Monday 9 November 2015

Kafka's fiancee Julie Wohryzek

More from Kafka's Letter to His Father:

When Kafka first talked to his father about sex, he advised him to use a condom.I can’t remember how old I was at the time, certainly not older than sixteen… It was the first direct lesson in life which I got from you.

But Kafka found his father’s advice morally offensive and was unable to believe that his father had ever followed his own advice. He was pure, above such things. This idea crystallized in my mind perhaps because marriage seemed shameless to me, and I was therefore unable to apply what I had heard about marriage in general to my parents in particular.

For Kafka this incident was proof that neither he nor his father were at fault for their alienation. It was a case of A speaking openly to B, giving him advice hat is not nice but quite usual in the city and perhaps preventing health problems. This advice is not exactly edifying for B, but there is not reason why he could not overcome this disadvantage over the years. In any case he need not follow the advice, the advice by itself is not reason why the whole future world should collapse. And yet something like this happened, but only because you are A and I am B.

Kafka connected this encounter with another one which happened twenty years later, a conversation after he had informed his father that he was going to marry Julie Wohryzek. In a letter to Max Brod he describes her as Jewish and non-Jewish, German and non-German, loves the cinema, operetta, and comedies, loves make-up and veils, has an unusual and continuous supply of the sassiest jargon, is on the whole ignorant.
Kafka’s father was totally against the marriage. He said: She probably put on a special blouse – the Jewish girls of Prague usually know how to go about that –and so you naturally decided to marry her as soon as possible, in a week, tomorrow, today. I don’t understand you. You are an adult. You are urbane, and you don’t know better than to marry just anybody? Is there no possibility to get out of it? If you are afraid, I’ll come with you.

He was clearly contemptuous of the man who seemed to him just as inexperienced and foolish as twenty years ago when they had the conversation about the use of condoms.

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

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