“I am a cage, in search of a bird.” ~ Franz Kafka
Kafka struggled constantly with his very self, never feeling that he or his work was good enough. He was self-analytic, self-obsessed—an introvert. His demeanor was quiet and reserved. His daily routines included rigid hygienic standards, every morning washing, combing his hair and shaving a particular way, usually leaving him late for work by 15 minutes every day. At close to six feet tall, he only weighed about 115 pounds and often wore dark blue suits. Although he did not consider himself handsome, others found him with boyish good looks. Once achieving his doctorate in law, he was even mistaken for a school boy. Kafka maintained a strict vegetarian diet. He had the habit of fletcherizing, chewing his food slowly and grinding it before swallowing. He did not smoke or drink, and stayed away from coffee, tea, and animal fat. A typical breakfast with his family consisted of pastries, milk, and stewed fruit. Although he never married, Kafka held marriage and children in high esteem, but sentenced himself to bachelorhood due to what he saw as his many imperfections and his desire not to be like his father. He had a mixed relationship with women—engaged twice, a couple of affairs, and numerous visits to Prague’s red light district. Some scholars even question his sexuality. The more one reads Kafka, the more one contemplates, returns to him and his work, and uncovers a piece of the puzzle only to start anew. Kafka was complex, deep, and emotional.
Photo: Kafka at the age of 27 years old.