“A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity." ~ Franz Kafka, Letter to Max Brod, July 5, 1922
While at Charles University, Kafka participated in a student literary club, which organized literary events, readings and other activities. Here, he met lifelong friends Felix Weltsch, Oskar Baum, Franz Werfel and his closest friend who would later serve as his literary executor—Max Brod. The group became known as the Prague Circle (Der Prager Kreis), a name coined by Brod, reflecting the close-knit group of German-language writers from Prague with common cultural and literary values. According to Brod’s biography of Kafka, they met at a lecture that Brod gave on the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, during which Kafka objected to Brod’s characterization of Nietzsche as a fraud. Kafka waited almost two years before showing him any of his writing. As their friendship grew, Kafka could stop at Brod’s house at any hour unannounced. They would read their works to each other for hours on end and write to each other when away. Brod and Kafka also travelled together. Kafka even wrote the intro to a travelogue with Brod, but the writing collaboration stopped there simply because their styles were too different. Brod encouraged Kafka to write and publish his work, seeing his remarkable gift with words. Kafka dedicated a series of his first published works in a collection called Meditation to M.B. – Max Brod. He entrusted Brod with his dying wish of destroying all of his unpublished work, which Brod refused to do. Instead, he completed and reorganized Kafka’s three novels, letters, and diaries and saved them from the Nazis by taking them in a suitcase to Palestine where he later published them. Ironically, although Brod was a more prolific and established writer at the time, history remembers him primarily as Franz Kafka’s biographer and literary executor.
Photo: (from left to right) Max Brod with Kafka