Tuesday 23 October 2012

Kafka in Love by Jacqueline Raoul-Duval - Book Review

Title: Kafka in Love
Author: Jacqueline Raoul-Duval
Publisher: Other Press
Publication Date: 13th November 2012
Pages: 272
Format: E-Book - PDF
Genre: Non-Fiction / Biography
Source: ARC via NetGalley

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Kafka was an attractive, slender, and elegant man--something of a dandy, who captivated his friends and knew how to charm women. He seemed to have had four important love affairs: Felice, Julie, Milena, and Dora. All of them lived far away, in Berlin or Vienna, and perhaps that's one of the reasons that he loved them: he chose long-distance relationships so he could have the pleasure of writing to them, without the burden of having to live with them. He was engaged to all four women, and four times he avoided marriage. At the end of each love affair, he threw himself into his writing and produced some of his most famous novels: Amerika, The Trial, and The Castle. 

In this charming book, author Jacqueline Raoul-Duval follows the paper trail of Kafka's ardor. She uses his voice in her own writing, and a third of the book is pulled from Kafka's journals. It is the perfect introduction to this giant of world literature, and captures his life and romances in a style worthy of his own. (Goodreads Synopsis)

I have long found Kafka and his writing of interest and have visited the Kafka museum in Prague three times. I therefore knew he had a number of different women in his life over the years and that he had fairly volatile relationships with all of them.

What I enjoyed about this book was the real human quality it brought to those relationships through quotes from letters. It really showed the impact those women had at different times in his life and the way that, and his ill health, affected his writing. 

I found the book easy to read and I never felt bogged down by detail or too many quotes. It was a book both sad and entertaining at the same time. I also appreciated the fact the author didn't end with Kafka's death, but went on to tell what had happened to his friends and family in the following years.

This is not a book that will give you in-depth scholarly insight into Kafka's works, but if you are interested in the life of authors and the things that went on outside of their writing, then this is a worthwhile read.

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