An Introduction to Kafka and
His Revolutionary New Way of Writing
Our fourth year of "Coffee with Kafka" started by asking some essential questions: Who is Franz Kafka and why is he so important? And what is it about Kafka's writing that remains so relevant and current a century after he wrote it?
Kathi Diamant, author of "Kafka's Last Love" and Director of the SDSU Kafka Project, presented a concise overview of the scope of Kafka's life and work, sprinkled with fun facts and little-known details about Kafka's personal and professional life, as well as his literary legacy. Did you know, for example, that Franz Kafka, who also worked as a lawyer for the Worker's Accident Insurance Institute of the Kingdom of Bohemia, is credited with inventing the hard hat? Or that, somewhere in the world, a new book on Kafka has been published every ten days for the last 14 years? Or that, besides Shakespeare, no other author produces more PhDs?
Elizabeth Rohwer, explored the revolutionary new way of writing that Kafka introduced into world literature. He dated his own maturity as a writer from the long night of September 22nd-23rd, 1912, in which he wrote the "The Judgement" as a single eight-hour sitting. He confided to his diary that morning, "Only in this way can writing be done, only with such coherence, with such complete opening out of the body and the soul." Elizabeth led the discussion on what it was that Kafka did in playing with words and concepts to create so many divergent reactions, with a new interpretation possible by each reader.
And once again, Byron LaDue reprised his beloved role as our Kafka reader, bringing to life Kafka's words and stories. Whether he is metamorphing into a mustachioed tuxedo-clad dandy, or evolving into a dog to present Kafka's canine perspective, Byron's proffesional and interpretive skills help us understand the humor and even the joy underlying Kafka's darkest texts.
The text of "The Judgment" can be downloaded for free here. Scroll down to p.101.