Kafka Garden is my humble homage to the man I think is the greatest writer that has ever lived. We can discuss about style and ideas, but no other writer has ever made me feel what he did. I am a German citizen and I am lucky that I can read his work in the language it was created. Although Franz was a fluent Czech speaker and, according to his biographers even spoke German with a Czech accent, he wrote 90% of his known work in German.
The punctuation, the ideas, the way of writing and the solitude he managed to convey with his words is just amazing. When I first read The Metamorphosis I just couldn´t believe how cold he was in his storytelling. He is, by all means, a very factual writer who creates a very rich universe in the head of every one of his characters. The inner dialog is so important for him that for entire paragraphs the use of verbs is irrelevant, although there is a lot going on.
I discovered Kafka as many of us do, in school. I was forced to read some of the classics of world literature there, but I wasn´t haunted by any of them. Kafka went by my teenage years unnoticed. I guess I wasn´t prepared to dive into his universe yet. Some years later, I was on a holiday at my mother´s house and I had nothing to read. It is very strange because I am an avid reader to say the least, but that night I had nothing to read at all. The only book that was handy in my old room was the same copy of The Metamorphosis I had read at school. Bored to death I started reading and just couldn´t put it down. It blew my mind right away. How could I miss that when I was in school? Well, it was one of those moments in which I wasn´t ready to assimilate the information he was pouring delicately into my brain. To me, in my teenage years I had been reading the book about a man who turns into a giant roach and that ruins her life. Years later I could appreciate all the nuances, the hidden pearls and the meaning of many of the passages I couldn´t understand.
The Kafka world is an amazing one with many layers and hidden meanings. You have to pay attention if you want to have a complete experience. After reading that book, I went out to the bookshop downtown in Berlin, where my mother lives and got me a copy of Amerika and The Trial. Also, and under the recommendation of the clerk I got me one of his biography books to better understand where things came from. I was amazed and haven´t stopped ever since. The dual-volume edition of The Castle, the Letter to his Father, his turning into vegetarianism in 1915, sense of humor and amazingly strong prose didn´t let me go and now I am a fully-confessed fan.
I started this blog as homage to him but also with the idea to form a little community of Kafka-lovers who want to share their insights about his corpus of work. I am lucky to be bilingual and think I can answer a thing or two about the nuances of the languages, the translations and the real meaning of some paragraphs. I am a chemical engineer, so I am not a translator, but there are some important German rules that I know from school and from speaking it that can shed some light over a variety of misconceptions and matters. My English Kafka books have a lot of add-ons and corrections because I do not agree with the translators at times.
Finally, what I want with Kafka Garden is to bring my enthusiasm and passion for his work and put that little seed into readers, so they can understand better what he meant and enjoy his texts even further. It is not that he wasn´t a virtuoso with the words, but there is an entirely different world waiting for you to discover it between his words.