Thursday's Child: Kafka in Prague

Thursday, January 23, 2014
Artists can often be defined by the places in which they lived, and that's one of the reasons we love finding tributes to local writers and musicians when we travel. That was never more true than when we visited Prague and followed the trail of Franz Kafka.

Kafka spent most of his life living in Prague's Jewish Quarter, but it wasn't until eighty years after his death that a statue was built in his honour. That statue, shown above, features Kafka sitting on the shoulders of a headless man. It seems an appropriate tribute because, as one of the few authors to have inspired an adjective, it truly is Kafka-esque.

"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."
- Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis

Although he lived most of his life in the aforementioned Jewish Ghetto, he lived for two years with his sister in Golden Lane. This short street of medieval buildings is next to Prague Castle, and was named for the goldsmiths that used to live near the castle.  According to legend, Emperor Rudolf II housed his alchemists here, as they searched for the Philosopher's Stone, an elixir that would grant the drinker eternal life.

Fittingly, Kafka was inspired by his time there to write the novel The Castle.

"It was late in the evening when K. arrived. The village was deep in snow. The Castle hill was hidden, veiled in mist and darkness, nor was there even a glimmer of light to show that a castle was there. On the wooden bridge leading from the main road to the village, K. stood for a long time gazing into the illusory emptiness above him."
- Franz Kafka, The Castle

And Parable with a Skull, located on the Castle grounds, was inspired by one of Kafka's characters. The representation of a beggar on all fours, carrying a skull on its back, is rendered slightly less ghoulish when swarmed by enthusiastic young tourists.

"Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old."
-Franz Kafka


Anonymous said...

Hello Beth, great little excursion. I also love Franz Kafta's quote and it is so true. Wishing you a super weekend. BAM

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

I love reading about your travels - you've gone to so many wonderful places! I'd love to visit here some day. =)

Kathy said...

Lovely post, Beth! Such an interesting place. I’ve seen photos of the Castle in Prague…it’s gorgeous!

Valerie Gamine said...

During my darker moods, Kafka and Poe are my favourite writers.
Love this post, Beth! It's wonderful to peer into the life of brilliant minds.

Unknown said...

...ufff, nice to see that not everybody is just cooking or writing about cooking. I love that last quote by Kafka. Thanks for a nice break! :) ela

Barbara said...

What a marvelous education your children have enjoyed! Your travels are always fascinating and I love your posts about them.

Jess said...

Another wonderful post! I need to read more Kafka~ The Metamorphosis is the only one of his that I've read.

lisa is cooking said...

I love how much happier the skull looks with those cute, young tourists! What a great way to learn about a city and an author at the same time.

Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said...

That skull is awesome, definitely defining Franz and his work :D


Catherine said...

Dear Beth, The history of this great city is overwhelming in so many ways.
Blessings dear. Catherine xo

Anonymous said...

Looks like it was a great time!

Kitchen Riffs said...

I gotta say is one of the more maddening books I've ever read. I haven't read it since I was in college -- I should go back and reread it. Good post, fun pictures -- thanks.

Angie's Recipes said...

I haven't touched Kafka's books since....way too long to remember. Thanks for sharing, Beth.

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