Monday, May 23, 2011

book review: Dearest Father by Franz Kafka


"Recently the belief that I was defeated by Father as a small boy and have since been prevented by pride from leaving the battleground, throughout all these years, despite enduring defeat over and over again."



As a father myself the idea of what my sons might be thinking about me kept coming to the forefront of my mind as I read this heart breakingly honest letter from Franz Kafka to his father.

their relationship was one clearly troubled and beset by the dominance of the father and the continual failure of Franz to feel he could live up to what was expected of him. He failed to take a role in the family business, failed to find favour for his writing and caused serious upset with his plans to marry.

But this letter, a love letter from a loving son to a father, is upsetting because there is a feeling that things would never change. No matter what Franz does or did it would make no difference to a man who is almost blinded by his obstinacy and pride.

That's a message for fathers now and a challenge not to provoke hate and servitude in our own children by pushing our own views down their throats.

As Kafka details the numerous occasions when his father and him clashed and the role of his mother as a not quite innocent bystander you feel for the man. You want him to be able to either breakthrough to his father or as an alternative to break free.

Sadly he is capable of neither and as we all know illness took him before there was a chance perhaps to reach one of those outcomes.

A beautifully produced OneWorld Classic contains a few extracts from Kafka's diaries that reinforce some of the points he makes in his letter.

he might not have wanted it printed but across the decades it has a message for fathers now and the clashes and battles he describes continue now in households all across his native Prague and well beyond.

5 comments:

winstonsdad said...

Is this from the stuff that was found a few years ago simon ? ,don't remember it ?,all the best stu

I'm Simon Quicke and I have said...

It's a great read although quite sad

parrish lantern said...

As a parent myself, I find myself sometimes worrying about,how I'm supporting my daughter, if I strike the right balance between guiding/pushing (interpretation) & allowing her enough freedom to develop as her self, instead of some facsimile of me, so this book has that appeal. I'm guessing that Kafka's never came to a realisation of his sons worth.

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