In Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the ‘missing’ diary entries from Kafka’s real diary. He either did not fill in these days himself, or he destroyed them. There are some estimates that Kafka destroyed 70% – 80% of everything he wrote.
Kafka’s father gets a bad (and unwarranted) rap from Kafka and history. Hermann Kafka was emotionally distant, and devoted his life to his business (at which he was very successful). But he did this as much for his family, as for any other reason. He had come from hardship, poverty and want, and he wished different for his children. As long as they didn’t get in his way.
01 January 1917
There was a cloud caught in the branches of a tree today, outside my parents home. Or so it appeared. I got up from the cot and went to tell Ottla, but she was clearing the kitchen, tending to the dishes.
So I was radical, unthinking – driven by haste – and told the only one not consumed by labour. I told my father.
“In the trees?” he asked.
I propelled him from his chair, thrusting the papers aside. He followed me, and I could see the surprise on his face.
“Where?” he asked; and I pointed out the window. “But I see nothing.”
“Oh, you have to lie on the cot.”
“On the cot?”
“And with your head just so.”
I pushed him onto it, and he lay, looking sideways.
“But you are right,” he said.
I thought, because of the holiday, he might be humouring me, but then I saw that his jaw hung open, and his face was astonished.
Does the boy never grow, that he can feel so good to be vindicated by his father?