Letter to My Father Review by Franz Kafka

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Content Summary

We will examine the psychological work of Franz Kafka, the author of alienation and social-individual problems, in which he describes his relationship with his father, Letter to My Father.

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Who is Franz Kafka?

Let’s start with our first question, starting with the author’s statement, which wall is indestructible if the questions are correct.

Franz Kafka was born on July 3, 1883 in Prague. While his two brothers were young, his four sisters died during the Jewish holocaust.

He started his education at the boys’ school in Fleischmark. He completed his university education at the Faculty of Law at the University of Prague. In 1920, he met Milena Jasenska, the owner of the letters in her immortal work, Letters to Milena. But Milena will be among those who lost their lives in the concentration camp in 1944.

One of Franz Kafka's iconic photographs

One of Franz Kafka’s iconic photographs

He moved to Berlin in 1923. Here he met Dora Diamant. The effects of family problems and traumas can be seen to a great extent in the works of the author, who deal with themes such as society, individual, alienation and existence in depth.

He lived his life as a person who could not be discovered and whose financial situation was inadequate. With the effect of his financial inadequacy, his health started to deteriorate with the tuberculosis he learned in 1917. Thereupon, he retired in 1922, and after his last years of misery and illness, he died on June 3, 1924, at the age of 41.

His friend Max Brod, who published works after his death

His friend Max Brod, who published works after his death

After his death, his friend Max Brod published his works, disobeying the author’s will. If Brox had not published these works, no one would have known today about such a great writer as Franz Kafka and his huge corpus.

Summary of Letter to My Father

Letter to My Father is a 63-page letter-type biographical work. Although it is not voluminous, it is a book in which we can reach important and detailed information about Kafka’s entire life from his childhood to adulthood.

Herman Kafka, his father, whom Kafka describes as a ruthless tyrant

Herman Kafka, his father, whom Kafka describes as a ruthless tyrant

The author wrote this work in a few weeks. He addresses his father throughout the work. The purpose of writing the book is that he wants to throw out his thoughts, rebellions, regrets and anger, and answers that he cannot give. His biggest anger towards his father is that he prevented him from growing up as a self-confident individual since his childhood with his intimidating and condescending attitudes.

Father Herman is a very intelligent, talented, self-confident, reliable and dominant father. Franz Kafka grew up in a large family. For this reason, he sometimes compares his father’s relationship with himself to his father’s relationship with his sisters and sometimes with his brothers.

A study involving Kafka and Milena

A study involving Kafka and Milena

The author blames his father for his silence and reluctance in his childhood years. He grows up and again blames his father for his loneliness, silence, incompetence. He claims that all of this would perhaps have been less if he had felt a little paternal love, affection and support. Kafka has never been a good speaker, but he is a very good writer. He wants to express his feelings and thoughts, which he cannot express, with this letter book.

Letter to My Father's cover from Lulu

Letter to My Father’s cover from Lulu

In fact, the author’s admiration for his father underlies this anger. He admires his father and has never been a man like him. The invisible gap between him and his father caused him to become estranged. The author tells about this alienation in his family by addressing his father, who caused him to live a cowardly childhood.

He also tells that his mother approached him with endless kindness, patience and love. All problems are related to the relationship with the father.

Franz Kafka secretly admires and envies his father for his intelligence and success. He was not as successful as his father in his works, studies and choices. Because, as he did not receive love and affection from his father, he never received support either.

Writing is important for Kafka, but his father despises his son’s constant writing and dislikes it. Being belittled by his father also causes his admiration to turn into hatred and jealousy. In addition to these, he compares his father with him physically and is jealous. His father is strong, large, healthy and energetic. He is frail, short and weak.

Herman Kafka is a man who is against everything in general and belittles everything. His son’s tastes, ideas, appearance, speech, school, work, friends are never approved by his father, on the contrary, he is always criticized. These criticisms cause the writer to be insecure throughout his life, to find it difficult to find a job, a friend, a wife.

The writer, who always grows up with an endless sense of guilt, cannot get rid of this feeling of guilt and indecision, pessimism and insecurity in all areas of his life. Thus, he became alienated from his family, himself, and his surroundings.

Topic of Letter to My Father

If we approach with Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, the author tells about his childhood traumas, anger towards his father, endless admiration and accusations under the influence of the Oedipus complex, based on his admiration, jealousy and hatred towards his father, in the letters he wrote within a few weeks.

The author's lover, a Polish actress, Dora Diamant

The author’s lover, a Polish actress, Dora Diamant

All these feelings and thoughts that he knows he will never be able to tell his father openly are real, sincere and impressive down to the smallest detail.

Letter to My Father Quotes

“Stinginess is one of the strongest signs of deep unhappiness.” – Page 27

“But you would attack easily with words, you wouldn’t pity someone either while saying it or afterwards, one would be completely defenseless in front of you.” – Page 10

“… because for me you were the measure of everything.” – Page 7

“So I could be grateful to you like a beggar for everything, not for what I did.” – Page 28

“The impossibility of a quiet relationship had another, indeed very natural consequence: I forgot to speak.” – Page 18

“You’ve gained in my eyes the mystique of all tyrants, whose righteousness is not based on their thoughts but on their personality.” – Page 13

“…was I even trying to get married when I saw that even you had struggled in marriage and even failed with children?” – Page 61

General Evaluation of Letter to My Father

Why Should We Read the Classics? Letter to My Father is a timeless book that surpasses its time.

It should be noted: Great texts contain inspirations that will make them want to produce new texts. Kafka’s letters to his father also created an opportunity for contemporary writers such as Oğuz Atay in the literary world to settle accounts with their fathers.

Books of Franz Kafka

The works of the author in our language, which were published by his friend Max Brod and translated into numerous languages, despite his will to be burned after his death, are as follows:

  • The Trial
  • The Castle
  • America
  • The Judgement
  • Meditation
  • In the Penal Colony
  • The Metamorphosis
  • A Country Doctor
  • A Report to an Academy
  • Letters to His Father
  • The Burrow
  • Josepine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk
  • A Hunger Artist
  • The Giant Mole
  • The Great Wall of China
  • Investigations of a Dog
  • Before the Law
  • Blumfield, an Elderly Bachelor
  • Description of a Struggle
  • Letters to Milena

Even if you are as hopeless as Kafka, in the end one writes to be read, dear reader. If Kafka didn’t want to be read, if he really wanted his writings to be burned, he would have burned himself. Being read is the author’s only hope.

Therefore, although Max Brod does not seem to be fulfilling his friend’s will, he did a very good job and actually fulfilled his friend’s will. The flames from the book ignited the memory of humanity and its ashes spread all over the world.



Letter to My Father Review by Franz Kafka
  • Story
  • Fiction
  • Wording
  • Atmosphere

Briely My Opinion

Letter to My Father is a short but striking work that should be read by every reader, whether contemporary literature reader or classical literature reader.

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