Wednesday, October 05, 2005

At home with the Kafkas

Reading this very enjoyable extract from the forthcoming biography of Kafka by Reiner Stach, I wondered why I am drawn to read every biography of Kafka. I know the scene the extract covers: Kafka’s noisy homelife; his nausea at the sight of the rumpled bedsheets in his parents’ room. It's all very familiar, yet I can’t wait to read it again in book form. The table of contents whets my appetite even more, particularly the chapter on the visit to Weimar, just before he wrote The Judgement.

Perhaps I should worry that biographies of writers tempt the fallacy of biographical readings. Having read so many biographies of Kafka, I must be wide open to that temptation! But, you know, my literary criticism has nothing to do with my life.

Anyway, rather than biography bringing the author and work closer together, it makes them even more distinct. This is why I like reading them; the same thing over and over. It brings the distance to life.

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