Franz Kafka never bothered much to make his work known. At the time of his death, he
left instructions to his then lover, Dora Diamant, to destroy everything he had left to her.
Max Brod had received the same instruction at a certain point (he was his literary
executor), but had decided not to go ahead with the destruction of the manuscripts. Both
had previously spoken about it while Kafka was alive, and Brod had made it no secret
that he did not intend to carry out, what he considered an unnecessary action.
Now, given this information, the following question comes to mind: Why, if Kafka was
so intent on destroying his work, would he not have gone about it more efficiently before
That Kafka failed to destroy his work before he was dead makes no sense, especially
after having spoken about it with his friend – Brod who
held most of his manuscripts at
the time. Kafka’s intentions were more than clear. However, Brod had clearly told Kafka
that he had no intention of disposing the manuscripts – so maybe it was Brod who
rightfully preserved his work.
Individuals seem to promote their creativity through their own original work, then once
they're gone, they may want it all for themselves, to consequently leave no remnant of
their existence on this earth, except for emotions and lasting memories.
Why would this be so? Is there always a motive behind people's creativity? Do architects
design buildings just to be remembered by them, or are they simply "doing their job"?
Are actors most joyful when their audiences applaud their work, or are they just happy to
"practice their craft"? There seems to be a thin line between the promotion of one's own
creative talent and the craving for attention and acknowledgment.
I would consider it most foolish to pass judgment on Franz Kafka's intentions, and if it is
the case I have done so already, I apologize. However, the question still remains: What
drives some people to keep their work hidden, secret, and only exposed to those they
trust, while others simply shout it to the world, as if saying "Look at me! Look at me!"?
Kafka did share his writings with his friends; he even read the short stories aloud during
from time to time. But he was also supposedly suffering from social
anxiety, depression as well as other maladies, which most, were afflicting him
He also had a poor love life, or at least it seems so, since he never married (maybe he
never wanted to?) and had already left traces of a line of failed relationships. While this
proves nothing, it can lead to the hypothesis that given his personal life, he probably had
very strong motives to have wanted at the end of his life to have his whole body of work
Kafka was always his profession first, and writer second. Writing was his hobby, as it is
mine, as it is most writer's, for who can call himself a writer anymore? You write a short
story after work, maybe on the weekend, but for a living? It's hard to do.
Now, for those who want to write just to gain an audience, and some attention...unless
these penmen enjoy both writing very much and the attention that comes from it equally
as much, they are doomed to fail. Maybe not commercially, since some can pull it off,
but at no level will they succeed personally. As preachy as this may sound, shouldn't
recognition be a bonus derived from the production of one's own contributions, and not
so much the goal?
It doesn't matter if an individual wants his work destroyed; after all it is his work. What
does matter is the reason behind its production. Would it have changed Kafka's mind if
he had any idea how popular his stories would become (even though most of all were left
unfinished), or if he had overcome his depression?
It's difficult to say if Brod's actions after Kafka's death were fair to Kafka.
What is very certain is that Brod would have done a great disservice to humanity (at least
the literary world) had he followed Kafka's death wishes.