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Letter to the Father

Letter to the Father

By Franz Kafka
Translated by Ernst Kaiser and Eithne Wilkins

“This is the closest we have to Kafka’s memoirs, a story of mutual misunderstanding and alienation, charted in a series of evocatively sketched scenes . . . For all its power of psychological analysis, the tone is rarely self-pitying but almost forensically detached . . . The fact that Kafka nearly always gives his father the benefit of the doubt makes his accusations all the more devastating.”—Carolin Duttlinger, The Times Literary Supplement

“Kafka’s principal attempt at self-clarification is also one of the great confessions of literature.”—F. W. Dupee, The New York Times Book Review

Franz Kafka wrote this letter to his father, Hermann Kafka, in November 1919. Max Brod, Kafka's literary executor, relates that Kafka actually gave the letter to his mother to hand to his father, hoping it might renew a relationship that had lost itself in tension and frustration on both sides. But Kafka's probing of the deep flaw in their relationship spared neither his father nor himself. He could not help seeing the failure of communication between father and son as another moment in the larger existential predicament depicted in so much of his work. Probably realizing the futility of her son's gesture, Julie Kafka did not deliver the letter but instead returned it to its author.

Paperback
121 pages
Text in English and German 
Schocken Books, 2015
5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
ISBN 9780805212662
Letters and Correspondence, Biography

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