Saturday, 12 January 2013

Kafka's Prague

English: 3:4 Portrait crop of Franz Kafka
English: 3:4 Portrait crop of Franz Kafka (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The author Franz Kafka was born in Stare Mesto (The Old Town) in Prague, was educated there, lived and worked there. His grave, together with those of his parents, is in the New Jewish Cemetery. His world was almost entirely limited to a few square miles of the city.

Kafka wrote of his native city "this loving mother has claws; he who would liberate himself, would have to set her on fire at both Vysehrad", so the author had at best a love/hate relationship with town. Maybe one might say that it was precisely this sense of entrapment and alienation that informs his books. As a Jew in 19th century Prague he would not have felt accepted by the Germans, whose language he spoke and wrote in, nor by the Czechs, who were experiencing a resurgence sense of Slavic nationalism. Nevertheless when I read Metamorphosis for my magic realism blog   I was struck by how Czech Kafka's surreal dark humour seemed. 

Franz Kafka monument
Franz Kafka monument (Photo credit: John McNickname)
If you are visiting Prague and are interested in Kafka I suggest you visit the Franz Kafka Bookshop, near the Old Town Square, and buy yourself The Guide to Franz Kafka's Prague (only 20 kc), and take a walk through the old town to discover Kafka's Prague for yourself. Forty nine sites are identified, including Kafka's homes, schools and workplaces.  

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