Manual Franz Kafka (Reaktion Books - Critical Lives)

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The cleaning lady gets rid 93 of the corpse: the father decides that she too will be dismissed. The family takes the tram out to the country to discuss their future. They will leave the old apartment and improve their lot. But what does this transformation mean? It is a portmanteau transformation.

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It is as much the decay of the Jews of the West into non-functional members of their own community as much as it is the transformation of the son in a dysfunctional family, with an ill or hypochondriacal father, a passive mother, and a sister entering into her own sexual awareness. All of this is present and yet none of this is dominant. No deep knowledge of Freudian psychology was necessary for Kafka to write in this encrypted manner. You are not in control of your life exactly as it is being changed.

It is the theme of The Trial.

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His hypochondria was his salvation. It rescued him from jobs he did not like and relationships with those, especially women, whom he feared. Undoubtedly an enormous hypochondria, which however has struck so many and such deep roots within me that I stand or fall with it. Since leaving the family home in he had lived in a series of apartments and rooms all over Prague.

I went there.

Rooms high and beautiful, red and gold, almost like in Versailles. Four windows overlooking a completely hidden quiet courtyard, one window onto the garden.

Franz Kafka

What a garden! When you enter the gate of the palace you can hardly believe what you see. Closing the windows in the Palace for the last time, locking the door. How similar that must be to dying. He kept this secret to himself until the very end of the month when he revealed it to Ottla. Fairly severe; for 10 minutes or more it gushed out of my throat; I thought it would never stop.

Without going into all the medical details, the outcome is that I have tuberculosis in both lungs. That I should suddenly develop some disease did not surprise me; nor did the sight of blood; for years my insomnia and headaches have invited a serious illness, and ultimately my maltreated blood had to burst forth; but that it should be of all things tuberculosis, that at the age of 34 I should be struck down overnight, with not a single predecessor anywhere in the family — this does surprise me. Well, I have to accept it; actually, my headaches seem to have been washed away with the flow of blood.

Lay hold of this symbol. Here was a disease that he could claim as his own, not as a curse from his parents. When asked whether it could be tuberculosis, he shrugged his shoulders, noting that everyone has tuberculosis and if it were a shot of tuberculin would cure it. Sadly it was not very effective.

Emil Cohnheim, one of the greatest experts on the disease, noted that everyone had tuberculosis, but only a few came down with symptoms. Since one could test for exposure to the disease, it was clear that everyone did test positive — why then did only some people develop symptoms? Or rather, why did some people not develop symptoms? Indeed, common knowledge, which he was well aware of from his professional work, claimed that Jews were resistant to tuberculosis, that it was a disease of the goyim, the non-Jews.


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But during the cold, wet, hungry months of the incidents of tuberculosis soared for everyone, especially the Jews. Indeed, Jewish mortality from tuberculosis doubled in Berlin between and , an increase much greater than among the general population. But the Jews in the East also saw spectacular increases up to Indeed that year seems to have been the pinnacle for increases among all groups, but especially among the Jews. In Vilnius there was a 90 per cent increase in Jews dying from tuberculosis between deaths and deaths.

In Bialystok, the rate among Jews went from The reasons are evident: the extraordinary severity of the winter and the poorer food available in the cities, especially in the East.

Kafka in his windy and clammy castle was certainly more at risk than most. The disease also progressed more quickly because of the lower resistance caused by poor nutrition. Pick suggested an extended stay in a sanatorium, the standard treatment of the day, and Kafka asked for leave from his job. On 9 September he had written to Felice about his illness.

Now Felice is Dreyfus. When she returned to Berlin, Kafka wrote and broke off the engagement for a second time. Kafka stayed with Ottla in the country until April How would he cope with actually being ill? He fled Prague and, as we have seen, his obligations to Felice. Their two daughters Vera and Helene were born only in the early s.

After the outbreak of his illness Franz took a role as a surrogate child in their relationship. He ruminates in a letter to Brod in midNovember that perhaps Flaubert was right and that there are people who are dans le vrai. Like the 36 righteous Jews hidden in each generation, perhaps there are people and here he means himself whose lives are truer in their suffering.

Yet it was Ottla who managed to stabilize her brother.

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Franz had a close relationship with his strongminded sister, who would regularly confront their father until he grasped at his chest and won their arguments by calling on his bad heart. She had been involved with his business, serving as his bookkeeper. It was Hermann who had got Franz involved with a failed asbestos factory, which was a disaster for everyone.

For months a manuscript of short tales had been lying on the desk of Kurt Wolff, who speaks to Erich Reiss and Ernst Rowohlt about it. Suddenly Wolff has it in print. Many of the works he wrote after he became ill refer in complex ways to disease and death, but this had also been his topic prior to his haemorrhage. At a loss as to how he is to get to his patient, a groom suddenly appears. Magic horses also appear out of his abandoned pigsty to pull his carriage. She screamed and fled back to me; on her cheek stood out in red the marks of two rows of teeth.

It is a visible sign of the destruction presented by the introduction of illness into the tale, for without the call to the patient, who is ill, none of the magic would have been needed. But this is, of course, only the proximate cause, the sign now written on the body.

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The ultimate cause seems to be the illness of the patient. It is diagnosis that is identifying causation that fails at this point. While the doctor threatens the groom with a beating, he is also made internally aware as we are that the groom has appeared to help him to reach the patient and therefore cannot be punished, since the patient must according to the Hippocratic oath take precedence. We read this in his thoughts as revealed by the narrator. So he is forced to abandon Rosa to the further attacks of the groom while the horses carry him to his patient. This image is also indicative of the problem of Western medicine representing the rationality of the Enlightenment in trying to understand its multiple roles in a complex society.

Rose-red, in many variations of shade, dark in the hollows, lighter at the edges, softly granulated, with irregular clots of blood, open as a surface mine to the daylight. It is the wound in the groin that marks the appearance of illness, sexuality and destruction. The visual link is evoked in the colour as well as the visualization of the word.