Kafka did not really live in this tiny house on this narrow lane – his sister did.
And she did not really live in this tiny house on this narrow lane – she rented it so she could have a place to meet her lover in secret.
The secret was necessary because her lover was a Christian.
So the house was vacant most of the time.
Enter Kafka. He started to go there (at the suggestion of his sister) so he could have a place to be alone. Otherwise he would be with his parents, which was not conducive to either his (or his sister’s) desires.
He never stayed the night, but was there most evenings for months. He wrote a whole book of short stories in his book The Country Doctor while there.
I set a third of my novel about Kafka in this tiny house.
I’ve visited it.
Peered from the windows.
Looked up the stairs.
Ducked in the doorway.
When I was there while the country was still under Communist control, it was a book store.
But – Kafka being Kafkaesque long after death – none of his books were displayed.From Kafka In The Castle
02 November 1917
I walked to Alchemist Lane this afternoon. It is not really a part of Prague – high and removed by its ninety-eight steps. A cold, clear day – much like the day a year ago when I accompanied Ottla on her mad little quest to see it. But not (as I had thought) for the first time. In fact, she had already rented it – something I’ve only learned these past few weeks. She had wished my approval, but she didn’t need my approval. I am glad of that.
It was strange entering the courtyards, and passing beneath the spires of the cathedral. But stranger still was to stand at the mouth of the Lane itself, and look along its length. I could have been away for years, or returning to resume yesterday’s thoughts. I felt both. It was if I were at the station, but not knowing if I were arriving on one train, or departing upon another.
The narrow lane was deserted, so I walked along its length slowly. There were new curtains on the windows of my little house. When I returned, I did pause before my old door, and glanced between the curtains to see that all of my furniture had been removed. Much as their owner.