The song of angels

April 30, 2020

No one sings as purely as those who inhabit the deepest hell – what we take to be the song of angels is their song.

Franz Kafka
August 1920 letter to Milena Jesenská

conscious only of you

February 28, 2020

I am now going to ask you a favour which sounds quite crazy, and which I should regard as such, were I the one to receive the letter. It is also the very greatest test that even the kindest person could be put to. Well, this is it:

Write to me only once a week, so that your letter arrives on Sunday — for I cannot endure your daily letters, I am incapable of enduring them. For instance, I answer one of your letters, then lie in bed in apparent calm, but my heart beats through my entire body and is conscious only of you. I belong to you; there is really no other way of expressing it, and that is not strong enough. But for this very reason I don’t want to know what you are wearing; it confuses me so much that I cannot deal with life; and that’s why I don’t want to know that you are fond of me. If I did, how could I, fool that I am, go on sitting in my office, or here at home, instead of leaping onto a train with my eyes shut and opening them only when I am with you? Oh, there is a sad, sad reason for not doing so. To make it short: My health is only just good enough for myself alone, not good enough for marriage, let alone fatherhood. Yet when I read your letter, I feel I could overlook even what cannot possibly be overlooked.

If only I had your answer now! And how horribly I torment you, and how I compel you, in the stillness of your room, to read this letter, as nasty a letter as has ever lain on your desk! Honestly, it strikes me sometimes that I prey like a spectre on your felicitous name! If only I had mailed Saturday’s letter, in which I implored you never to write to me again, and in which I gave a similar promise . . . But is a peaceful solution possible now? Would it help if we write to each other only once a week? No, if my suffering could be cured by such means it would not be serious. And already I foresee that I shan’t be able to endure even the Sunday letters. And so, to compensate for Saturday’s lost opportunity, I ask you with what energy remains to me at the end of this letter: If we value our lives, let us abandon it all.

Did I think of signing myself Dein [Yours]? No, nothing could be more false. No, I am forever fettered to myself, that’s what I am, and that’s what I must try to live with.


Franz Kafka
Letter to Felice Bauer 11th November 1912


July 18, 2019

You are the knife I turn inside myself; that is love. That, my dear, is love.”

Franz Kafka
Letters to Milena


June 21, 2018

I am a memory come alive

Franz Kafka
Diary entry October 1919


February 13, 2018

What if I slept a little more and forgot about all this nonsense?

Franz Kafka

breathe slowly

January 4, 2018


What are our lungs supposed to do? If they breathe fast they suffocate themselves from inner poisons; if they breathe slowly they suffocate from unbreathable air, from outraged things. But if they try to search for their own rhythm they perish from the mere search.

Franz Kafka
Drowning of the fat man
Description of a Struggle

Diary_Alexandra V.Bach portfolio

“But I’m not guilty,” said K. “there’s been a mistake. How is it even possible for someone to be guilty? We’re all human beings here, one like the other.”

“That is true” said the priest “but that is how the guilty speak

Franz Kafka
The Trial

something incommunicable…

October 26, 2015


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.

Franz Kafka
Letters to Milena

Dearest Father…

March 10, 2015


Dearest Father, You asked me recently why I maintain that I am afraid of you. As usual, I was unable to think of any answer to your question, partly for the very reason that I am afraid of you, and partly because an explanation of the grounds for this fear would mean going into far more details than I could even approximately keep in mind while talking. And if I now try to give you an answer in writing, it will still be very incomplete, because, even in writing, this fear and its consequences hamper me in relation to you and because the magnitude of the subject goes far beyond the scope of my memory and power of reasoning.

Franz Kafka
Letter to my father

Like something poisonous…

February 12, 2015


“Haven’t I for months now been squirming before you like something poisonous? Am I not here one moment, there the next? Are you not beginning to feel sick at the sight of me? Can you not see by now that if disaster—yours, your disaster, dearest —is to be averted, I have to remain locked up within myself? I am not a human being; I am capable of tormenting you cold-bloodedly, you whom I love most, whom I love alone out of the entire human race (as far as I’m concerned, I have no relatives and no friends, am unable to have them, and don’t want them), and cold-bloodedly allowing you to forgive the torments I inflict. Can I tolerate this situation when I am in a position to see it so clearly, have suspected it, find my suspicions confirmed, and continue to suspect it?”

Franz Kafka
Letters To Felice