Franz Kafka inches toward being dead for 100 years.He died on this day, 03 June, in 1924. he did not go gently into that good night, though he probably was just as happy to be gone. It was difficult to satisfy Kafka,
I wonder what Kafka would think about the worldwide communication and information of today. He was a rigid fixture of the staid (he hated using the telephone). He also was a keen observer of the world around him (he wrote the first newspaper report about aeroplanes, and he invented the safety helmet). It was more this deep divide in his personality which caused him his problems, about which he so famously wrote.
He did not fit into his personal world, yet he fit into the real world perfectly. He was adored by his friends and by many ladies. He was respected at his work and rose to a position of power. His stories were published to acclaim in his lifetime.
Kafka lived a Kafkaesque life. He died a Kafkaesque death (he caught tuberculosis because he drank “pure” unpasteurised cow’s milk). He was rigid in his personal beliefs (until proved wrong), yet he was a beacon of compassion to others.
Kafka was always on a tightrope. He looked at things with such accuracy that his comments can seem bizarre. Supposedly his last words were: “Kill me, or you are a murderer.” They were to his doctor, as Kafka beseeches for an overdose of morphine.
I have written much about Kafka. I will share but two.
This is the diary entry I had him write in my fictional novel “Kafka In The Castle”:
03 July 1917
The anniversary of my birth. In honour of the day, I do not make it my last.
And this is a short story.
The old Rabbi moved slightly on his bed, and the young man raced over.
The old Rabbi opened his eyes, showing the cast of death which had almost consumed him. “Ka … ” he groaned.
The young man had been told the dying Rabbi would never regain his senses, and he did not know what to do. He was scared, almost horrified, but he leaned closer.
“What is it? What do you want?”
The old Rabbi struggled for breath. “Ka … Kaf …”
The young man gazed at the face, saw its pallid features and the clouded eyes. He touched a shrunken cheek, raised his voice to a shout. “What is it? What can I do?” He could hear wheezing, the struggle for air. He put his ear directly over the gaping mouth.
“Ka … Ka …” One last ragged breath, a low hollow whisper. “Kafka died for your sins.”