz is difficult to assess. He later stated that the deaths were preventable, due to doctor's errors. Nevertheless, on September 22, 1889 the first of his sisters, Gabriele "Elli", was born, followed by Valerie "Valli" on September 25, 1890, and Ottilie "Ottla" on October 29, 1892. The children were brought up mostly by governesses, a common practice among the middle and upper classes of the time. The family moved from apartment to apartment as their financial situation improved, owing to the success of the store. Young Franz was quiet and withdrawn. However, he liked to write plays for his sisters to put on in their spare time, and was a voracious reader.
Franz was sent to German schools, not Czech ones, which demonstrates his father's desire for social advancement. At this time the vast majority of people in Prague spoke Czech, but owing to the power of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the language of the elites was German. Franz had been speaking mostly Czech as a child (owing to the fact that his governesses were Czech), but learned to master the German tongue early, as reflected in his wonderful handling of it in his stories. In school he did well, taking classes like Latin, Greek and history. At 13, he had his bar mizvah, which he later remembered as dull and meaningless. His religious upbringing was limited mostly to that and going to the synagogue four times a year with his father, which didn't give him much to go on. In 1901 he graduated from the Altstädter Gymnasium, and went on to Charles Ferdinand University, where at first he decided to study chemistry, as one of his friends was doing. This only lasted for Twoweeks before he switched to law. The next semester he tried his hand at German Literature, only to find that the professors and the study didn't exactly agree with him, and went back to law, which he said he picked so it would not interfere with his mental life. At school he met another student a year younger than he was, Max Brod, who was a writer of some note and had his own little circle. The Twowould become very close friends for the rest of their lives. In June 1906, he graduated with a doctorate in law.
The Hermann & Co. Asbestos Factory, or Early Adulthood
Franz had been trying his hand at serious writing since about 1898, but these early works were destroyed. Later he began writing more seriously. His first extant story, Description of a Struggle, dates from 1904-1905. He got his first job at the Assicurizioni Generali Insurance Company in 1907 but soon left, due to the lengthy hours and intolerable conditions. Later, in 1908, he began working at the Workers' Accident Insurance Institute, where he would work most of the rest of his life, although only sporadically after 1917, and in June 1922 he was put on "temporary retirement" with a pension. This job, although not great, had short hours (8 to 2) and so allowed him time to think and write. In 1911, however, this state of affairs was shattered when his father wanted him to take charge of his brother-in-law Karl Hermann's asbestos factory, which took up a lot of his time until 1917 (when it was shut down) and literally almost drove him to suicide. He still looked extremely young, sometimes being mistaken for being 15 or 16 when in fact he was 28. In 1911 he also made a trip to Paris, Italy, and Switzerland with Brod. He also became very interested in Yiddish theater (think a more melodramatic, more ethnic, shlockier, unintentionally funny sitcom or soap opera), even going so far as to give a talk on Yiddish in 1912 and becoming close friends with Isaac Löwy, a Yiddish theater actor, whom his father considered a good for nothing. Besides, Hermann Kafka thought his son was too eccentric, with his vegetarianism and quiet nature.
Max Brod convinced Kafka to publish some of his work, and in January 1913 Meditation, a collection of some early short stories and sketches, appeared. In the meantime he was gathering information for his "American novel," which he began writing in 1912.
Throughout his college days and well into adulthood, Franz was definitely not living the life of a monk. He had numerous affairs and one-night stands with barmaids, waitresses, and shopgirls, not to mention his visits to the whorehouses, activities that most men in Prague at the time also indulged in. However, these relations with women were entirely sexual. They didn't mean anything to him beyond immediate sexual gratification.
The most bizarre aspect of his sex life, though, was that sex was absolutely repulsive and disgusting to him. Hence, the very idea of "normal married life" with a respectable woman was too much for him. "Coitus as the punishment for the happiness of being together," he wrote in his diary, when faced with the prospect of marriage and what that would entail. He would time and again break off engagements, sometimes nearly at the last minute, in order to escape it. Franz seems to have suffered from the malady common to many at that place and time: namely, the virgin/whore complex, where every woman is either a "nice girl" or a slut, with no room in between. So a normal, adult affair with a woman he liked and respected would prove all but impossible, as Felice Bauer soon found out.
On the evening of August 13, 1912, Franz met Felice Bauer, born November 18, 1887 and living in Berlin, at Brod's house and soon became enamored of her?at least of the image of her he had in his mind. He began writing her long letters about everything, although mostly about himself and his feelings of inadequacy. In this first flush of love he wrote "The Judgment" on the night of 22-23 September, which he dedicated to her. He considered it his first mature work, and proudly read it to his family and friends. In November and December he wrote "The Metamorphosis." He also worked at Amerika, or Der Verschollene (The Stoker, the first chapter, appeared separately in book form in 1913); work on it continued sporadically until 1914.
During this time, in September 1913 he went to a sanatorium in Riva, Italy for his health, which had never been extrordinarily good, and there met an 18-year-old Swiss girl, Gerti Wasner, whom he liked very much. He would do cute things like knock on the ceiling (their rooms were directly on top of each other) and go to the window to talk to her at night, or write fairy tales to read her over breakfast. Although this affair only lasted the ten days they were there together, it seems to have made a deep impression on him.
Meanwhile the courship by letter of Felice continued. He would write her every day, sometimes even more often, frequently complaining about how bad or dirty he was, but confident that she would listen to it all. Eventually he proposed to her in 1913, and she accepted, although in the same letter Franz wrote asking her he also went on and on as to why he would be bad for her.
Felice had a friend, Grete Bloch, born 1892, who also began writing to Franz. She acted as an intermediary between Franz and Felice; Franz would write to her about some of his problems with Felice, and she would try to help. They wrote each other many letters and built up a kind of friendship. Grete wanted more, though—she seems to have wanted Franz all to herself.
Prague writer in paternity suit Shocker!
|The Prague Enquirer has recently found out that Franz Kafka, 31, an insurance worker who "scribbles" in his spare time, has allegedly fathered a son by one Grete Bloch, 22, a friend of his fiancée, Felice Bauer, 26. Sources tell the Enquirer that the Twolovers supposedly sneaked away together during the few times they met on visits, sometimes with Bauer in tow. Kafka and Bloch reportedly have been having a hot-'n-heavy affair, with Bauer knowing nothing of it. A teary Bloch told the Enquirer that she didn't want to spoil the relationship between Kafka and Bauer, so she kept quiet about her pregnancy and dropped out of sight. "I love him, but I know what this relationship means to him—escape from his hellish life with his family."
Frankly, I think this whole episode is tabloid material. I tend to doubt it myself. For one thing, the only source for it is Grete Bloch herself, in a letter written to a friend 25 years after the fact, in 1940, which Max Brod got ahold of from a friend and printed in the second revised edition of his Kafka biography. She says she had a little boy in 1914 that died at the age of seven, in 1921. There is no other concrete evidence for any of this, and Grete said that Franz knew nothing about the child, which seems to be a little unbelievable, since they did in fact keep in contact for a couple of years after. In fact, when Franz, Felice, and Grete met again seven or eight months later, it should be noted that nobody seemed to notice anything amiss! Grete apparently became a bit enamored of him, whom, we must note, she admired fervently. Wishful thinking, perhaps? Also, it's hard to believe Kafka, who was deathly afraid of sex anyway and who wrote pages and pages of letters to Felice about why he couldn't bring himself to do the nasty with her, would then go after her friend. Franz was, after all, virtually incapable of a "normal" sexual affair with a "nice girl" like Grete, owing to his rather neurotic attitude towards sex. Unfortunately, we can't ask Grete more about it, since she was beaten to death by the Nazis in 1944. The conclusion? There's no way to know for certain, although probably not.
The Trial, or Tuberculosis Takes its Toll
August 2 — "Germany has declared war on Russia. Swimming in the afternoon." — Diary, 1914
Franz broke off the engagement in July of 1914, undergoing a particularly nasty scene in a hotel with Felice, her sister Erna, and Grete Bloch, but nevertheless continued writing to her. He began writing The Trial that same year, working on it off and on until 1916. Max Brod hounded Franz to publish some more of his work, and "The Judgment" appeared in 1913. "The Stoker" also came out in 1913 and "The Metamorphosis" in 1915, put out by Kurt Wolff Verlag, his publisher, which had some faith in him but he remained almost unknown. In 1915 he won the Theodor Fontane Prize, 800 marks and an ever more slightly hightened reputation. He toyed with the idea of being a soldier after World War I broke out, apparently to prove his manhood, or perhaps to escape his engagement to Felice, even though he professed to hate both sides, but eventually lost interest. In any case, he was exempt from it by his job in the Worker's Accident Insurance Institute, which was partially owned by the government.
Although Franz proposed again to Felice in July 1917 after actually spending a week with her at Marienbad, and later taking a trip with her to Budapest, he began coughing up blood and in August was diagnos ed with tuberculosis. Always fearful of marriage and sex, this spelled the end of his relationship with Felice, who had had about enough of his crap. She married another man in 1919 but kept his letters.
After the diagnosis of his tuberculosis, he went to stay with his favorite sister, Ottla, in Zürau, northwest of Prague, which was peaceful, healthy, and most of all for the hypersensitive-to-noise Kafka, quiet. Here he wrote what would become The Blue Octavo Notebooks, a collection of proverbs, thoughts and sketches. After eight months of what he later termed the happiest period in his life, he returned to Prague.
Despite his failing health, he became engaged again, this time to Julie Whoryzek (1891-1939), the daughter of a synagogue janitor and shoemaker, in 1919, causing his father to go on and on about how he would have to sell the store and emigrate to escape the shame to the family name caused by this union, one of the reasons he would write the confessional, lacerating Letter to His Father that same year. (Incidentally, his father never saw this letter. Franz gave it to his mother so that she would give to him, but after looking at it she thought better of it.) Nevertheless, Franz went so far as to pick out an apartment for him and Julie and came within a couple of days of the wedding before breaking it off. A new person had come into his life.
Milena Jesenská-Pollak was the wife of one of Franz's friends, Ernst Pollak. She was born August 10, 1896, and was a strong, intelligent woman who recognized his talent and uniqueness. They began writing to each other in 1920 and very occasionally saw each other. Milena wasn't Jewish but she did relate to Jews. Her husband, she said, was unfaithful to her "a hundred times a year," and she found some solace in Franz after separating from Pollak. Whether or not they were lovers isn't really clear. They did love and care for each other very much, but Franz's fear of sex remained, which he openly discussed with her. She was very understanding, not just with this matter but with all his problems. They did go to see each other a few times, but again, as with Felice, this was mostly an affair-by-mail. After a while, in 1923, Milena and Pollak were reconciled, and Franz broke off the relationship, saying they shouldn't see each other or write. The Castle was written in about nine months of feverish work during 1922. Kafka's most complex and perhaps strangest work (no mean feat), it's since been interpreted thousands of times in hundreds of different ways, even though (or perhaps because) it remained unfinished. Milena seems to have been a major inspiration, specifically in the character of Frieda, and a café she and her husband frequented in Vienna, the Herrenhof, turns up in the book.
"Ev'ry morning, ev'ry evening, Ain't we got fun?/ Not much money, oh but honey, ain't we got fun?" — 1921
In the summer of 1923, owing to his interest in Judaism and Zionism, Franz was trying to learn Hebrew (which had been taught at school but didn't make an impression on him at the time), and went through a couple of teachers before meeting Dora Diamant (sometimes spelled Dymant), an Orthodox Jewish girl from Poland who could read Hebrew fluently. She purpoted to be about 19 years old, but in fact was more like 24. They met in July in the resort town of Graal-Müritz on the German coast of the Baltic Sea and hit it off more or less immediately. They became very close, and in September Franz moved out of his parents' apartment, which, aside from a few attempts from 1915-1917 to have his own place, he had never left and moved to Berlin with Dora. The nature of the relationship between them is not really clear. Although they shared a Tworoom apartment in a boarding house, Franz seems to have had more of a friendly rather than a sexual relationship with her. Despite their poverty, being unable to pay even the electric bill, he seemed happier than he had ever been in his life, writing "A Little Woman," "The Burrow," and "Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk."
My love, my love, my good one!"
As 1924 began, Franz's health got worse and worse. He was forced to go to a couple of sanatoriums, and his weight plummeted. In April he went to a sanitorium in Kierling, Austria, near Vienna. He agreed to the publication of "A Hunger Artist," with some other stories, and began proofing the galleys. He asked Dora's rabbi father for permission to marry her, even though he was almost totally wasted away, and was turned down. But he seemed happy enough with Dora at his bedside. He died on June 3, 1924.
Dora was inconsolable. "My love, my love, my good one!" she went around crying (which always breaks my heart and brings a tear to my eye). The funeral was held on June 10th at the Jewish Cemetery in Prague.[...]
— Franz Kafka website by Daniel Hornek
— Constructing Franz Kafka
— Kafka kades
— Franz Kafka in Lübeck
— Kafka Society of America
— Deutsche Kafka-Gesellschaft
— Společnost Franze Kafky
— Das Virtuelle Kafka-Bureau