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Kafka's letters to Felice Bauer were written between 1912 and 1917, during which time they were twice engaged to be married. This complex relationship, which coincided with a period of great productivity for Kafka, gave him both hope and strength, but gradually disllusionment and the onset of illness drove them apart. These letters remain as a monument to the inner life of a creative artist.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780749399481
ISBN-10: 0749399481
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 33mm)
Pages: 608
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 16-Apr-1992
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » Kafka's letters to Felice Bauer provide a highly personal insight into a complex man. Written between 1912 and 1917, they cover the entire period of their relationship during which they were twice engaged to be married. Collected in this way, the letters have the form and direction of a novel, albeit a somewhat tragic one, and following the gradual fraying of their bond is a powerful, quite voyeuristic experience. As Kafka's emotional and physical health decayed so did their relationship; he tellingly confesses in one letter: 'My manner of writing is not crazy in itself, but as crazy as my present way of life.' (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Kafka, in August 1912, was almost thirty when he met Felice Bauer, a 25 year-old executive secretary from Berlin who was visiting his native Prague. This letter-box love affair ("the distance to Berlin is by no means so hard to bear as the height separating him from you") endured two broken engagements before terminating in December 1917. This collection consists largely of letters Franz sent to Felice - her half has apparently disappeared - for the most part up through 1914 (when the first engagement was broken off) and during that year to Greta. Bloch, a common acquaintance whom Kafka used as a confidante. Although these were the years that Kafka wrote the draft of Amerika, Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony and began The Trial he is more concerned with Felice's inadequacies as a correspondent, and his own fear of family ties ("I have often thought that the best mode of life for me would be to sit in the innermost room in a spacious locked cellar with my writing things and a lamp"). "I seek solitude," Kafka wrote "not so much to live quietly but to die quietly." He deceived himself and others ("only when Kafka dwells in his writing does he dwell in his truth" the editors remark in the introduction); outwardly he was a businessman, dutiful son, lover and would-be husband. Although the sketchy correspondence of the later years does not permit us to know why the couple - after Kafka was diagnosed as tubercular - began and ended their last engagement, there are valuable insights into Kafka as artist and tormented man who - by his own admission - knew "but three possibilities - to burst forth, collapse or pine away." (Kirkus Reviews)


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