Life and literature: Rüdiger Safranski reads Kafka | EUROtoday

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DThe variety of publications on Kafka has lengthy since turn out to be nearly unattainable to maintain observe of. The anniversary 12 months – Kafka died in 1924 – is producing many extra titles, and anybody who needs to contribute to this could do effectively to justify their intentions. Rüdiger Safranski, biographer of Nietzsche, Goethe, Schopenhauer, Schiller, Hoffmann, Heidegger and Hölderlin, additionally is aware of this and speaks of “a single trace in Franz Kafka's life” that follows his e book and that’s “the obvious one”: “That Writing itself and his struggle for it”.

It's apparent, in truth, that Kafka's devotion to his writing has turn out to be a topos for many years, which alternatively could be all of the extra motive to light up and problem this topos. Safranski contributes the anecdote, taken from Kafka's diary from 1911, in response to which the illustrator and Tucholsky good friend Kurt Szafranski reminded Kafka of his personal “strong ability to transform” via his grimacing, “which no one notices. How often did I have to imitate Max.” Safranski provides the remark that “the mimetic desire” “drives you beyond yourself and allows you to take part in another life and is in this way also linked to writing” – that is significantly necessary wished for a bit of extra, as a result of Kafka's writing usually has the repute of being drawn fully from the individual of the writer and fewer from the imitation of others.

“I consist of literature”

Safranski's e book, which isn’t labeled as a biography and truly recollects Kafka's life primarily to deal with the writer's writing course of, additionally focuses on the exterior and inside situations that allow and form this course of. The encounter with Felice Bauer in 1912 is of explicit significance in Safranski's portrayal, as a result of the start of the correspondence with the younger girl to whom he would later turn out to be engaged is “the moment of a creative breakthrough the likes of which Kafka had never experienced before “ and which results in the story “The Judgment”.

Rüdiger Safranski: “Kafka”.  Write about your life.  Hanser Verlag, Munich 2024. 256 pages, hardcover, €26.

Rüdiger Safranski: “Kafka”. Write about your life. Hanser Verlag, Munich 2024. 256 pages, hardcover, €26.

Image: Publisher

At the identical time, Safranski acknowledges an ambivalence in Kafka's relationship with Felice Bauer and a few of her successors on Kafka's facet, which generally favors writing and generally opposes it. Kafka's well-known quote that he “has no literary interest but consists of literature”, which is quoted a number of instances firstly of Safranski's e book after which seems paraphrased, offers the angle on the writer. His turning away from the exterior world, which then step by step merges into the inner world of writing, is a story thread that the e book follows, even when one might object to a lot of issues: friendships and engagements, journey and emigration plans from South America to Palestine and, final however not least, Kafka glorious perspective within the bread-and-butter occupation, which Safranski additionally highlights. And the truth that the dying Kafka allowed what the very younger writer additionally allowed, that individuals watched him write – what does that imply for the stress between the self and the world?

The strengths of this surprisingly slim quantity are the interpretations of the works, every chapter of which follows brief biographical sketches and clearly redefines the final necessity of writing within the context of Kafka's respective life scenario, which the writer makes believable with many detailed observations of the textual content.

Unfortunately, its weaknesses could be discovered within the type. This not solely impacts spelling errors, but additionally grammar in some locations. About “a lady who . . .” is what we're talking about, or: “Kafka had learn Hofmannsthal's 'Lord Chandos' letter with the consent of Hofmannsthal” – did he need to ask for permission? More critical is Safranski's tendency to usually instantly repeat Kafka quotes in his personal phrases or to repeat factual info in shut proximity, as if the writer didn’t have a excessive opinion of his readers' reminiscence.

Rüdiger Safranski: “Kafka”. Write about your life. Hanser Verlag, Munich 2024. 256 pages, hardcover, €26.