Letters to Milena – Franz Kafka

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This is one of a kind book I have read. And I enjoyed it literally. Kafka’s language was painful and also beautiful at the same time. But at some point, the book felt boring because of one-sided letters.

I have never before encountered writing most amazing, touching, beautifully crafted one-sided missives of love, longing and desire.

Kafka wrote these letters to Milena when he was living in Prague. Meanwhile Milena Jesenská—a writer, journalist, and the translator of Kafka’s work into Czech—was living in Vienna with her husband. At one point in time, I started imagining myself as Milena and wanted to reply to Kafka.

What I loved most about them were some of the quote-worthy passages. Here are a few of examples:

“I am constantly trying to communicate something incommunicable, to explain something inexplicable, to tell about something I only feel in my bones and which can only be experienced in those bones. Basically it is nothing other than this fear we have so often talked about, but fear spread to everything, fear of the greatest as of the smallest, fear, paralyzing fear of pronouncing a word, although this fear may not only be fear but also a longing for something greater than all that is fearful.”
― Franz KafkaLetters to Milena

“Written kisses don’t reach their destination, rather they are drunk on the way by the ghosts.”
― Franz KafkaLetters to Milena

“In a way, you are poetry material; You are full of cloudy subtleties I am willing to spend a lifetime figuring out. Words burst in your essence and you carry their dust in the pores of your ethereal individuality.”
― Franz KafkaLetters to Milena

“When one is alone, imperfection must be endured every minute of the day; a couple, however, does not have to put up with it. Aren’t our eyes made to be torn out, and our hearts for the same purpose? At the same time, it’s really not that bad; that’s an exaggeration and a lie, everything is an exaggeration, the only truth is longing. But even the truth of longing is not so much its own truth; it’s really an expression for everything else, which is a lie. This sounds crazy and distorted, but it’s true. Moreover, perhaps it isn’t love when I say you are what I love the most – you are the knife I turn inside myself, this is love. This, my dear, is love.”
― Franz KafkaLetters to Milena

(Publication History – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Letters to Milena is a book collecting some of Franz Kafka‘s letters to Milena Jesenská from 1920 to 1923.

The letters were originally published in German in 1952 as Briefe an Milena, edited by Willy Haas, who decided to delete certain passages which he thought might hurt people who were still alive at the time. The collection was first published in English by Schocken Books in 1953, translated by Tania and James Stern. A new German edition, restoring the passages Haas had deleted, was published in 1986, followed by a new English translation by Philip Boehm in 1990. This edition includes some of Milena’s letters to Max Brod, as well as four essays by her and an obituary for Kafka.)

One Comment Add yours

  1. Tom Schultz says:

    Kafka is definitely a great writer. I was not familiar with this work. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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