©2008 NewFoundations

Kafka On "Woman"

edited 8/19/11

One of the principle fiction writers of the 20th century, Kafka was born into a middle-class Jewish family in Prague, then part of Austria-Hungary. Kafka’s short stories, such as The Metamorphosis (1915), and novels, such as The Trial (1925) and The Castle (1926) feature an exceptional subject matter and unique writing style which still command the admiration of critics and public alike. His fiction features besieged and bewildered individuals in a horribly impersonal and typically threatening world.

At age 34 he contracted tuberculosis and that, coupled with a number of other ailments, were to plague him for the rest of his short life. Eventually, at age 41, he succumbed to the TB, essentially starving to death because the disease made it too painful for him to eat.

Kafka’s first love was Felice Bauer, whom Kafka met when he was 23. Their on-again, off-again, relationship was conducted largely by mail, probably because of Kafka’s morbid fear of sexuality, and featured two broken engagements. The relationship ended in 1917, the same year Kafka developed TB.

In the early 1920s he had an intense relationship, once again primarily via correspondence, with the married Czech writer Milena Jesenská. She abused drugs and her father was a rabid anti-Semite. Kafka fled this relationship in 1923, moving to Berlin. There he met, loved and lived with Dora Diamant, a 25-year-old kindergarten teacher from an Hasidic Jewish family. Dora steadfastly stood by Kafka as his disease progressed, even moving to the sanatorium outside Vienna to be with him. He died in her arms.


Kafka, Franz (1883-1924) -
Austrian novelist and short story writer,
widely regarded as one of the most inaccessible yet influential
writers of this century.

What women do is supernatural? Certainly. Perhaps only supermanly, but of course that is supernatural enough.
-- Letters (December 18/19, 1917)

All that feminine stuff about woman's wiles strikes me as comical, presumptuous, self-important, pitilessly ridiculous, compared with the wretched physicality implicit in it. They (women) play their game, but what do I care.
-- Letters (January 28, 1918)

I believe that woman takes the lead, as for example she demonstrated in the Garden of Eden - where as usually happens she was ill rewarded for doing so.
-- Letters (January 28, 1918)

The only possible seriousness between man and woman seems to me to be marriage.
-- Letters (January 28, 1918)

Amazing how little discernment women have; they only notice whether they attract you, or whether you have pity for them, or finally whether you look for compassion from them. That is all; though in general that is enough.
Letters (January 28, 1918)