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Franz Kafka Exposed In His Newly Translated Unexpurgated Diary

Franz Kafka  has just had an updated version of his Diaries translated and released in English.

Of course, he is being touted as a rather naughty fellow, with various sexual observations (and perhaps desires) revealed. Comments about gentlemen’s private members seem to lead the reviews (much as reviews of Prince Harry’s Spare were quick to point out his frostbitten, er, Willie).

It really took a more free-wheeling translation to show Kafka was a very sexual (and sexy) fellow. He liked the ladies, had numerous lovers, and enjoyed the paid ministrations of  – as he referred to them – ‘shop girls’. His last lover had to be restrained from leaping into his open grave.

None of this is really new. I have read all of his diaries published before this edition. Most of it was already there.

The editor of his diaries was his best friend, Max Brod. Brod also removed references to Kafka’s real opinions about his contemporaries. And other socially doubtful observations.

I have written a book, Kafka In The Castle, where I fill in all of the diary entries missing from his diaries, imagining what he might have been doing on those days. As it is assumed that Kafka, himself, destroyed about 80% of all his own writings, it is assumed he destroyed these entries himself.

I don’t know what this new addition might do for my Kafka manuscript. But, as they say, any publicity is good publicity – it’s publicity.

Here is a link to an interview with the translator of the new diaries:

https://slate.com/culture/2023/01/kafka-diaries-uncensored-homoerotic-ross-benjamin-interview.html

And below are entries from my manuscript.

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07 December 1916

                Max takes the fact I always tell the truth as a virtue. He takes my protestations as a virtue. But I am capable of nothing else. Max even says he is envious of me, and I actually laughed in his face. Me, so envious of everyone living their real lives. He was much taken by surprise.

08 December 1916

                 I have not admitted something to Max. It is the closest I come to lying – not saying everything I think. So I have not told him I see envy on the faces of many people. Even my father. It is a power which I do not want. A power which frightens me. 

17 May 1917

           Dreamed I was in Florence, after a long train journey. I was supposed to meet M. upon the bridge with all the goldsmith shops. I had the feeling we had chosen the place as an equivalent to the Alchemist’s Lane. And as I walked along the river, it was indeed Prague I saw on the other shore. I wondered if I might be in this tiny house, scratching out these words upon the page – this page. But I continued toward the bridge, and tried to ignore the Prague of my dreams. Much as in real life.

     The bridge was in a precarious state, the abutments pocked and stained. Mortar fell away in handfuls. I looked up to see M. standing at the top of the steps. There were double handrails made of gold, and the steps themselves seemed burnished with use. “Hurry,” she implored, leaning toward me and pointing to the river. This movement deepened the cleavage between her generous breasts, and I was distracted. I imagined my hand slipping beneath the confines of her blouse, and my fingers retrieving a heated nugget of gold. But finally I turned to where she was pointing, and saw that the river was nearly at my heels. I moved adroitly, and was soon standing beside her. “Must you meet me in such a place?” I asked. “It’s your dream. And, you weren’t so concerned a minute ago.”  “But we’re here for the gold?” I asked.  “No.” She took my hand. “We’re here for the view.”

     She led me into one of the shops where the goldsmiths were shaping sheets of gold around molds, tiny hammers going tap tap tap across the rich, dull surface. I could smell the scent of warm gold from between her breasts. I wanted to taste it, going flick flick flick with the tip of my tongue. Yet another button had unhooked from the strain, and I could glimpse the gold piece, damp with sweat. “Are you after my treasure?” asked M. “Even if we are in Florence,” I said, feeling very clever with myself, “that doesn’t mean all the treasures are ones of art.” M. was kind enough to smile. She then gestured. “Look – to left and right.”

     As I looked from one bank of the river to the other, I saw that the cities were vying for my attention. Florence was bowing on my left, while Prague was undulating from the right. The buildings shook, the towers nodded, and the river tore between. At my side, M. was joining in with a dance of her own, her nearly exposed breasts swaying with little restraint. “You’re not helping,” I said. “You watch what you want,” she replied. The river was now so turbulent that music escaped from the waves, and the two cities attempted to outdo each other. Florence beckoned with the raised steps of a gavotte, while Prague hipswung with the new American jazz. “Which city?” asked M., her hair in a swirl, and the last button defeated. “Which city is to be your partner?” And my eyes left her wild hair and the flashing nugget of gold, and I stepped onto the river, its music around my knees. And I held out my hands toward Prague.

20 May 1917

           But of course, it was just a dream.

Kafka Takes Praise With – Not A Grain – But A Bag Of Salt

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in **missing** diary entries from Kafka’s real diary. He either did not fill in these days himself, or he destroyed them. It is estimated Kafka destroyed 70% – 80% of everything he wrote. I am as accurate as I can be with the timeline.

++++++++++++++++++++++

12 January 1917

I have heard that Max has been praising me again. Excessively.

He not only praises my scribbling, but also imbues me with the fortitude and honesty of the Christian saints. He will next want me to open my own rabbinical school.

It is neither easy nor expedient to be honest, and causes much resentment. People do like to know they can trust you, but are generally wary about the truth.

Especially if it is truth about them.     

Particularly if it is my truth about them.

It is generally acceptable however, to be truthful about other people.

Yes, my writings are the truth – a total truth. But, I do not know how to write any other way.

I may as well be praised for being born with two arms and black hair, my choice in the matter is the same.

Franz Kafka Ponders On New Year’s Eve

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. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

31 December 1916

The festivities down in the city are certainly subdued, which makes me one with the coming of the year. There were a few shots fired into the air – which is a mockery, considering what is happening in the world. And some dismal fireworks.

Max wanted me at his party, but even he saw little point in celebration, and his entreaties were totally for form.

I understand form quite well – most of my life consists of doing the expected.

Mouthing the proper words.

My letters to Felice have turned to such vehicles of propriety.

In such a way do all our days, and then our lives, acquire the necessary postmarks.

Kafka Warms Himself With His Own Manuscripts

My novel. Kafka In The Castle, fills in Kafka’s missing diary entries. This is how I imagine Kafka’s best friend, Max Brod, reacts to one of the many times Kafka burned his own manuscripts.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

19 April 1917

Max was horrified when I told him about last night.

“You burned your stories? Are you crazy?”

“I wrote them, so I must be.”

He smiled at that. Max’s anger can be easily deflected, for it is never deep. Max is a very good man, and cares for me more than I do myself.

“And the novel? The Amerika novel?”

I told him that many chapters of that must have been burned. Probably right from the start – they were no doubt the first things I grabbed from the chair.  “Anything else?”

“There were a couple of plays. I remember pages of dialogue.”

Max’s voice became hollow. He might no longer be angry, but neither was he happy. “I didn’t know you had written any plays. You have secrets even from me.”

“I keep secrets from myself. Don’t be offended.”

“What else?”

I could picture him writing down an inventory.

“Some diary entries – those were deliberate.”

“And was that the end of your pyromaniac obsession?”

“Of my own work – yes.”

He looked at me questioningly – he didn’t need another secret.

“There were a couple of bundles of letters from Felice. Neatly tied with string. They burned slowly. I have not had such warmth from her for a long time.”

One Small Step For . . .

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in **missing** diary entries from Kafka’s real diary. He either did not fill in these days himself, or he destroyed them. It is estimated Kafka destroyed 70% – 80% of everything he wrote

March 1917

               A trail of wet footprints across one of the court yards. Tiny footprints. A child’s. Perhaps a woman’s. Starting and stopping as if out of nothing and into nowhere. She must have walked through a puddle, or some melting snow. This little waltz by an invisible dancer. I held out my arms, a partner at last.

Kafka Changes His Life By Leaving His Old Life Behind

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

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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.

Me And The Queen or is that The Queen And I

Don’t get me wrong – Her Majesty didn’t even know I existed. Didn’t know my name. Couldn’t have picked me out of a lineup.

But, Her Majesty has been a constant and strong part of my life. This was aided and abetted by the fact that my Canadian father was a staunch monarchist (he volunteered for the Canadian army at 31 years of age to defend England from Germany. My mother was an English war bride. The monarchy was in their blood.

I’ve had five live views of Queen Elizabeth.

During my first, as a child, I got lost in the crowds who were also present. I confess I don’t actually remember ‘seeing’ the Queen. She was in a cluster of people in the far distance. But, I am rather proud that I was able to find my way back to our hotel on my own.

At university the Queen visited the campus to have a meal. I saw her pass in a motorcade.

My most significant encounter (which I will class as an encounter) happened when she visited the provincial legislature. I managed to get close to the main entrance of the building and hoped to take pictures. I did not succeed with the photos, but realized I was not far from the Royal car. I moved to stand near it and wait for her to leave.

When Ii saw The Queen leave the building, I got as close to the car and waited. I was not watching her progress, but was trained on the car door she would enter. Just as I saw her walking toward the car, I put my eye to the view screen. (No iPhones in those days). She just came into view when someone walked right in front of me. I looked up, ready to say something rather negative. It was Prince Philip.

Next time, the Queen was to unveil a monument in a historic park. I thought I got there in plenty of time, but the crowds were five deep. But I did see her.

And, finally, the Queen was in Halifax Nova Scotia for the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy. The ceremony was on National television. I was able to watch a good deal of it on TV, then gauged when the ceremony would be coming to a close. It was a long event, with a Naval pass by of many ships.  I got down to the harbour, knowing which dock the Queen’s ship would tie up to. But, not only did thousands of other folk know this, but the Security Services had created a No Go Zone near that dock. I did see her. but just as she came down the gangplank in the far distance.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In fiction, Her Majesty has graced two of my novels. Yes, I will relate one such encounter from Being Famous.

The soup bowls, with their attendant spoons and plates, are whisked away from all the tables, and conversations begin to occur throughout the room. Now the woman to ST’s right leans toward him. As a vase of flowers partially obscures her place name, he can only tell that she is Lady Holmes hyphen.

     “I’m very interested in your work.”

     “It’s interesting work to do.”

     “But then – “

     Lady Holmes hyphen leans very close to ST, revealing an intriguing décolleté, and breath which indicates the wine steward has not been her only source of wine this evening. 

     ” – perhaps interest in your work can be taken to extremes.”

     “You haven’t written a book, have you?” ST’s smile is moderately genuine.

     “Not about Space/Time.” Lady Holmes hyphen adjusts her gown in a manner which actually reveals more flesh. “And it has yet to be published.” She could not be offering more if she held a serving plate beneath her breasts. “I wouldn’t mind your help on a chapter or two.”

     ST is not without interest. He is spared the task of making any response, when a hand from off stage of the lady’s right is laid heavily on the wrist of his conversational partner. With a sigh and a shrug (which causes interesting motion within the revealing gown), she swivels away.

     “Are you enjoying yourself?”

     “Yes, Ma’am.” ST turns toward her voice.

     “Good.” There is a rustle of napkin across the Royal knee. “Although I do hope the poor girl doesn’t catch a chill.”

     The next item on the menu – and ST notes they have yet to hit the main course – is Berner Rosti, upon which sits a quail’s egg and a teaspoon of caviar. Does one scoop up the caviar on its own, or does one mix it about with the potato and the egg?

     ST decides he would like the taste of the caviar to be exclusive, so he pushes it onto the plate, and consumes the rest of the dish. Then, with a (fresh) glass of white wine to wash it down, he savours the salty sea taste.

     “It meets with your approval?”

     “Yes, Ma’am.”

     “It is Oestrova caviar. A subtle difference from the Beluga.” 

     “Ma’am?”

     “Yes.”

     “Has Your Majesty ever had golden caviar?”

     ST has asked a question.

     Not only is this a breach of Royal etiquette, but did he not himself advise her bare weeks ago to rein in the Royal answer to questions. Still, he is almost the guest of honour, and it really could have been a bomb. And her own royal wine steward does nothing to hamper his quest to alleviate his thirst. A thirst (he could point out, if asked) exaggerated by the consumption of caviar. 

     “A taste to remember.” She looks down somewhat wistfully at her plate.

     “I have long wondered, Ma’am. Does golden caviar actually possess the colour of gold?”

     “Oh, yes.” She glances at him. “It is a most exquisite shimmering gold” A small smile crosses her face. “It outshines the gold pot in which it is served.”

     “I must say, Ma’am, it sounds exceptional.”

     “Yes, it is.” She places her hands in her lap. “The last which we received came from President Gorbachev.” She again sits back as her plate is removed. “Isn’t it strange how people come and go?”

     The main course is Canon de Venaison Farci Sauce Fines Herbes.

     Bambi.

     ST would like to leave his place, scurry down the length of chairs, give Howard a jovial pat on the back (or a nudge in the ribs) and point this out to him. Admittedly, it is neither a steak nor a chop, but a whole saddle of venison, stuffed and sauced. Still – a hunk of deer is a hunk of deer.

     But, he decides it would be unwise to even glance in Howard’s direction.

     Accompanying the venison, along with the Pommes Nouvelles, are Courgettes Farcies A La Mingrelienne. This poses a mild problem for ST, for he is not fond of zucchini, no matter how they are stuffed or cooked.

     For some reason, this particular deficiency of his palette was a great failing in the eyes of wife number two. And, although she is not present to point out his shortcomings, he decides to follow what he knows would be her preference, and eat them down without hesitation.

     Is this not why God created wine?

     And anyway, the venison makes up for everything.

     It is as he finishes his last mouthful of stuffed zucchini (the fennel makes it almost palatable), that a Royal hand is placed close to his own. He immediately turns.

     “We shall introduce you before the cheese.”

     “Yes, Ma’am.” ST glances at the menu, and notes he will precede the Baked Brie in Puff Pastry. 

     “We shall be brief.”

     “Ma’am.”

     “It is customary for you to then say a few words.”

     “As few as possible, Ma’am.”

     “You return to America tomorrow?”

     “The first flight of the Concorde.”

     “I would like to express my thanks for your advice.” She leans ever-so-slightly closer to him. “There has been a decided lack of errant Windsor tales in the media.”

     “The power of the closed mouth, Ma’am.” ST gives a brief smile. “Silence can be as golden as caviar.”

     “And as rewarding.” She smiles in return. “Also, please accept our additional thanks for being here tonight.”

     “My pleasure, Ma’am.” ST suddenly laughs. “Happy to fill the space.”

     “Well put.” The Queen unexpectedly laughs also, causing some heads to turn. “We are relieved that you had the time.”

Six Ex-Wives Meet At A Dead Husband’s Funeral

EXCERPT FROM “There Was A Time When The Stones Were Not So Smooth”

#1-and-only husband has – in truth – not fared well under the ministrations of the Undertaker. Yes, she would recognize him, but she would wonder if he had died of some wasting disease. Perhaps the effects of the gas poisoning produced changes, though Alison Alexandra assumes the whole dying-in-your-sleep thing would make you look at peace. Perhaps he had not been found for quite a while. These are not questions she is going to ask, but he would have been annoyed about the way he looks. He was not a vain man – his standard comment about his own appearance was that ‘he wouldn’t cause a cow to have a miscarriage’. However, he was certainly showing his death.

“Should I introduce you?” asks the lawyer.

“Time consuming,” says Alison Alexandra.

Time consuming or not, it is quickly evident the other ex-wives are interested. They are happy to leave the corpse and settle around her.

“Which one are you?” The youngest woman touches her arm.

“Yes, what group do you fall into?” A heavily made-up woman leans closer. “Are you an Alison, or an Alexandra?” She laughs nervously. “I hope you’re an Alexandra like me, because we’re outnumbered.”

‘I both help and hinder your cause. I’m Alison Alexandra.”

“Well, fuck me gentle.” A woman, more sternly-tailored than the lawyer, holds out her hand. “We’ve hit the mother lode.”

“The Dayspring From On High Doth Visit Us.” A broad woman puts a chummy hand on Alison Alexandra’s shoulder and pats her. “Our Sisterhood is complete.”

“We hope so.” A woman with riveting eyes and uniform grey hair taps her teeth as she speaks. “Is Alison Alexandra the end of our merry – or, is it married – troupe?”

“Lawyer Croft?” The heavily made-up Ex points with lacquered finger. “Is she?”

“Of those who will attend – yes.” Iris Croft hesitates. “There is one deceased.”

“Oh – who was she?” The youngest Ex is excited. “An Alison, or an Alexandra?”

“There’s a story there, I’m sure.” The lawyer looks directly at the youngest Ex. “But I do not know it.”

“What do you mean?”

“She was neither an Alison nor an Alexandra.”

“Well – that’s a devilish turn.” The broad and friendly Ex now pats the lawyer on the shoulder. “What was her name?”

“Amanda.”

“He couldn’t get enough of ‘A’s”” The severe and grey haired Ex forces a smile.

“Where did she fit in?” asks the youngest Ex.

“Just before you.”

‘Well, I guess that didn’t last.”

funeral,widow,widower.ex-wife,death,history,life,Alison Alexandre,novel,marriage,“What happened to her?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“She died of heart failure.”

“Jeez Louise.” The youngest Ex is startled. “How old was she?”

“It had nothing to do with age.” Iris Croft wonders if there is any confidentiality to break. However, the Ex was not her client, and both principals are deceased. “She had a genetic heart defect, discovered at autopsy.”

“What was she like?”

“I never met her.” Iris Croft spreads her hands. “Just as I have never met any of you until today.”

“But you asked to see Alison Alexandra.” The severe, grey haired Ex speaks quickly. “What was that about?”

“It’s not for me to discuss.”

“Well…” The severe Ex turns to Alison Alexandra. “What’s it about, then.”

“She doesn’t have to tell us anything.” The heavily-made up Ex steps forward. “I have no plans of getting personal.”

“But it is kinda personal.” The youngest Ex smirks. “We all fucked him.”

“And he – us,” says the severe grey haired Ex.

Alison Alexandra would like to avoid squabbling among the members of this odd club. She doesn’t mind telling them her beneficiary status as regards the houses. They each had received the financial rewards of the houses they lived in. It’s no skin off their noses. Or hers.

“I get the house in the will.”

“What?” The severe grey haired Ex looks at all the others. “Did you marry him again?”

“First in/last out?” Alison Alexandra laughs. “Nothing like that. I was his default beneficiary for each new house – until he married again.” She decides not to tell them that she got to inspect each new house first.

“So you kept in touch with him?”

“He kept in touch with me.”

“Just about the house?” asks the youngest Ex.

“Yes.” Alison Alexandra will allow one truth to cover much territory. “Not even a Christmas card.”

Franz Kafka Did Not Like Vienna, And Visits It With Hate

  In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in **missing** diary entries from Kafka’s real diary. He either did not fill in these days himself, or he destroyed them. It is estimated Kafka destroyed 70% – 80% of everything he wrote. I am as accurate as I can be in my timeline. On these July days in 1917, in reality, he travelled to Vienna. He filled in no diary entries, but I have him express opinions he mentioned elsewhere.

15 July 1917

           What pretence have I not endured?

17 July 1917

            Vienna – a city which I hate. The forced gaiety of the people is as cloying to me as the rich desserts which gag my mouth. They live on the borderline with death, and their sweat reeks of terror. It drips onto their ghastly cakes as they peer across the table to see what their companions have. “Shit in; shit out,” as my father would say.

18 July 1917

           I took a night train from Vienna. Not only was it the quickest conveyance available, but I did not have to look at the wretched city in the dark. It’s not a place of dreams, but of nightmares. But, perhaps it was foolish to flee, since my destination is a nightmare.

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