Saturday, March 23, 2013

            Workers Accident Insurance Institute

                                                            September 20, 1912
My dear Fraulein Bauer,

      In the likelihood that you no longer have even the remotest recollection of me, I am introducing myself once more: my name is Franz Kafka, and I am the person who greeted you for the first time that evening at Director Broad's in Prague, the one who subsequently handed you across the table, one by one, photographs of a Thalia trip, and who finally, with the very hand now striking the keys, held your hand, the one which confirmed a promise to accompany him next year to Palestine.
      Now, if you still wish to undertake this journey-- you said at the time you are not fickle, and I saw no signs of it in you--then it will be not only right but absolutely essential for us to start discussing this journey at once.  For we shall have to make use of every minute of our holiday, which in any case is far too short , especially for a trip to Palestine, and this we can do only by preparing ourselves as thoroughly as possible and by agreeing on all preparations.
      One thing I have to confess, bad as it sounds, and ill as it accords with what I have just said: I am an erratic letter writer.  Yes, and it would  be  worse still if I didn't have a typewriter; for if my mood doesn't'  happen to feel equal to a letter, there are still my fingertips to do the writing.  On the other hand, I never expect a letter to be answered by return; even when awaiting a letter day after day with renewed anticipation, I am never disappointed when it doesn't come, and when finally it does come, I incline to be startled.  While inserting a new  sheet of paper, I realize that I may have described myself as far more difficult than I am.  If I have made this mistake it would serve me right, for why do I choose to write this letter after six hours in the office, and on a typewriter I am not used to.
      And yet, and yet--the  only disadvantage of using a typewriter is that one easily loses the thread--if doubts were raised, practical doubts I mean, about choosing me as a traveling companion, guide, encumbrance, tyrant , or whatever else I might turn into, there shouldn't be any prior objections to me as a correspondent --and for the time being this is the only thing at issue--and as such, you might well give  me a trial.
Yours very sincerely,

Dr. Franz Kafka
Poric 7, Prague

                                                            September 28, 1912

My dear Fraulein Bauer,
forgive me for not using the typewriter, but I have such an enormous amount  to tell you and, and that typewriter is outside in the corridor; besides this letter strikes me as so urgent; also today is a holiday here in Bohemia(which strictly speaking doesn't belong to the above apology); the typewriter doesn't  write fast enough for my liking' the weather is lovely, warm, the window is open (but my windows are  always open), and I did something I hadn't done for a long time, I arrived in the office humming; and if I hadn't come  to get your letter, I really don't know why I should have come to the office at all on this holiday.
      How did I ever get your address?  When you ask that question, that's not the question you are asking. I just managed to cadge your address.  First I got the name of some corporation,  but I didn't like that . Then I was given  the address of  your apartment without the number, and  eventually the number as well.  Now I was satisfied, and of course didn't write, for I considered the address as something in itself; besides I was afraid the address might be  wrong, for who was Immanuel Kirch?  And  nothing is sadder than sending a letter to a doubtful address; that's no letter, its more like a sigh. Then when I discovered that there is an Immanuel Church in your street, all was well again for a while.  But in addition to your address I would have liked to have some indication of the compass point, since a Berlin address always has it.  I for my part  would like to have  placed you in the North, although I believe  this is a poor district.
      But apart from this worry over addresses (in Prague it is not even know whether you live at No. 20 or 30), how much did my wretched letter have to suffer before it was written!  Now that the door between us is  beginning to move, or at least we are both holding the handle, surely I can, in fact I even must, say it.  Oh, the moods I get into, Fraulein Bauer!  A hail of nervousness pours down upon me continuously.  What I want one minute I don't want the next.  When I have reached the top of the stairs, I still don't know the state I shall be in when I enter the apartment.  I have to pile up uncertainties within myself before they turn into a little certainty or a letter. How many  evenings--to avoid exaggeration I'll say 10--did I spend composing that first letter before going to sleep!  Now it is one of my failings that I cannot write down auto-matically anything I have put together beforehand. My memory is very bad, but even the best of memories could not help me to write down accurately even a short paragraph which I have thought out in advance and tried to memorize's for within each sentence there are transitions that have to remain in suspense before it is written down.  Then, when I sit down to write the memorized sentence, I see nothing but fragments lying about; I can see neither through them nor beyond them, and the only thing to do would be to throw away my pen, if my halfheartedness would let me. Nevertheless I did ponder over that letter, for I have by no means decided to write it, and of course these pondering's are the best way to prevent me from writing.  I remember that I once actually got out of bed to write down what I had thought out for you; but promptly returned to bed,  because --and this is my second failing--I reproached myself for the foolishness of my anxiety, and decided  that what was so clear in my head could just as well be committed to paper in the morning.   Around midnight such decisions always win out.
      But if i go on like this I'll never get  anywhere, I am chattering about my last letter instead of telling you all I have to say.   Please understand why that first letter has assumed such importance for  me. It is because you answered it with the letter that lies here beside me, which has made me absurdly happy and upon which I am now laying my hand to be conscious of owning it.  Please write me another one soon.  Don't make an effort, a letter requires effort, however one looks at it; just keep a little diary for me; this demands less and gives more.  Of course you have to write more in it than you would for yourself alone, since I don't really know you at all.  You must record for instance, at what time you get to the office, what you had for breakfast, what you see from your office  window, what kind  of work you do there, the names of your male and female friends, why you get presents, who tries to undermine your health by giving you sweets and the thousand things of whose existence and possibilities I know nothing. --  But oh, what has happened to the trip to Palestine?
In the near future, or the not so near future, by next spiring or autumn for certain. --Max's operetta is now dormant; he is in Italy, but soon he will thrust upon your Germany an enormous literary yearbook.  My book, booklet, pamphlet  has been accepted at last.  But it is not very good;  better things will have to be written.  And with this verdict I bid you farewell!

                                                    Franz Kafka

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