Franz Kafka was born on this day (7/3) in Prague in 1883.
Most people think of him as unhappy, afraid of his father, paranoid, and plaqued by psychosomatic illnesses,guilt and anxiety.
Unfortunately, that does seem to be much of his life. He described himself as “peevish, miserable, silent, discontented, and sickly.” And the stories and novels we know him for are surreal, dark, and pessimistic. “The Metamorphosis”, “In the Penal Colony”, and The Trial reinforce that gloomy image.
That’s why I was pleased some years ago to read that he actually had some normalcy and happiness in his life.
He was a productive and well-liked employee at an insurance company. He enjoyed to row, ride, and swim.
And you can see it as sad of happy that he found love and happiness in the last year of his life, with a woman named Dora Diamant. Yes, sadly he was suffering from tuberculosis.
Diamant later recalled that “Everything was done with laughter,” and “Kafka was always cheerful. He liked to play; he was a born playmate, always ready for some fun.”
Fun + Kafka. I like that better than the usual portrait of him.