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Diaries of Franz Kafka (Schocken Classics Series)

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These diaries cover the years 1910 to 1923, the year before Kafka’s death at the age of forty. They provide a penetrating look into life in Prague and into Kafka’s accounts of his dreams, his feelings for the father he worshipped and the woman he could not bring himself to marry, his sense of guilt, and his feelings of being an outcast. They offer an account of a life of a These diaries cover the years 1910 to 1923, the year before Kafka’s death at the age of forty. They provide a penetrating look into life in Prague and into Kafka’s accounts of his dreams, his feelings for the father he worshipped and the woman he could not bring himself to marry, his sense of guilt, and his feelings of being an outcast. They offer an account of a life of almost unbearable intensity. From the Trade Paperback edition. The Diaries of Franz Kafka 1910-13 translated from the German by Joseph Kresh The Diaries of Franz Kafka 1914-23 translated from the German by Martin Greenberg with the cooperation of Hannah Arendt


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These diaries cover the years 1910 to 1923, the year before Kafka’s death at the age of forty. They provide a penetrating look into life in Prague and into Kafka’s accounts of his dreams, his feelings for the father he worshipped and the woman he could not bring himself to marry, his sense of guilt, and his feelings of being an outcast. They offer an account of a life of a These diaries cover the years 1910 to 1923, the year before Kafka’s death at the age of forty. They provide a penetrating look into life in Prague and into Kafka’s accounts of his dreams, his feelings for the father he worshipped and the woman he could not bring himself to marry, his sense of guilt, and his feelings of being an outcast. They offer an account of a life of almost unbearable intensity. From the Trade Paperback edition. The Diaries of Franz Kafka 1910-13 translated from the German by Joseph Kresh The Diaries of Franz Kafka 1914-23 translated from the German by Martin Greenberg with the cooperation of Hannah Arendt

30 review for Diaries of Franz Kafka (Schocken Classics Series)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Buck

    Some people have a talent for suffering, as others have a knack for Sudoku or needlepoint. Give them every advantage in life – brains, looks, money – and still they’ll manage to fall ass-backwards into hopeless misery. I’m not talking about clinical depression, which, debilitating as it is, doesn’t require any particular skill. I’m talking about a philosophical aptitude for despair. Maybe it’s only a snobbish distinction; maybe despair is just depression’s hip, uptown cousin, who went to better Some people have a talent for suffering, as others have a knack for Sudoku or needlepoint. Give them every advantage in life – brains, looks, money – and still they’ll manage to fall ass-backwards into hopeless misery. I’m not talking about clinical depression, which, debilitating as it is, doesn’t require any particular skill. I’m talking about a philosophical aptitude for despair. Maybe it’s only a snobbish distinction; maybe despair is just depression’s hip, uptown cousin, who went to better schools and read more Kierkegaard. But if there is a real difference between them, it probably comes down to this: that depression is sterile and unproductive, while despair can be, in certain rare cases, wonderfully creative. As evidence, I offer the works of Franz Kafka. If suffering takes talent, Kafka was some kind of virtuoso – the Yo-Yo Ma of angst. Every page of his diary testifies to an abiding spiritual affliction, an incurable Weltschmerz. His modern biographers tend to resist this view of Kafka, reminding us that he was, after all, a successful lawyer, a charming habitué of literary salons, even something of a ladies’ man. And no doubt he was. But all that was on the outside. Inside, it was one vast sea of anguish. He could hold it in, he could stand and watch it from the shore, but it was always there, sloshing around. I call it a sea, but Kafka himself found other, more ingenious metaphors to describe his condition: Who will save me? And the turmoil in me, deep down, scarcely visible; I am like a living lattice-work, a lattice that is solidly planted and would like to tumble down. If there is a transmigration of souls then I am not yet on the bottom rung. My life is a hesitation before birth. I don’t believe people exist whose inner plight resembles mine; still, it is possible for me to imagine such people – but that the secret raven flaps about their heads as it does about mine, even to imagine that is impossible. In that last passage, he almost sounds like a hypersensitive teenager complaining that nobody understands his unique pain. Almost – but then you come to the ‘secret raven’, a tiny stroke of genius that could only have occurred to Kafka. I’m going to propose an eccentric theory. Everybody psychologizes about Kafka, so here’s my kick at the can. Is it possible that Kafka’s prodigious gift for metaphor actually contributed to his problem? What I mean is, perhaps he cultivated his despair precisely in order to have a subject worthy of his gift. A nice Jewish kid with girl trouble and a vague hate-on for his dad – not very promising material, he might have decided; time to kick it up a notch. I’m not questioning his sincerity. I don’t doubt that he suffered. But I am suggesting that his compulsive search for new means of describing his inner life became an end in itself. His metaphors explained his despair but, in some sense, his despair also explained and justified his metaphors. Let me try an analogy of my own. Say you inherit this beautiful Louis Quinze escritoire from your gay, furniture-dealer uncle. Great, but now you’ve got a problem, because that big hunk of marqueterie is going to look ridiculous amid your IKEA end tables and Pier 1 bric-a-brac. Since you can’t bear to part with such a lovely objet d’art, you realize you’ll have to design a setting rich and tasteful enough to accommodate it. You might even decide you need to move into a tonier building, class up your wardrobe and get some new friends while you’re at it. And all because of some French antique. That, roughly, is the sort of effect Kafka’s equivocal gift might have had on his life, turning ordinary, middle-class Jewish angst into a lush and extravagant despair. But, as I said, it’s just a theory. I’m not married to it or anything.

  2. 4 out of 5

    E. G.

    Manuscript of the first page of the 'Diaries' --Diaries, 1910-1923 --Travel Diaries Postscript Notes Chronology 1883-1924 List of Authors, Artists, Periodicals, and Works Manuscript of the first page of the 'Diaries' --Diaries, 1910-1923 --Travel Diaries Postscript Notes Chronology 1883-1924 List of Authors, Artists, Periodicals, and Works

  3. 5 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    Behold, the hardest-to-put-down diary that I’ve ever read! Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was a Jew born to German-speaking parents in Prague. His works are so brilliant that they seem to be eternal and the term kafkaesque has been coined to describe the something that is characteristic of him or his works. Who are these authors whose names had to be immortalized in the English dictionary? ballardian – adj. resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in Ballard’s novels and stories, esp. dy Behold, the hardest-to-put-down diary that I’ve ever read! Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was a Jew born to German-speaking parents in Prague. His works are so brilliant that they seem to be eternal and the term kafkaesque has been coined to describe the something that is characteristic of him or his works. Who are these authors whose names had to be immortalized in the English dictionary? ballardian – adj. resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in Ballard’s novels and stories, esp. dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes, and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments. borgesian – adj. reminiscent of elements of Borges’ stories and essays, esp. labyrinths, mirrors, reality, identity, nature of time and infinity. dickesian – adj. resembling or suggestive of conditions described in Dicken’s novels, or his works especially squalid and poverty-stricken or characterized by jollity and conviviality hemingwayesque – adj. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Ernest Hemingway or his works jamesian – adj. of, pertaining to, or characteristics of novelist Henry James or his writings. joycean – adj. of, pertaining to, or characteristics of novelist James Joyce or his writings. Kafkaesque – adj. marked by a senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity. orwellian - adj. pertaining to, characteristic of, or resembling the literary work of George Orwell or the totalitarian future described in his antiutopian novel 1984 (1949). sadism – noun. The condition in which sexual gratification depends on causing pain or degradation to others. The authors similarity? Their works are all classics that definitely will outlive all of us. I oftentimes see pychonesque but my online search said that there is no such a word. There are also no terms from female authors like austenian, woolfesque, brontesque, bowenian, murdochian, etc. and definitely no rowlingesque or collinsesque. Maybe their works neither make distinctive and specific meaning that could not be found in any of the existing words nor merit inclusion in the same league as those of above authors. The book is divided into two parts: his diaries from 1910-1923 and his travel diary. The first part is sad and gloomy. He died of starvation in 1924 because food could not be administered into his mouth due to tuberculosis (consumption). The administration of dextrose via intravenous was not yet discovered at that time. With this information given in the blurb, I could not help but pay more attention to the progress of the disease. He was a very sickly frail young man and he died single at the age of 40. It was like watching the movie Titanic when you know that the ship will eventually sink and all most of those characters on the screen would eventually die. However, as they say, diaries are written for personal consumption and the diarists have no intention of sharing them to public. This one seems not to be an exception since it mostly covers the negative, angry and personal, i.e., sex and love lives, (although the too-personal were removed by his friend Max) thoughts of Kafka. So, Kafka’s critics say that these diaries do not contain the “whole” Kafka as a person. His happy and jovial side, found in his novels like The Trial cannot be found here. And for me, that fact makes this book more interesting. It is like knowing the negative side of a brilliant mind that defined not only his generation but all of the future generations. After few more generations, people will no longer be reading Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling will be left into oblivion but, primarily because of the word coined from his name, people will still be reading The Trial and still be interested to know Franz Kafka and there is no better way to learn the “complete” him but by reading his Diaries.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sunil

    Anais Nin once wrote that a personal world lived deep enough transcends the truth in all universes. Those words have never been more applicable to any writer other than Franz Kafka. And in this book you can see why. I remember reading it throughout a whole couple of nights, unable to force myself to stop, absolutely fascinated by a world constructed so delicately, yet unabatedly-sentence by sublime sentence into a marvellous prose edifice. I can still recall one entire setting where he just desc Anais Nin once wrote that a personal world lived deep enough transcends the truth in all universes. Those words have never been more applicable to any writer other than Franz Kafka. And in this book you can see why. I remember reading it throughout a whole couple of nights, unable to force myself to stop, absolutely fascinated by a world constructed so delicately, yet unabatedly-sentence by sublime sentence into a marvellous prose edifice. I can still recall one entire setting where he just describes a billowing shawl of a woman waiting in winter for a train. This is not art but is simply beyond art. We can never be grateful enough to Max Brod for preserving the manuscript against Kafka’s wishes, which I regard as one of the two most significant events in twentieth century literature. The other of course being Sylvia Beach deciding to publish The Ulysses.

  5. 4 out of 5

    d.a.v.i.d

    I would suggest two aspirin before engaging in this diary. And possibly a small dose of morphine upon its' completion. I would suggest two aspirin before engaging in this diary. And possibly a small dose of morphine upon its' completion.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    As with so many other diary collections, I felt something of a sense of guilt about reading this. Given Kafka's outward behaviors -- the successful insurance lawyer and inveterate womanizer, one imagines him holding court over a packed bar with a glass of Scotch and a Czech honey on each side -- and given the brilliant eeriness of his stories, the diaries reveal that the two things that these facets of his life have in common is a fundamental anguish and insecurity. We also see him early on, heav As with so many other diary collections, I felt something of a sense of guilt about reading this. Given Kafka's outward behaviors -- the successful insurance lawyer and inveterate womanizer, one imagines him holding court over a packed bar with a glass of Scotch and a Czech honey on each side -- and given the brilliant eeriness of his stories, the diaries reveal that the two things that these facets of his life have in common is a fundamental anguish and insecurity. We also see him early on, heavily involved in the specifically Jewish social, intellectual, and religious life of Prague, and we see him later on, more cosmopolitan in his outlook, and less likely to identify with the community of his birth. Which is interesting -- while countless more contemporary writers try so shoehorn this sort of standpoint-theory Judaism into his fiction, which has always irked me, you can see the ways in which he was shaped by the debates over Zionism (which he was rather suspicious of) and by mysticism as it was practiced in prewar Prague. It's a funny thing about Kafka. His writings are so universal and so abstract that you can project whatever you want onto them, and still come out with results.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chase

    Genius in embryo. Easily one of the most inspirational books I've ever read....Every last ounce of self-doubt and tribulation I've felt in my own life, Kafka gives voice to it here. For every disgruntled writer the world over...Kafka is our Christ and this is the holy book. Words from the prophet himself. Splendid, if a bit disorganized... Genius in embryo. Easily one of the most inspirational books I've ever read....Every last ounce of self-doubt and tribulation I've felt in my own life, Kafka gives voice to it here. For every disgruntled writer the world over...Kafka is our Christ and this is the holy book. Words from the prophet himself. Splendid, if a bit disorganized...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Felix

    I read these journals more than ten years ago (different edition), but they made a very lasting impression on me. They are interesting, haunting, and filled with humor. These are the qualities of Kafka's novels and short stories, although I enjoyed the journals the most. I would highly recommend to any fans of Kafka, the disconsolate, and those interested in the process of writing. I read these journals more than ten years ago (different edition), but they made a very lasting impression on me. They are interesting, haunting, and filled with humor. These are the qualities of Kafka's novels and short stories, although I enjoyed the journals the most. I would highly recommend to any fans of Kafka, the disconsolate, and those interested in the process of writing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    In how many ways is it possible to express one’s discontent? Keeping in mind Chomsky’s observations with regard to the ability of the human mind to construct new sentences, and the infinite variety of the forms of linguistic signification that supplies one of the conditions making this creative power possible, the response to this question could perhaps better be expressed in terms of contingencies like quantum values or Borgesian hypotheses, than in something so literal as an ordinal number. Al In how many ways is it possible to express one’s discontent? Keeping in mind Chomsky’s observations with regard to the ability of the human mind to construct new sentences, and the infinite variety of the forms of linguistic signification that supplies one of the conditions making this creative power possible, the response to this question could perhaps better be expressed in terms of contingencies like quantum values or Borgesian hypotheses, than in something so literal as an ordinal number. Already the question is in question. But to follow the conceptual with the existential (as the ridiculous sometimes follows the sublime), on how many occasions might one return in print to the theme of one’s discontent before exhausting the very finite patience of one’s reader who, lord knows, has problems of his or her own? If you’re Kafka, probably more times than most. In this edition of Kafka’s diaries, edited by his friend Max Brod (who, contrary to Kafka’s last wishes, rescued his work from oblivion, with the world richer for it), Kafka discusses his discontent in almost every other entry. Discontent with his family (particularly his father), with women to whom he is attracted (particularly F.B.), and always, always with himself (for not getting married, for not working enough). This is not to say that Kafka only complains, just to say that it seems as if he writes more about his discontent than about any other subject. And because he is intimate with it, he finds more than one way to write about it. Sometimes stating the fact of discontent, with a mention of its cause, perhaps, is enough, but there are other instances in which Kafka will write a paragraph or two commenting on the subject. In some passages, Kafka analyzes his discontent by breaking it into parts which he numbers and discusses separately; in these instances, one gets the sense of Kafka as one who can think about his emotional experiences abstractly and, if not entirely objectively, then without a great amount of distortion. Perhaps it is because of this that of the diaries and journals I have read, I think Kafka’s might be the saddest, but also the most honest. In addition to supplying the reader with an idea of Kafka’s emotional experiences, the Diaries reflect something of Kafka’s intellectual and creative activity. In the early pages, for instance, he writes frequently of going to the theatre, and describes his impressions of the plays he sees. In these passages one can see the attention to detail that one finds in Kafka’s fiction, particularly in the descriptions of costumes and the gestures and facial expressions of the actors and actresses (by some of whom it seems Kafka may have been a bit starstruck). In addition, he comments on books he is reading, on lectures he has heard, and on his own art and that of others. Although he writes about his writing in a general way, and does not discuss his intentions with regard to the meanings of works like The Trial and “The Metamorphosis,” there are some passages that, for me, show something of Kafka’s sense of himself as a creative individual. For instance, I was surprised to learn how confident he was with regards to his resolve to be an artist. For an idea of his creative process, the Diaries include passages in which he experiments with ideas for stories, frequently writing a sentence or two or a paragraph of a scene on which a story might open, then stopping, sometimes in mid-sentence. So how satisfying is it to read of Kafka’s discontent? Pretty satisfying, if you’re interested in knowing something about the mind of a writer.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mary Slowik

    Why read Kafka's diaries? Well, simply put, they're interesting. They do make for tough reading merely because they're so fragmentary, and I can see why I gave up on them as a teenager. For long stretches of time, he has singular interests: theater, Judaism, etc. Then, in the later years, his health problems creep in more and more, and you get a picture of the ailing artist. What especially interested me were the less contiguous parts, the stand-alone entries, whether these took the form of dream Why read Kafka's diaries? Well, simply put, they're interesting. They do make for tough reading merely because they're so fragmentary, and I can see why I gave up on them as a teenager. For long stretches of time, he has singular interests: theater, Judaism, etc. Then, in the later years, his health problems creep in more and more, and you get a picture of the ailing artist. What especially interested me were the less contiguous parts, the stand-alone entries, whether these took the form of dreams, momentary impressions, or ideas / iterations of stories. Some entries are totally opaque or minimalist, which I also kind of enjoyed: "19 January. Hopes?" "24 June. Nothing." As Max Brod notes in the postscript, most of the basic diary entries catch Kafka at his worst, since people (Kafka included) tend to write down negative emotions, as a way to purge them. The travel diaries balance this impression. All the same, Kafka seemed exceptionally pained and haunted, dubious about the value of life, stuck in a familiar, existential bind. Not especially wanting to live, but holding back from suicide. So yes these diaries are somewhat depressing but, still, interesting.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kate Savage

    "The strange, mysterious, perhaps dangerous, perhaps saving comfort that there is in writing: it is a leap out of murderers’ row; it is a seeing of what is really taking place. This occurs by a higher type of observation, a higher, not a keener type, and the higher it is and the less within reach of the 'row,' the more independent it becomes, the more obedient to its own laws of motion, the more incalculable, the more joyful, the more ascendant its course." -- from the diary I have only read the "The strange, mysterious, perhaps dangerous, perhaps saving comfort that there is in writing: it is a leap out of murderers’ row; it is a seeing of what is really taking place. This occurs by a higher type of observation, a higher, not a keener type, and the higher it is and the less within reach of the 'row,' the more independent it becomes, the more obedient to its own laws of motion, the more incalculable, the more joyful, the more ascendant its course." -- from the diary I have only read the second volume of Kafka's journals (from 1914 - 1923). And I cherished it more than anything else I have read from Kafka, who is one of my favorite writers. He is petulant sometimes, he is petty. He writes a long description of Napoleon's strategic mistakes. And still when he sinks down into the source of his need to write, he is able to say what he can't quite get to in his more intentional works. As Helene Cixous put it: "I want the forest before the book, the abundance of leaves before the pages, I love the creation as much as the created, no, more. I love the Kafka of the Journals, the executioner-victim, I love the process a thousand times more than the Trial process (no, a hundred times more)."

  12. 5 out of 5

    royaevereads

    I very much enjoyed reading Kafka's diaries. Many things about it surprised me - how humanity and life is still much the same over 100 years later. How little faith such a great writer had in himself. Since this is a diary it is a lot of different thoughts thrown together. The parts I skimmed over were his thoughts about plays and operas he attended. But there were many parts that had me entranced including Kafka's dreams, his analysis of his own work, little stories, information about his day t I very much enjoyed reading Kafka's diaries. Many things about it surprised me - how humanity and life is still much the same over 100 years later. How little faith such a great writer had in himself. Since this is a diary it is a lot of different thoughts thrown together. The parts I skimmed over were his thoughts about plays and operas he attended. But there were many parts that had me entranced including Kafka's dreams, his analysis of his own work, little stories, information about his day to day life and his darkest thoughts.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Jackson Frazier

    Very revealing insight into the author's work. I don't think you can really appreciate Kafka until you read about his life. He was lonely, depressed, self conscious and in love with someone who didn't love him. He never published in his lifetime but wanted his work destroyed. And, it shows how his work is insightful political commentary. Very revealing insight into the author's work. I don't think you can really appreciate Kafka until you read about his life. He was lonely, depressed, self conscious and in love with someone who didn't love him. He never published in his lifetime but wanted his work destroyed. And, it shows how his work is insightful political commentary.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sissel

    I think 75% of his entries are about not being able to write, but it was interesting to read about his writing PROCESS. (HAH? GET IT? No of course you don't, it's just 'The Trial' is translated as 'The Process' in Norwegian and I've been working on this joke for the entirety of me reading this book *sigh*) I think 75% of his entries are about not being able to write, but it was interesting to read about his writing PROCESS. (HAH? GET IT? No of course you don't, it's just 'The Trial' is translated as 'The Process' in Norwegian and I've been working on this joke for the entirety of me reading this book *sigh*)

  15. 4 out of 5

    cherrybracelets

    sexy and smart people get depressed too :(

  16. 5 out of 5

    michal k-c

    Probably a book only for people who are already big Kafka fans. Can't see anyone being converted by reading page after page of "July 15th. Slept horribly again". Luckily for me Kafka is one of my all-time favourite writers. Life writing has never been my preferred genre, so parts started to drag, but it contains some real gems. Beyond being the spot to find Kafka's most direct writings on Judaism, most of the anecdotes included fly directly in the face of most of the persisting Kafka mythos (mos Probably a book only for people who are already big Kafka fans. Can't see anyone being converted by reading page after page of "July 15th. Slept horribly again". Luckily for me Kafka is one of my all-time favourite writers. Life writing has never been my preferred genre, so parts started to drag, but it contains some real gems. Beyond being the spot to find Kafka's most direct writings on Judaism, most of the anecdotes included fly directly in the face of most of the persisting Kafka mythos (mostly the idea that he was anti-social).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    What better time to read Kafka's self-lacerating diaries than during a pandemic? These diaries are fascinating for their revelations, indications of the breadth of Kafka's talent and thought and honesty, but perhaps most of all for the view they offer of an artist in a semi-permanant state of major clinical depression. Set against Kafka's almost spare fictional fables, so splendidly true to their fundamental narrative concepts, never straying into unnecessary detail or ambivalence in their propos What better time to read Kafka's self-lacerating diaries than during a pandemic? These diaries are fascinating for their revelations, indications of the breadth of Kafka's talent and thought and honesty, but perhaps most of all for the view they offer of an artist in a semi-permanant state of major clinical depression. Set against Kafka's almost spare fictional fables, so splendidly true to their fundamental narrative concepts, never straying into unnecessary detail or ambivalence in their propositions of pain, horror, and existential frustration, his diaries reveal a writer who captured and recorded everything as he lived in his life--the shade of green of a woman's hat to the cheeriness of a little girl's smile to the morbid reflections of a stymied writer on the edge of self-destruction. Here we have more or less exactly the unhappy Kafka one would imagine him to be if we only knew his stories and novels...and yet we also glimpse traces of the artist who, once he had found the key to a story, unlocked all its doors with ease. As the diaries reveal, the problem for him as a person was that often he couldn't write or just as often he would begin a story with a sketch in his diary, beautifully written and promising, that he would abandon. The diaries are littered with his efforts to get something going and losing faith. This, if it needs to be said, is typical of the experiences of most writers, if not all writers. Something whispers in your ear, you write a few pages, it disintegrates, won't go anywhere, can't go anywhere, was a bad idea. Kafka may be the best example of a writer who wrote so close to his unconscious, his dreamworld, that he always was in danger of waking up before he got to the end of telling the tale. We can see here that Kafka was at least three persons: 1) a very smart and well-educated individual with a fine sense of irony and a goodly array of social and artistic contacts; 3) a horribly self-doubting, shy, angry man who suffered headaches, insomnia, stomach problems and a general sense of malaise; 3) a writer who, when he was in firm contact with his vision of a story, could render the complexities of his psycho-social world as compactly and powerfully as anyone. Add to the three points above Kafka's difficulties with relationships, notably with his overbearing father but perhaps more importantly with women. He was twice engaged to marry Felice Bauer, convinced that despite his negative first impression, she would provide him with a stable, comforting home life and yet, at the same time, fully aware that he didn't really connect with her and she didn't really connect with him. The diary entries about Felice are perplexing because they never really make clear why they were engaged in the first place. The diaries also reflect the degree to which Kafka was concerned with his Jewishness and with Judaism in Europe and Palestine (Zionism). One might think that an artist of Kafka's other-worldly caliber would be above ethnicity or religion. His fictions can be read as transcendent crises applicable to almost any modern individual, but he was attentive--could not be otherwise--to his social and religious context. Kafka's parables speak to the loneliness of a Jew in Prague while at the same time spotlighting the loneliness--the alienation--of everyone in Europe in the 20th century when almost all the traditional structures of state and economic and cultural power were disintegrating. When you read these diaries, you do have to wonder if modern therapies and pharmaceuticals could alleviate the agonies of a Kafka without at the same time destroying his literary genius. I tend to think that someone like him could be interrupted in his depressions and neuroses but not stabilized, that he would find a way to outwit feeling better. The forces at work in this man were physical, psychological and literary and they also were social and political--broadly speaking, cultural--and he knew this. Only Kafka could resolve his conflicts, and only Kafka, during the moments when he was able to unburden himself in a story, could bring Kafka brief, too brief, spells of peace.

  18. 4 out of 5

    prashant

    wow he’s literally me so many quotes but here are some of my faves: “my condition is not unhappiness, but is also not happiness, not indifference, not weakness, not fatigue, not another interest - so what is it then?” “being alone has a power over me that never fails. my interior dissolves (for the time being only superficially) and is ready to release what lies deeper.” “it is enough that the arrows fit exactly in the wounds that they have made” “the tremendous world i have in my head. but how free wow he’s literally me so many quotes but here are some of my faves: “my condition is not unhappiness, but is also not happiness, not indifference, not weakness, not fatigue, not another interest - so what is it then?” “being alone has a power over me that never fails. my interior dissolves (for the time being only superficially) and is ready to release what lies deeper.” “it is enough that the arrows fit exactly in the wounds that they have made” “the tremendous world i have in my head. but how free myself and free it without being torn to pieces…”

  19. 5 out of 5

    Claudio Saavedra

    I started reading the Kafka diaries with motive of a trip that took me to the Czech Republic and gave me a chance to spend a few days in Prague by myself. Having been enough times in Prague to want to play the tourist again and feeling a uncontainable need to dig further into Kafka's mind --perhaps motivated by the reading of many works by Enrique Vila-Matas where the Diaries are quoted over and over-- I decided to fetch this book from the public library in Helsinki and let myself get lost in th I started reading the Kafka diaries with motive of a trip that took me to the Czech Republic and gave me a chance to spend a few days in Prague by myself. Having been enough times in Prague to want to play the tourist again and feeling a uncontainable need to dig further into Kafka's mind --perhaps motivated by the reading of many works by Enrique Vila-Matas where the Diaries are quoted over and over-- I decided to fetch this book from the public library in Helsinki and let myself get lost in the Prague where Kafka spent most of his life. The heat was unbearable during most of these August days, and I walked and sweated more than I managed to read, but the trip and the diaries, both, have turned my understanding of Kafka's genius in a fascinating direction. A man suffering from a weak phyisical condition that kept him ill more often than not, depriving him from strength for anything that he would deem important; a man who spent restless nights tormented by what he himself considered an unability to actually properly write or to write at all; a man frustrated by his relationship with his family; a man haunted by such a vivid imagination that even his dreams and nightmares would not let him in peace; a man whose relationship with women and sex was so full of contradictions and yet was beyond the intensity that his own body and minde were able to bear: all of this combined in a brief but fruitful span of perhaps 15 years at most is what makes for the violent mix that fueled Kafka's creative genius. How else could, back in the days when Realism predominated literature, turning oneself into a gigant insect-like creature would have been even a possibility, if it wasn't for the uncountable nightmares and dreams of Kafka's nights? But not only an insight into Kafka's mind is to be found in these diaries. Not only an understanding of his suffering. There are also plenty of wonderful observations of his everyday life. Descriptions so vivid and intense of the most mundane situations that one can only admire: Kafka was not only a genius in his creativity but also in his written accounting of the world. If this was not enough, there are plenty of sketches of what later became full-literary works and many other sketches that, unfinished, unpolished, and all, sometimes even in single paragraphs still account for more literary genius than one can find in entire novels. The diaries are not easy to read, that must be cleared out. They demand fierce strength and above all, patience with the tormented writer. The many depressing paragraphs can wear one down at times. Yet these diaries deserve careful reading by anyone seriously interested in literature, the mind of a genius, and the origin of anything Kafkaesque.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

    I was haunted and sleepless. This book shouldn’t be rated as a usual book. It’s just diaries, personal belongings, and we swallow them in as our own belongings now. Franz bequeathed these to his good friend Max Brod with instructions to burn them. Max published them instead. This breaks my heart. I think of this as an equivocal act. Undoubtedly we can never be more grateful to him but Kafka never had his way, even at the time of his death. The diaries are a combination of relatively straightforw I was haunted and sleepless. This book shouldn’t be rated as a usual book. It’s just diaries, personal belongings, and we swallow them in as our own belongings now. Franz bequeathed these to his good friend Max Brod with instructions to burn them. Max published them instead. This breaks my heart. I think of this as an equivocal act. Undoubtedly we can never be more grateful to him but Kafka never had his way, even at the time of his death. The diaries are a combination of relatively straightforward observations from his weary life, musings on various subjects close to home, beginnings or workings of stories and internal monologues spilled onto paper. Given the brilliant eeriness of his stories, the diaries reveal a connected bridge of a fundamental anguish and insecurity. As my favourite author, I think I‘m starting to love him more. I wish to have him answer a few of my curiosities. I often wonder what he might think of his popularity after death. Had he only been loved this much when he was alive.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Crowley

    A special work to be read and re-read, just for the intimacy to be gained with him, and his mind and emotions, and the experiences that affect him and influence him most directly. He is always there, I feel, just within arm's reach, when I need someone to turn to when I'm feeling down or delicate in ways he might have. I can wallow with him, I can be reassured, and thus move on. In his diaries is some of his greatest writing because of how close he draws us into his life, sometimes with just a v A special work to be read and re-read, just for the intimacy to be gained with him, and his mind and emotions, and the experiences that affect him and influence him most directly. He is always there, I feel, just within arm's reach, when I need someone to turn to when I'm feeling down or delicate in ways he might have. I can wallow with him, I can be reassured, and thus move on. In his diaries is some of his greatest writing because of how close he draws us into his life, sometimes with just a very few clean strokes of the pen. (Literally, too: take a look at his sketches included.)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lorraine

    The only thing which prevented this from getting 5 stars was my own idiosyncracy. I dislike having to read works-in-progress in diaries -- I want commentary on the work instead. And gossip :P Thus I prefer Woolf's diaries. But Kafka has the third eye, and when he sees he penetrates to the heart of the matter. It is sorta scary yet liberating. The ability to view a world which we cannot see, which is the very foundation upon which the world which we can see exists... The only thing which prevented this from getting 5 stars was my own idiosyncracy. I dislike having to read works-in-progress in diaries -- I want commentary on the work instead. And gossip :P Thus I prefer Woolf's diaries. But Kafka has the third eye, and when he sees he penetrates to the heart of the matter. It is sorta scary yet liberating. The ability to view a world which we cannot see, which is the very foundation upon which the world which we can see exists...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Safwan Hossain

    The Diaries of Franz Kafka reveal him to not just be the disturbing and clever author, but a genuine philosopher in his own right. Because he never published huge opus of philosophy, he is completely overlooked. The book reveals that Kafka was not only the one-dimensional character of the disturbed, alienated, and melancholic man that contemporary literary analysis presents him as, but a person with a complexity of feeling, humor, and distinct moments of happiness and joy

  24. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    Just like any complete letters or diaries, this one offers interesting insights into Kafka’s process and nicely debunks the myth of him as a writer scribbling away in a sealed room avoiding all human contact. And then there’s the other half I would have preferred to have pared away in a critical text.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Napolsky

    Not as good as his fiction but still fascinating stuff. Worth the read if you really like Kafka. Probably not if you're so-so about him. Not as good as his fiction but still fascinating stuff. Worth the read if you really like Kafka. Probably not if you're so-so about him.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Satyajeet

    Kafka writing that he can't write is better writing than most writers out there. Kafka writing that he can't write is better writing than most writers out there.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Arun Singh

    Imagine perceiving the world through the eyes of an writer whose work has affected you so deeply that you have dreamt about those stories!! Kafka is genius in his literary work and most human in his non-fiction works. His diaries are record of a human being trying to find his place in a society which is going through a turmoil and that is reflected in his works too. The impending danger of war, industrialization, books, theatre, religion, family life, love, loneliness and dreams - Kafka is affect Imagine perceiving the world through the eyes of an writer whose work has affected you so deeply that you have dreamt about those stories!! Kafka is genius in his literary work and most human in his non-fiction works. His diaries are record of a human being trying to find his place in a society which is going through a turmoil and that is reflected in his works too. The impending danger of war, industrialization, books, theatre, religion, family life, love, loneliness and dreams - Kafka is affected by everything and sometimes he is so much restricted that he can only write one line in response to events of whole day. Witness the life of a genius in his own words where the subtle magic is happening inside and outside at the same time. Don't judge him, he is human and that too a genius one who just wanted to produce his best work. **Only for serious readers and read it after reading all of his fiction.**

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ciprian Cretu

    Boring with small and occasional pieces of EXCELLENT writing, especially: - in those fragments dealing with one's reasons for keeping a diary - to "become aware with reassuring clarity of the changes which you constantly suffer", in Kafka's own words. - when writing about his depression and feelings of despair (caused by the progressive ravages of the tuberculosis within his body, as we now know). * References to such feelings ABOUND throughout the text. - EXCRUCIATING EXISTENTIAL CRISIS and ALIENA Boring with small and occasional pieces of EXCELLENT writing, especially: - in those fragments dealing with one's reasons for keeping a diary - to "become aware with reassuring clarity of the changes which you constantly suffer", in Kafka's own words. - when writing about his depression and feelings of despair (caused by the progressive ravages of the tuberculosis within his body, as we now know). * References to such feelings ABOUND throughout the text. - EXCRUCIATING EXISTENTIAL CRISIS and ALIENATION! - ANXIETY 100% Varia: Kafka writes A LOT about Yiddish theatre, meetings and talks with his friends (the same people over and over again), walks in his favorite places from Prague, encounters with many of his relatives. There are also fragments from his short stories written in the Diaries, but their fragmented state and chronological distribution (a few pages here, and then daily notes about random stuff, and finally the story resumes 20 pages later) account for a burdensome reading process.

  29. 5 out of 5

    D

    I was not pulled in by these diary entries. In fact, a bit repulsed. Self-absorbed and a bit misogynistic. I write this very decidedly out of despair over my body and over a future with this body. I passed by the brother as though past the house of a beloved. Writers speak a stench. [1910] Night of comets, 17-18 May. Abschied von der Jugend - Farewell to Youth 27 May Today is your birthday, but I'm not even sending you the usual book, for it would be only pretence; at bottom I am after all not even in I was not pulled in by these diary entries. In fact, a bit repulsed. Self-absorbed and a bit misogynistic. I write this very decidedly out of despair over my body and over a future with this body. I passed by the brother as though past the house of a beloved. Writers speak a stench. [1910] Night of comets, 17-18 May. Abschied von der Jugend - Farewell to Youth 27 May Today is your birthday, but I'm not even sending you the usual book, for it would be only pretence; at bottom I am after all not even in a position to give you a book. I am writing only because it is so necessary for me today to be near you for a moment, even though it be only by means of this card, and I have begun with the complaint only so that you may recognize me at once. 24 October. Mother works all day, is merry and sad as the fancy strikes her, without taking advantage of her own condition in the slightest, her voice is clear, too loud for ordinary speech but does you good when you are sad and suddenly hear it after some time. How bruised the actors appeared to me after the performance, how I feared to touch them with a word. In order not to forget it, should my father once again call me a bad son, I write it down that, in the presence of several relatives, without special occasion, whether it may have been simply to put me in my place, whether it was supposedly to rescue me, he called Max a 'meshuggener ritoch (crazy hothead).' Before falling asleep. It seems so dreadful to be a bachelor, to become an old man struggling to keep one's dignity while begging for an invitation whenever one wants to spend an evening in company, having to carry one's meal home in one's hand, unable to expect anyone with a lazy sense of calm confidence, able only with difficulty and vexation to give a gift to someone, having to say good night at the front door, never being able to run up a stairway beside one's wife, to lie ill and have only the solace of the view from one's window when one can sit up, to have only side-doors in one's room leading into other people's living-rooms, to feel estranged from one's family, with whom one can keep on close terms only by marriage...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Louis

    This journal is not an easy one to review. Although hard to put down, I skimmed huge parts of this journal. For the most part, it consists of story fragments without conclusion. I suspect they more than anything set the mood Kafka found himself in. They didn't work for me: they seemed so haphazardly put down, that reading them did nothing for me, there didn't seem much purpose to them. What constitutes - at least for me - the true gold in this collection is Kafka's reflections on life, and more pa This journal is not an easy one to review. Although hard to put down, I skimmed huge parts of this journal. For the most part, it consists of story fragments without conclusion. I suspect they more than anything set the mood Kafka found himself in. They didn't work for me: they seemed so haphazardly put down, that reading them did nothing for me, there didn't seem much purpose to them. What constitutes - at least for me - the true gold in this collection is Kafka's reflections on life, and more particularly the negative, the despair, his tendency towards depression. Truly intriguing, also bc I can find myself in his descriptions. What that says about me, I dare not say. Some examples: "Should I be grateful or should I curse the fact that despite all misfortune I can still feel love, an unearthly love but still for earthly objects." (p. 109) "In periods of transition such as the past week has been for me and as this moment at least still is, a sad but calm astonishment at my lack of feeling often grips me. I am divided from all things by a hollow space and I don't even push myself to the limits of it."

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