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September 16, 1974

Franz Kafka—His Father's Son: A Study in Literary Sexuality

Author Affiliations

From the Department of English, St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY.

JAMA. 1974;229(12):1623-1626. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230500041024

FRANZ KAFKA wrote some of the most brilliant, disturbing, difficult, harrowing—and prophetic—literature of the twentieth century. Fragmentary though much of his work may be, for many of his fictions are in the form of diaries and reflections, and many of his diaries ask questions about the nature of reality, still his strange genius is imprinted on every page. While all writing is, in a sense, autobiographical, and while literary critics must avoid the "biographical fallacy" of interpreting a writer's work in relation to his life, Kafka's terrifying novels, stories, and sketches blur the crucial line between personal commentary and literary artifact. And Kafka himself, fearfully private, was well aware how much of his inner being, how much of his tortured relationship with his father, how much of his sexual impotence and anxiety was in his work.

Kafka made Max Brod, his literary executor and one real friend, promise to destroy