Thursday, 1 October 2015

KAFKA AND MARRIAGE. Frailty, lack of self-confidence, and guilt feelings.

I had almost no sense of the meaning and possibility of marriage for me…As a child I developed very slowly. These things were too external, too far removed from me. Occasionally there was a need to think of marriage but there was no indication that I was up for a continual, decisive, not to say, most bitter test. In reality my attempts to marry became the greatest and most hopeful attempt to escape you, and my failure was correspondingly great.  Since everything in that area is a failure, I fear I will not succeed in making you understand the significance of my attempts at marriage, and yet the success of this whole letter to you depends on it, for on the one hand all positive strength available to me was concentrated in those attempts, on the other hand all negative strengths accumulated in them too, and with a passion – all the results of your education, which I have described, that is: frailty, lack of self-confidence, and guilt feelings. They formed a kind of barrier between myself and marriage.  It is difficult moreover to offer an explanation because I have spent so many days and nights digging through and thinking about this subject that I am momentarily disoriented. The only element that makes my explanation easier is your complete misinterpretation of the matter, at least in my opinion. It does not seem to be difficult to introduce at least a small correction in this complete misinterpretation of yours.

First of all, you place my failure to marry among my other failures. I wouldn’t object to that, as long as you accept the explanation for my failures which I have offered.  My failure to marry is part of that chain, but you underestimate the significance of this matter to such an extent that when we speak of it, we actually speak of different things. I dare say nothing ever happened to you in your whole life which had such significance for you as my attempts to marry had for me…

(Source: Letter to my Father, text on; my translation)

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