On tonight's podcast, we'll be looking at a love letter written between novelist and short story writer Franz Kafka, and Felice Bauer.
In the world of odd romances, this one rates somewhere in the top 10% I'm sure. Felice and Franz met in Prague on August 13th 1912 at a dinner party put on by his friend Max Brod.
To call it love at first sight would be...inaccurate, in his diary a week later, Franz describes Felice as follows, "Bony, empty face that wore its emptiness openly. Bare throat. A blouse thrown on. Looked very domestic in her dress although, as it turned out, she by no means was...Almost broken nose. Blonde, somewhat straight, unattractive hair, strong chin."
Yet soon after he was sending her almost daily letters, and by July of 1913 had proposed marriage to her (not for the first time).
Kafka preferred to keep their romance at a distance, the few times they did meet (mostly for proposals), he was disinterested and withdrawn, seemingly disappointed in the actual flesh and blood Felice.
The two were forced apart once and for all in 1917 when Kafka began manifesting symptoms of the tuberculosis that would eventually kill him. Felice would later go on to marry Moritz Marasse, a banker in Berlin, they had two children, moved to Switzerland to escape the Nazis and finally settled in the United States in 1931.
Over 500 letters from this period have survived, sold by Felice in 1955 due to financial troubles from an illness, and they were published in the book Letters to Felice by Elias Canetti.
This is one of them.
I hope you enjoy.
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