Sunday, August 15, 2010

Decoding Kafka

I have said enough and more about the consequences of reading Kafka's work. I have admitted,quite openly,that his diaries peak the limits of repressed gloom. With nothing better to do, I decided to read Max Brod's epilogue to the diaries. Max Brod's friendship with Kafka is probably the most enduring of its type in literary circles. Kafka made Brod the executor of his work and requested that his diaries be burnt after his death. Brod, however, skimmed through Kafka's diaries and published an edited version of them, so we may get an insight into the mind that gave us 'The Metamorphosis'.

Brod's task was nothing short of a mammoth effort.Kafka's accounts,often incoherent,are an editor's nightmare.Brod states that he left out the bits that were either too confusing or too personal.I was particularly struck by what Brod says about the dismal tone of Kafka's memoirs.He says that people use diaries as a means for catharsis. They are more likely to record unpleasant experiences and things of a darker nature that have been plaguing them;all with the idea of purging what is undesirable. Kafka was nothing like the man we see in the diaries. On the contrary, he was jovial and not quite the misanthrope they make him out to be.

There was a time when I was amused that Brod despised the term 'Kafkaesque'; not anymore. It is regrettable that Kafka,owing to posthumous fame,has been obscured into the uncomfortable niche of 'experimental existentialists who know nothing but grief'.