Synopses & Reviews
Kafka was an attractive, slender, and elegant man--something of a dandy, who captivated his friends and knew how to charm women. He seemed to have had four important love affairs: Felice, Julie, Milena, and Dora. All of them lived far away, in Berlin or Vienna, and perhaps that's one of the reasons that he loved them: he chose long-distance relationships so he could have the pleasure of writing to them, without the burden of having to live with them. He was engaged to all four women, and four times he avoided marriage. At the end of each love affair, he threw himself into his writing and produced some of his most famous novels: Amerika, The Trial,
and The Castle
In this charming book, author Jacqueline Raoul-Duval follows the paper trail of Kafka's ardor. She uses his voice in her own writing, and a third of the book is pulled from Kafka's journals. It is the perfect introduction to this giant of world literature, and captures his life and romances in a style worthy of his own.
"With neither the imagination and lyricism of a novel nor the analysis and attention to detail of a biography, this hybrid illuminates the worst of both worlds. This is a shame, as the subject matter, the four women with whom Franz Kafka shared his life, is fascinating. First is Felice, whom he meets through his friend Max Brod. Kafka sends her hundreds of letters while also writing some of his greatest work. They are engaged, but Kafka breaks it off, meeting Julie while recovering from Spanish influenza in a small village. They are engaged, but again, this time at his father's bidding, Kafka breaks the engagement, prompting him to pen the famous Letter to His Father. Kafka then meets Milena, a married journalist and translator. The description of their encounter 'Indicators suggest that in this border town... the two lovers (who are no longer lovers) talked at length, but as though they were strangers' is typical of Raoul-Duval's leaden prose. Finally Kafka takes up with Dora, the young woman with whom he will live until the end of his tragically short life at 40 years. This is the book's best section and extremely touching, but too late in coming." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
is an editor, translator, and novelist. She is the author of Le Charme discret de l’adultère
(The discreet charm of adultery) and Un amour amer
(A bitter love).
Willard Wood has translated extensively from the French, including The Last Rendezvous by Anne Plantagenet (Other Press) and the novels of Goncourt Prize–winning author Jean-Christophe Rufin. A recent NEA Fellow in Translation, he lives and works in Norfolk, Connecticut.