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Letters to Milena

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In no other work does Kafka reveal himself as in the Letters to Milena, which begin essentially as a business correspondence but soon develop into a passionate "letter love." Milena Jesenská was a gifted and charismatic woman of twenty-three. Kafka's Czech translator, she was uniquely able to recognize his complex genius and his even more complex character. For the thirty-six-year-old Kafka, she was "a living fire, such as I have never seen." It was to her that he revealed his most intimate self. It was to her that, after the end of the affair, he entrusted the safekeeping of his diaries.

Newly translated, revised, and expanded, this edition contains material previously omitted because of its extreme sensitivity. Also included for the first time are letters and essays by Milena Jesenská, herself a talented writer as well as the recipient of these documents of Kafka's love, anxiety, and despair.

298 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1952

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About the author

Franz Kafka

2,464 books25.1k followers
Prague-born writer Franz Kafka wrote in German, and his stories, such as " The Metamorphosis " (1916), and posthumously published novels, including The Trial (1925), concern troubled individuals in a nightmarishly impersonal world.

Jewish middle-class family of this major fiction writer of the 20th century spoke German. People consider his unique body of much incomplete writing, mainly published posthumously, among the most influential in European literature.

His stories include "The Metamorphosis" (1912) and " In the Penal Colony " (1914), whereas his posthumous novels include The Trial (1925), The Castle (1926) and Amerika (1927).

Despite first language, Kafka also spoke fluent Czech. Later, Kafka acquired some knowledge of the French language and culture from Flaubert, one of his favorite authors.

Kafka first studied chemistry at the Charles-Ferdinand University of Prague but after two weeks switched to law. This study offered a range of career possibilities, which pleased his father, and required a longer course of study that gave Kafka time to take classes in German studies and art history. At the university, he joined a student club, named Lese- und Redehalle der Deutschen Studenten, which organized literary events, readings, and other activities. In the end of his first year of studies, he met Max Brod, a close friend of his throughout his life, together with the journalist Felix Weltsch, who also studied law. Kafka obtained the degree of doctor of law on 18 June 1906 and performed an obligatory year of unpaid service as law clerk for the civil and criminal courts.

Writing of Kafka attracted little attention before his death. During his lifetime, he published only a few short stories and never finished any of his novels except the very short "The Metamorphosis." Kafka wrote to Max Brod, his friend and literary executor: "Dearest Max, my last request: Everything I leave behind me ... in the way of diaries, manuscripts, letters (my own and others'), sketches, and so on, [is] to be burned unread." Brod told Kafka that he intended not to honor these wishes, but Kafka, so knowing, nevertheless consequently gave these directions specifically to Brod, who, so reasoning, overrode these wishes. Brod in fact oversaw the publication of most of work of Kafka in his possession; these works quickly began to attract attention and high critical regard.

Max Brod encountered significant difficulty in compiling notebooks of Kafka into any chronological order as Kafka started writing in the middle of notebooks, from the last towards the first, et cetera.

Kafka wrote all his published works in German except several letters in Czech to Milena Jesenská.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,308 reviews
Profile Image for Ilse.
448 reviews2,856 followers
May 19, 2017
An anthology of longing
Because I love you (you see, I do love you, you dimwit, my love engulfs you the way the sea loves a tiny pebble on its bed-and may I be the pebble with you, heaven permitting) I love the whole world and that includes your left shoulder-no, the right one was first and so I'll kiss it whenever I want to (and whenever you're kind enough to pull down your blouse a little) and that also includes your left shoulder and your face above me in the forest and your face below me in the forest and my resting on your almost naked breast. And that's why you're right in saying we were already one and I'm not afraid of this; on the contrary, it is my only happiness and my only pride and I don't at all restrict it to the forest.

d5c8b5a0aeb2424a4a131edf7a50e460 (Josef Sudek)

When Milena Jesenskà , a Czech journalist and writer asked Franz Kafka for permission to translate his short story The Stoker (later published as the first chapter of Amerika) into Czech, she would not just become Kafka’s first translator, but also the addressee of a flood of enthralling and increasingly passionate letters - 149 letters and postcards, 140 written during 10 months, sometimes several times a day, from March to December 1920, the last ones between 1921 and 1923, a few months before Kafka’s death from TB on 24th June 1924 . Kafka’s letters, entrusted by Milena to Willy Haas, a common acquaintance, subsisted, unlike Milena’s letters to Kafka, which are presumed lost.

Soon the correspondence alters into an consuming epistolary relationship when it deepens from a sharing of a profound mutual empathy (Her poverty. The unfaithfulness of her husband. Her loneliness. His fear. His illness. His fiancée), into a mutual baring of the soul and a long distance intimacy which brings Kafka despair, torment, bliss, sleeplessness as well as uttermost happiness:

'In their entirety as well as in almost every line, your letters are the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me.'

(Alain Fleischer, Franz II ( Homage to Kafka))

Writing one another several times a day, he most of the time in German, she in Czech, the criss-crossing of letters brought Kafka, exhausted by his illness and insomnia, on the verge of collapse. Torn by the ‘constant trepidation’ brought by her letters, he asked her to stop writing while at the same time begging for her letters:
Yesterday I advised you not to write me every day, I still hold the same opinion today and it would be very good for both of us, and so I repeat my advice today even more emphatically- only please, Milena, don't listen to me, and write me every day anyway, it can even be very brief, briefer than today's letters, just 2 lines, just one, just one word, but if I had to go without them I would suffer terribly. (July 20, 1920).
Both fascinated by and recoiling from Milena’s blistering personality and vivacity, Kafka writes to Max Brod his insomnia becoming unbearable because of his correspondence with her – ‘she is a living fire, of a kind I have never seen before’.

According to Brod’s Franz Kafka: A Biography, Kafka held Milena in high esteem as a writer, comparing her psychological meditations and reportages on life in Vienna, books, fashion, meditations to the letters and travelogues of Theodor Fontane; observing the deplorable state of Kafka waiting in the office for a letter of Milena to arrive, terribly exalted, undermining his already weak health, he visits Kafka at the office to help him get through the long hours waiting for another letter or telegram of Milena.
‘But whenever these other letters come, Milena, even if they are basically more auspicious than the first ones (although on account of my weakness it takes me days to penetrate to their happiness)-these letters which begin with exclamations (and after all, I am so far away), and which end with I don't know what terrible things, then, Milena, I literally start to shake as if under an alarm bell; I am unable to read them and naturally I read them anyway, the way an animal dying of thirst drinks, and with that comes fear and more fear; I look for a piece of furniture to crawl under; trembling, totally unaware of the world, I pray you might fly back out of the window the way you came storming in inside your letter. After all, I can't keep a storm in my room.


And so we get swept away in a gruelling, paradoxical dance of push--pull relationship dynamics and inertia, a continuous veering between detachment and attachment, a relationship simultaneously intensifying and alienating partly because of the distance. Often packed in one letter, we find tender expressions of the desire to bridge the distance in a scorching longing for closeness (’I am so happy to breathe again with you so near. It is impossible to understand how my breast could expand and contract enough to breathe this air, it’ s impossible to understand how you can be far away. I kept wanting to hear a different sentence than you did, this one ‘you’re mine’. And why that one in particular? It doesn’t even mean love, just nearness and night.’) and distorted evading of the threat of bodily presence by pushing away and disheartening the woman haunting him and depriving him of his sleep: ’If you become involved with me, you will be throwing yourself into the abyss.’

We see Kafka hiding behind his fear, his illness, his work, his demons in order not to meet Milena, Milena pressing him to meet, until eventually the relationship agrounds in despondency, and they must face there will not be a common future, never.

During the frantic phase of exchanging letters, Kafka and Milena met in person only twice, four days in Vienna in June 1920, and one day in Gmünd, on the Austrian-Czech border, in August 1920. As the relationship proved without prospect, Milena not willing to leave her husband to come to live with Kafka in Prague, Kafka broke off the relationship, the letters continuing, less frequent, again more formal in tone, the time following. While Kafka later, on December 2, 1921 will write in his diary ‘Always Milena, or maybe not Milena, but a principle, a light in the darkness’, more darkness and despair creep into the letters:

‘I don’t believe the funny letters anymore. I almost said: I don’t believe any letters anymore, even the most beautiful ones always contain a worm’. (September 4, 1920)

‘No one sings as purely as those who inhabit the deepest hell – what we take to be the song of angels is their song’. (August 26, 1920)

‘It’s unfair to laugh at the lead singer in the opera who sings an aria while lying on the stage, mortally wounded. We lie on the ground and sing for years’. (September 1920)

Numerous passages recount on Kafka’s notorious ‘fear’, a fear like a living animal caging Kafka, ranging far beyond the well-known fear of intimacy, commitment and being tied down. A fear that, as well as Milena’s marriage to Ernst Pollak, will at last come between them:

'Perhaps the logical conclusion is that we’re both married, you in Vienna, I to my fear in Prague ((July 21, 1920).'


From these letters Kafka emerges not solely as an anxious and restless insomniac man on the edge, but as well as a witty, loving and playful human being bestowing his epistolary companion with endearing tenderness and affection, showing concern about her weal and woe, her health, her friendships, her – like his – equally difficult relationship with her father, her work, while at the same time exploring his own murky depths, ensuing in an enigmatic amalgamation of transparency and obfuscation, a blending of self-disclosure of his psyche as well as a delirious evocation of a ghostly inner world of delusions.

'Moreover, perhaps it isn’t love when I say you are what I love the most – you are the knife I turn inside myself, this is love.'

'The easy possibility of writing letters-from a purely theoretical point of view-must have brought wrack and ruin to the souls of the world. Writing letters is actually an intercourse with ghosts and by no means just with the ghost of the addressee but also with one's own ghost, which secretly evolves inside the letter one is writing or even in a whole series of letters, where one letter corroborates another and can refer to it as witness. How did people ever get the idea they could communicate with one another by letter! One can think about someone far away and one can hold on to someone nearby; everything else is beyond human power. Writing letters, on the other hand, means exposing oneself to the ghosts, who are greedily waiting precisely for that. Written kisses never arrive at their destination; the ghosts drink them up along the way. It is this ample nourishment which enables them to multiply so enormously. People sense this and struggle against it; in order to eliminate as much of the ghosts' power as possible and to attain a natural intercourse, a tranquility of soul, they have invented trains, cars, aeroplanes-but nothing helps anymore: These are evidently inventions devised at the moment of crashing. The opposing side is so much calmer and stronger; after the postal system, the ghosts invented the telegraph, the telephone, the wireless. They will not starve, but we will perish.'

While apparently revealing in many respects, the letters mostly left me only more mystified on Kafka’s personality for which the epithet ‘convoluted’ maybe would be an understatement (if a Freudian reading of the Letters to Milena would take your fancy, try Kafka’s Letters to Milena and the Question of the Body by Shadi Neimneh). As I read both The trial and The Castle aeons ago, the connections between these intimate musings and his fictional work - like Felice Bauer is, according to Elias Canetti, central to the plot of The Trial, Milena – and her husband Ernst Pollak– will appear in The Castle – remain for me features still to explore, (maybe in a next life).

Reading this was an overwhelming experience. Bemused by their fulgurant intensity, I couldn’t read this ardent and often painful letters but slowly, in spells, lost in the brilliant beauty of the sentences, their unexpected lyricism and tenderness, the sensuous and horrifying poetry of certain fragments.

‘And now my best regards after all – what does it matter if they collapse at your garden gate; perhaps your strength will be all the greater.’ On Christmas Day 1923, half a year before his death Kafka ended his correspondence to Milena with these last words. Arrested by the Gestapo for active resistance to Nazi occupation, Milena Jesenskà died in Ravensbrück on 17th May 1944, 47 years old.
Profile Image for Fernando.
676 reviews1,067 followers
July 20, 2020
"No puedo hacerte comprender, no puedo hacer comprender a nadie lo que ocurre dentro de mí. ¿Cómo podría explicar por qué ocurre lo que está ocurriendo? Ni siquiera puedo explicármelo a mí mismo. Pero tampoco es esa la razón principal. La razón principal es evidente: es imposible llevar una vida humana cerca de mí. Lo estás viendo y, sin embargo, no quieres creerlo."

Esta frase, tan propia de de Kafka como así también de esa especie de alter ego suyo que es Gregor Samsa en “La Metamorfosis” y forma parte de una de las tantas cartas que Kafka le escribe a Mílena Jesenská entre principios de 1920 y finales de 1923. Ese período abarca una relación casi completamente epistolar, puesto que sólo se vieron cuatro días en Viena y parte de un día en Gmünd, Austria. Ella, casada e infeliz. El, sólo y enfermo. El tenía 38 años y ella 24.
Un año más tarde, en 1924 Franz Kafka perdía su batalla contra la tuberculosis y 20 años después se apagaba la vida de Mílena en un campo de concentración de Ravensbrück bajo el espanto del Holocausto nazi.
(Kafka es premonitorio cuando le escribe: "Algo más, sin embargo: ¿cuando hablas del futuro no olvidas a veces que soy judío? El ser judío sigue siendo peligroso, aun a tus pies.").
Esta relación, digamos, “amorosa” era improbable, efímera y perecedera puesto que es el mismo Kafka el que establece la realidad a la que están sometidos. Kafka, abrumado de vivir al igual que sus personajes con lo inabordable es consciente de que Mílena es su bálsamo, su tabla de salvación, pero esa tabla no se sostendrá mucho a flote.
Él se siente agobiado por la burocracia de su trabajo, acuciado por una enfermedad cruel y opresiva, perseguido por un constante insomnio y a además de todo esto, anhelando acortar una distancia imposible entre Praga y Viena y que funciona como clara regla de juego en este intercambio de sentimientos escritos. Al leer estas cartas iba consolidándose en mí este idea formada que tengo de que para muchos escritores es difícil, realmente difícil, separar lo empírico de lo ficcional, puesto que de otra manera no existirían tantos libros, tantas historias y tantos personajes, porque seamos sinceros: ¿no nos da la sensación que algunos personajes parecieran ser ese mismo autor aunque él lo niegue?
Kafka tiene momentos en que hace girar todo su mundo alrededor de estas cartas, de esperar cotidianamente que el correo las traiga para aportar aire fresco a su compleja existencia. De hecho afirma que tiene que ir a trabajar, pero no logra concentrarse porque quiere leer las cartas que le envía Mílena, pero no las puede leer porque tiene una necesidad imperiosa por escribir más cartas. Este es el círculo vicioso en el que ha caído ("Es como si uno se esforzara por destruir un solo caldero del infierno: en primer lugar, no lo lograría, y si lo lograra, se quemaría en la masa ardiente que brota del caldero roto. Mientras tanto, el infierno subsistiría en toda su gloria. Es necesario comenzar de otra manera").
Doy otro ejemplo que va de lo empírico a lo ficcional. En un momento a Kafka le sucede lo siguiente: ”Mientras estaba tendido allí, a un paso de mí yacía un escarabajo, patas arriba, desesperado. No podía enderezarse, me habría gustado ayudarlo, era tan fácil hacerlo, bastaba un paso y un empujoncito para brindarle una ayuda efectiva. Pero lo olvidé a causa de la carta. Además no podía ponerme de pie. Por fin, una lagartija logró que volviera a tomar conciencia de la vida que me rodeaba. Su camino la llevó hasta el escarabajo, que ya estaba totalmente inmóvil. De modo que no fue un accidente, me dije, sino una lucha mortal, el raro espectáculo de la muerte natural de un animal. Pero la lagartija al deslizarse por encima del escarabajo, lo enderezó. Por unos instantes continuó inmóvil, como muerto, pero luego trepó la pared como la cosa más natural. Es probable que eso me haya brindado, de alguna manera, un poco de coraje. Lo cierto es que me puse de pie, bebí leche y le escribí a usted.” De algún modo, este hecho vuelve a su existencia real, lo leemos en las desdichas que le atribuyó a su atormentado Gregor Samsa en la metamorfosis.
Uno de los puntos más interesantes que reviste la vida de Kafka y (sus personajes) es la inaccesibilidad, característica tan propia del agrimensor K. en su libro “El Castillo”. Todo lo que la vida le ofrece tiene en cierto punto algo inalcanzable. Es tangible, pero está lejos, aunque esté a punto de tocarlo: ”A veces tengo la impresión de que tenemos una habitación con dos puertas enfrentadas y cada uno de nosotros empuña el picaporte de una de ellas. Basta un pestañeo de uno, para que el otro desaparezca detrás de su puerta. Y el primero apenas si alcanza a pronunciar una palabra, cuando el segundo ya ha echado cerrojo y se pierde de vista. Volverá a abrir su puerta, porque se trata de una habitación que quizá no pueda abandonarse. Si el primero no fuera exactamente igual al segundo, si fuera sereno, preferiría no mirar en dirección al otro, ordenaría la habitación sin prisa, como si fuera una habitación cualquiera. Pero en lugar de eso, hace lo mismo con su puerta, a veces ambos cierran las puertas a la vez y la hermosa habitación queda desierta”.
Es increíble que haya tanta coincidencia, puesto que lo inaccesible que la vida le da se lo ofrece en todos los aspectos y como no podía ser de otra manera, le pasa también en el amor.
La sumisión de Kafka es total hacia Mílena ("ahora he perdido hasta el nombre; se fue abreviando cada vez más y ahora sólo es: Tuyo.") y lo maravilloso de este estado de ánimo es que siente a Mílena a su lado y con eso se contenta y sonríe. Por eso lucha, se impone y defiende ese amor tan liviano, tan etéreo: "Además, quizá no se trate realmente de amor cuando digo que tú eres lo que más amo; amor es que tú seas el puñal con el cual revuelvo dentro de mí. Por otra parte, tú misma lo dices: "no tienes la fuerza necesaria para amar". ¿No basta eso para distinguir al hombre de la bestia”?
Mílena Jesenská dijo alguna vez que "Franz era tímido, retraído, suave y amable, visionario, demasiado sabio para vivir, demasiado débil para luchar, de los que se someten al vencedor y acaban por avergonzarlo."
Escribo esta reseña con más frases y fragmentos que palabras propias porque siento que el hecho de leer un libro basado en lo epistolar clarifica la naturaleza de la relación que Franz Kafka tuvo no sólo con Mílena Jesenská, sino también con Felice Bauer, con quien tuvo otro frondoso intercambio de cartas también, además de estar dos veces comprometido para casarse con ella. Tuvo una tercera compañera, la del final de sus días que se llamó Dora Dymant, pero estas dos mujeres forman parte de otras historias, cartas y amores.
Cierro la reseña luego de leer cartas tan íntimas, confesionales y apasionadas con esa frase del propio Kafka que dice que "La literatura es siempre una expedición a la verdad."
Para mí, este libro es una expedición a su atormentado corazón.

Profile Image for هدى يحيى.
Author 8 books15.9k followers
November 3, 2020

لا يمكنني بصورة ما أن أكتب المزيد عن أي شيء آخر سوى ما يتعلق بنا، ما يتعلق بنا وسط اضطراب العالم، نحن فحسب
كل شيء آخر، هو شيء بعيد
خطأ! خطأ!
غير أن الشفاه تغمغم، ووجهي يستلقي في أحضانك

لو أن شخصًا أنقذ من الغرق شخصًا آخر فإنه سيكون عملا عظيمًا بلا شك
لكن لو أنه بعد ذلك أعطى لذلك الشخص الذي تم إنقاذه علي يديه اشتراكًا في دروس للسباحة، فما هو الخير الذي سيتمخض عنه ذلك؟
لماذا يحاول المنقذ للآخرين أن يجعل الأمر بهذه البساطة بالنسبة لنفسه؟
لماذا لا يرغب في أن يواصل إلى الأبد إنقاذ الآخر بوجوده؟
بوجوده المستعد أبدًا؟
لماذا يحاول أن يحول العبء إلى مدرب السباحة؟

ما أخافه وعيناي مفتوحتان على اتساعهما، بعد أن غرقت في أعماق خوفي، عاجزًا حتى عن محاولة النجاة
هو تلك المؤامرة التي تقوم في داخلي ضد ذاتي، تلك المؤامرة وحدها هي ما أخشاه،
Profile Image for Mutasim Billah .
112 reviews188 followers
June 20, 2020
“When one is alone, imperfection must be endured every minute of the day; a couple, however, does not have to put up with it. Aren’t our eyes made to be torn out, and our hearts for the same purpose? At the same time it’s really not that bad; that’s an exaggeration and a lie, everything is exaggeration, the only truth is longing. But even the truth of longing is not so much its own truth; it’s really an expression for everything else, which is a lie. This sounds crazy and distorted, but it’s true. Moreover, perhaps it isn’t love when I say you are what I love the most - you are the knife I turn inside myself, this is love. This, my dear, is love.”

Milena Jesenská was born in Prague, Austria-Hungary. In 1918 she married Ernst Pollak, a Jewish intellectual and literary critic whom she met in Prague's literary circles, and moved with him to Vienna. The marriage, which allegedly caused her to break off relations with her father for several years, was an unhappy one.

In 1919 she discovered a short story (The Stoker) by Prague writer Franz Kafka, and wrote him to ask for permission to translate it from German to Czech. The letter launched an intense and increasingly passionate correspondence. Jesenská and Kafka met twice: they spent four days in Vienna together and later a day in Gmünd. Eventually Kafka broke off the relationship, partly because Jesenská was unable to leave her husband, and their almost daily communication ceased abruptly in November 1920. They meant so much to each other, however, that they did exchange a few more letters in 1922 and 1923 (and Kafka turned over to Jesenská his diaries at the end of his life). Jesenská's translation of The Stoker was a first translation of Kafka's writings into Czech (and as a matter of fact, into any foreign language); later she translated two other short stories by Kafka and also texts by Hermann Broch, Franz Werfel, Upton Sinclair, and many others. Jaroslav Dohal, the name given for the translator of the Czech edition of Kafka's short-story "Reflections for Gentlemen-Jockeys", is most likely a pseudonym for Jesenská.

"The easy possibility of writing letters must have brought wrack and ruin to the souls of the world. Writing letters is actually an intercourse with ghosts, and by no means just the ghost of the addressee but also with one's own ghost, which secretly evolves inside the letter one is writing."

The words in these letters are a haunting testament of longing and agony. The intense emotions that produced the ghostly poetry of Kafka's words are well documented here. This particular edition of Letters to Milena contains material previously omitted because of its extreme sensitivity. Also among the extended contents are:

- Milena Jesenská's Letters to Max Brod
- Four Essays by Milena Jesenská: 'Vienna', 'Letters of Notable People', 'A Dream', and 'The Devil at the Hearth'
- Milena Jesenská's Obituary for Franz Kafka

Kafka died of laryngeal tuberculosis on 3 June 1924, aged 40, in a sanatorium in Kierling just outside Vienna.

Arrested by the Gestapo for active resistance to Nazi occupation, Milena Jesenskà died in Ravensbrück on 17th May 1944, 47 years old.
Profile Image for Luís.
1,826 reviews477 followers
March 12, 2023
These Letters to Milena date from 1920 to 1922; while their correspondence is very rich, we only have letters from the writer, which show the intensity of his short passion. With great ease of writing, Kafka evokes his troubles, even his disturbances in the face of the absence and lack of this young married woman with whom he is madly in love.
In Vienna, Milena Jesenská translated Kafka's first short stories into Czech in 1920. They met on this occasion in Merano and cured the writer. She is 24; he is 38. Nevertheless, Kafka is ill, and this will often take over. He talks about his fears; his letters can be fiery or cynical. Milena and Franz will see each other little but be very close, and their passion will occupy all the space. Yet the letters of an impossible love that is too difficult to bear will become less frequent and eventually cease.
Thanks to the power of Kafka's expressions, I thought talking about love was easy, but his complicated relationship with Milena doesn't always make him comfortable. However, I find that a man who reveals himself is very moving.
Profile Image for Nika.
125 reviews131 followers
October 9, 2022
" Getting to know someone is inconceivably difficult ."

Franz Kafka wrote a series of letters to Milena Jesenská, a young woman who translated some of his stories into Czech.
They met only two or three times but, as the letters that have reached us reveal, the connection between the two was strong. Milena’s answers are mostly lost, but we may sense some of them from Kafka’s letters. They offer a valuable insight into the inner world of the writer.
From these letters, he emerges as someone tormented by insomnia, severe bouts of coughing, fears of himself, of people and of life. Kafka shares his almost despairing hopes and shattered expectations with Milena.
The writer predicts that their relationship will be coming to an end soon. Too many things divide them. Milena is married and lives in Vienna. Kafka lives in Prague, and he is not free too. Anxiety and fears are his constant companions.
If one decided to count the frequency of the words that these letters contain, "fear" would probably be the most frequent one.
"...the only certainty is that I cannot live apart from you without completely submitting to fear, giving it even more than it demands, and I do this voluntarily, with delight, I pour myself into it."
Kafka even proposes a definition of "fear".
Of course one cannot even figure out one’s own riddles; this is precisely the meaning of “fear.”

Franz longs for her attention, begs Milena to answer his letters, and occasionally tries to give her some advice regarding her health. In some letters, he attempts to bring her to accept financial help.
Kafka’s letters combine the feeling of loneliness, which seems to ooze from his words, with a certain sense of self-sufficiency, albeit peculiar or Kafkaesque, if you will.
On occasion, Kafka dares not open her letters. He may leave them lying on the table unopened and wait a couple of days before approaching them.
Perhaps, the writer did not feel ready for such intense feelings hidden in these letters.
Too much happiness, as well as too much sadness, could be devastating.

According to Franz, exchanging letters touches on the intersection of the ordinary with the mystical and transcendental. Kafka highlights the point in an impressive manner:
Writing letters is actually an intercourse with ghosts and by no means just with the ghost of the addressee but also with one’s own ghost, which secretly evolves inside the letter one is writing or even in a whole series of letters, where one letter corroborates another and can refer to it as witness.

My personal experience with reading private letters never intended for the public is somewhat ambivalent.
Through letters we get the vicarious experience of a distant time and place. I appreciate their quality of spontaneity, a degree of sincerity that is often present, and the opportunity to learn firsthand about the past.
At the same time, reading letters sometimes evokes in me a strange feeling, as if I were inadvertently spying on their authors who are long gone or, to put it less bluntly, as if I were entering uncharted territory without being invited.
Such was the case with Kafka’s letters to Milena.
However, the one thing that I find more challenging than reading such personal texts is reviewing them. Therefore, I had better stop rambling and give the floor to Kafka.

Here are a few excerpts from the collection of letters.

Written kisses never arrive at their destination; the ghosts drink them up along the way.

Recommended to those who love the novels of Kafka and are interested in his personality.
Profile Image for İntellecta.
198 reviews1,531 followers
January 14, 2022
It is very impressive to see Franz Kafka in his purest form and to witness his love and suffering in such a concrete way.

-Bak Milena, 'en çok seni seviyorum' diyorum, ama gerçek sevgi bu değil belki, 'sen bir bıçaksın, ben de durmadan içimi deşiyorum o bıçakla' dersem, gerçek sevgiyi anlatmış olurum belki."
Profile Image for Piyangie.
510 reviews391 followers
February 12, 2023
Dear Kafka, we cannot get along, you and I. It really saddens me to say this. You are a true genius. There is no denying it. I know in my heart that I appreciate your ability, your talent, so this shying away from your works may be an outcome of awe or fear, I don't know which. It was just like two years ago, in Prague, I was outside your museum contemplating whether to visit you or not. I was undecided and you didn't help me. You didn't call me in, so I sipped my coffee sitting in the courtyard and went away, a decision I regret up to date. But what could I have done, Kafka? Every time I come near you, I either run away or you drive me away. And isn't it really the story between you and Milena? Forgive me if I misunderstand you, for you are not easy to understand.

Why I wanted to read your letters to Milena is the thought that I would understand you a little better since I miserably failed to do so with your creative art. But now, I'm not so sure. I still feel lost. This doesn't mean I'm totally ignorant of yourself, Kafka. I do comprehend you, but not as much as I should. You are a tormented genius, and you torment others with your genius, complex being. You surely did torment Milena. Yes, you loved her. "I love you (you see I love you, you dimwit, my love engulfs you the way the sea loves a tiny pebble on its bed - and may I be the pebble with you, heaven permitting)...". You knew she belonged to you. "I know my relationship to you (you belong to me, even if I should never see you again)". Yet, you drove her away because you were "in agony, in love, in worry, and in an entirely indefinite fear of the indefinite, which is indefinitely mainly because it is infinitely beyond my strength.". And I can relate to you somewhat differently on that. It is infinitely beyond my strength to form a literary relationship with you. I did sympathize with you, but I couldn't empathize. It was simply impossible, for you didn't allow me to become intimate with you. You kept your distance, and I, either from awe or fear, didn't fight to close it. But with all this, I still can't say goodbye to you. I don't know why, but it is so. Perhaps, I'm drawn to you by some invisible thread, like one tortured soul is drawn to another. And one day, I may have enough strength to confront you, and breakthrough your thick walls that I cannot penetrate now. So dear Kafka, until such time, auf wiedersehen!
Profile Image for سمر محمد.
330 reviews316 followers
April 2, 2018

وإنتهت رسائلك عزيزي كافكا !
لم تكن مجرد رسائل عادية .. فكافكا نفسه لم يكن عادياً ..
هذا العبقري الكئيب - كما أحب أن أدعوه دائماً
حتى عندما حاول أن يكتب عن الحب ..غير أني أراه إحتياجاً أكثر منه حب
كانت مليئة بالبؤس والكأبة
روحاً تنزف على الورق .. يبوح بكل ما في نفسه دون تردد يكتب عن أدق الأمور
يجعلها تشعر حتى بما يدور في خلده

ميلينا تلك المرأة التي راسلها لمدة لا تزيد عن عام
كانت قد ترجمت بعض أعماله من الألمانية إلى التشيكية
كانت إمرأة متزوجة عندما قابلها
ونجد أن كافكا نفسه يعترف في أخر الرسائل لها فأن لا مستقبل لهما ولا إمكانية ليكونا معاً في يوم من الأيام (مفيش فايدة -_- )
ولكن أين كان هذا الشعور منذ البداية ؟

كم كنت أتمنى أن أقرأ رسائلها إليه
فعدم وجودها يجعلك تشعر أن هناك شيئاً مفقوداً
روحاً أخرى كانت هنا تشعر بها ولكنك تفتقدها لتكتمل عناصر الحكاية

منذ بدأت قراءة هذه الرسائل وأنا أشعر بلحن ما يدور في عقلي
لم أقم يوماً بربط كتاب بموسيقى ما
إلا هذه الرسائل
فأصبحت لا أقرأها إلا مع هذه الموسيقى من فيلم (Her )


لا أدري لماذا إرتبطت هذه الموسيقى بروح كافكا بشكل ما
ربما لحزنها ؟ .. ربما ..!!

Profile Image for Tara.
369 reviews21 followers
January 31, 2018
“Sometimes I feel we have a room with two doors on opposite sides and each of us is holding his doorknob and, at the bat of one person’s eyelash, the other jumps behind his door, and now if the first person utters a single word, the second is sure to close the door behind him, so that he can no longer be seen. He is bound to reopen the door, though, since it may be a room impossible to leave. If only the first person weren’t exactly like the second, then he would be calm and pretend not to care in the slightest about the second; he would slowly go about ordering this room the way he would any other. But instead, he repeats the same thing at his door; occasionally even both people are standing behind their doors at the same time and the beautiful room is empty.”

This incredibly intimate collection of letters revealed a great deal of Kafka’s personal life, undoubtedly far more than he’d have been comfortable sharing with the public at large. Readers vividly experience not only his vast, seemingly boundless love for Milena, but also his excruciating longing, overwhelming self-doubt and anxiety, and the rather dilapidated state of his physical health. While Kafka’s insightful observations and wry sense of humor certainly resonated with me, what really blew me away was his wonderful, almost naively excessive honesty. He was extremely sensitive and perceptive, and he related all he saw with endearing sincerity. Milena herself wrote about this trait of his quite eloquently:
“Obviously, we are all capable of living, because at one time or another we have all taken refuge in a lie, in blindness, enthusiasm, optimism, a conviction, pessimism, or something else. But [Kafka] has never fled to any refuge, not one. He is absolutely incapable of lying, just as he is incapable of getting drunk. He lacks even the smallest refuge; he has no shelter. That is why he is exposed to everything we are protected from. He is like a naked man among the dressed.”

He let everything in and experienced it all fully, almost like a child does. This is a rare and precious trait, and though at times it left him vulnerable to intense, agonizing pain, it was also why he possessed such formidable insight, intelligence, and humor. Kafka’s soul was in many ways far too pure for this fucked up world.

Due to this remarkable clarity of vision, many of the musings and reflections scattered throughout these letters were absolutely fascinating. For instance, when discussing how neuroses can function as a form of mental “crutches,” his observation that “it’s no sign of recovery when the crutches grow to be a burden” was profound not only due to its keen psychological awareness, but also because of how relentlessly he was tormented by this phenomenon himself.

No stranger to masochism, Kafka’s description of his love for Milena struck a chord with me too: “Moreover, perhaps it isn’t love when I say you are what I love the most—you are the knife I turn inside myself, this is love.” Along these same lines, he made the excellent point that genuinely longing for someone can be searing enough on its own without having to resort to any melodramatic flourishes or hyperbole: “Aren’t our eyes made to be torn out, and our hearts for the same purpose? At the same time it’s really not that bad; that’s an exaggeration and a lie, everything is exaggeration, the only truth is longing, which cannot be exaggerated.” Very true.

He also expressed some truly compelling thoughts regarding the nature of letter writing itself: “Writing letters is actually an intercourse with ghosts and by no means just with the ghost of the addressee but also with one’s own ghost, which secretly evolves inside the letter one is writing or even in a whole series of letters[…] How did people ever get the idea they could communicate with one another by letter!” So beautifully put! But then Kafka, even in his personal correspondence, and though he despaired of being able to successfully communicate through such a medium, simply wasn’t capable of writing with anything less than this type of evocative brilliance.


As always, spending time in Kafka’s head was strange and wondrous, though at times, I have to admit, I felt cramped, even claustrophobic. Reading these letters, you are surrounded by his love, warmth, and heartfelt honesty, but no less by his insecurities, neuroses, anguish, and fear:

Still, after all’s said and done, I really can’t think of many other heads I’d care to inhabit.
Profile Image for Nahed.E.
595 reviews1,488 followers
June 12, 2019

عزيزتي ميلينا

مازلت آمل في الحصول علي رسالة منك كل يوم .. إن المرء بالصدفة رأسمالي لا يدرك كل الأشياء التي يمتلكها
لكنني مرهق ! إن ما حدث هو أن العقل لم يكن ليحتمل مزيدا من الهموم والمعاناة المكومة فوق عاتقه ، إنه يقول : لقد عجزت عن تحمل ذلك ، لكن لابد من من وجود ثمة من يواصل الاهتمام بسلامة كل شئ ، ويجب عليه عليه أن يخلصني من بعض عبئي ، وستظل الأمور سائرة في طريقها بعض الوقت .. فأنا
لا أستطيع أن أفكر في أي شئ الآن .. إن ما افعله عن طيب خاطر، وبكل الفرح .. أنني أصب نفسي في الخوف

ولكن ما الذي يمكنني أن افعله لو ظل هذا الخوف ينبض في جسدي بدلا من القلب ؟
فالشئ الأساسي الواضح ، أن يعيش أمرؤ حياة إنسانية في الجو الذي يحيط بي مستحيل


عزيزتي .. أي حياة سهلة تلك التي سنمضيها معاً .. تصوري الكتابة عن حياتنا هذه معاً ، إنني لست سوي شخص أحمق ، سؤال وجواب ، وأحدنا في مواجهة الآخر ، يبدو لي حينئذ أننا سنتمكن بدلا من الحياة أن نستلقي فحسب في رضا أحدنا بجانب الآخر لكي نستقبل الموت ، لكن مهما يحدث من أمر ، فسيكون ذلك إلي جوارك
عليك بعد هذا أن ترتاحي مطمئنة كاطمئناني ، سأبقي منتظراً في آخر يوم ، كما انتظرت في اليوم الأول


إن ما تمثلينه لي يا ميلينا ، هو بالنسبة لي شئ يتجاوز كل العالم الذي نعيش فيه ، شئ لا يوجد في القصاصات اليومية من الأوراق التي ظللت اكتبها لك
أريد ففط أن أدفن وجهي في صدرك ، وأحس بيدك هي تمسح علي رأسي، وأن أظل هكذا إلي نهاية الأبدية


إن كتابة الرسائل في حقيقتها محادثة مع الأشباح .. وليس فقط مع شبح المستلم للرسالة .. بل أيضاً شبح المرء مع نفسه ، ذلك الذي ينمو بين سطور الرسالة التي يكتبها المرء .. وهذه الرسائل في حقيقتها لا نفع فيها سوي أنها تسبب العذاب .. العذاب الذي لا شفاء منه ..
ولو كانت لا تسببه لكانت عندئذ أشد سوءاَ

فاكتبي لي يا ميلينا .. اكتبي لي يومياً .. حتي وإن كان سطراً أو سطرين ..
إن حرماني من هذا السطر الواحد ، سيكون معناه عذابي الرهيب


عذاب حقيقي هذه الرسائل ...
ظللت معها لأيام ووجدتني متأثرة للغاية بما أقرأه ، وكأنها طبعت علي روحي من عذابها .. أية حياة تلك التي عاشها كافكا وميلينا ؟ أية حياة، وأية أيام تلك التي يمكن أن تمضي هكذا في رسائل هي الحياة في حد ذاتها ، فدونها لا العمر عمر ، ولا الأيام تستحق .. ولا الفرحة يمكن أن تقترب .. فلا فرحة ولا ابتسامة في هذه الرسائل .. فقط الانتظار .. انتظار لسطر أو سطرين يهبا الحياة في صبر واطمئنان أن كلاهما لا يزال يحيا في هذا العالم
أن تحب هكذا .. بهذه الصورة .. يجعلك لا تعبأ بألم ولا عذاب ولا بمرض .. أنت تحيا فقط مع قلم من تحب .. تخاف عليه .. وتخاف علي نفسك بدونه ، فهو البقاء والاستمرارية ، هو من يسمعك ، يفهمك ، يحيا مثلك رغم بعد المسافات ، يُكملك في معاناتك وشكواك دون ملل أو ضيق .. فلا ضيق هنا حتي من الشكوي ، فحتي الشكوي تحبها .. هو حب دون تعب إلا من تعب الانتظار
وتعب العذاب الاختياري الذي تختاره بإرادتك لتهّون علي نفسك عذاب أكبر بدونه
Profile Image for Buck.
158 reviews872 followers
Want to read
December 2, 2009
Truth be told, I’m not ‘currently reading’ anything except hockey boxscores and those breezy MSN articles with titles like “Eight Signs She’s Into You” (what can I say? I eat that shit up.)

Anyway, it’s probably not a good idea to read about a twisted, anguished, tragically thwarted love affair when one’s own romantic life is…unsatisfactory. Still, skimming through Kafka’s weird, eloquent Letters to Milena got me thinking: how come nobody writes love letters anymore? Flirty emails, yes; bitter, rambling post-breakup letters—sure, who hasn’t written a few? But an honest-to-goodness, balls-out, you-complete-me sort of love letter: who does that?

I’m not the most romantic guy in the world, but I find it a little sad to think that we’ll probably never see another book like this, because if there’s a modern-day Kafka out there somewhere, he’s busy jabbing ‘r u horny 2?’ into his keypad. There’s something to be said for concision, I guess.
Profile Image for Araz Goran.
815 reviews3,486 followers
May 21, 2019
هذه الرسائل الموجعة التي كتبها كافكا إلى ميلينا هي من أعمق ما قرأت في وصف الذات، في رصف الشعور بالوحدة، الضعف، اليأس، تكونت لدي فكرة بالغة الوضوح عمن هو كافكا، صفاته، شخصيته ، أحلامه، روحه التي تظهر جلياً في هذه الرسائل على عكس رواياته التي تفضح الأسئلة الوجودية والقلقة في داخل روحه، هنا يظهر كافكا وحيداً، مسلوباً من قدرات كثيرة، قلقاً ذلك القلق البالغ، متابعاً خوفه من خلال ميلينا، في إنتظار رسائلها، في الخوف من عدم اللقاء، الخوف من أن لا يكون مفهوماً بالنسبة لها، الخوف القلق من كونه أمام حبٍ لا يستطيع البوح به ولا يستطيع كتمانه في نفس الوقت، يكتب لميلينا، يتحاور معها روحياً، أعتقد أنه أعطى كل ما لديه لميلينا، ما كان يخبئه إنسان بالغ الحساسية مثل كافكا لفتاة كانت تبلغ من العمر ٢٣ سنة، في حين أن كافكا كان على عتبة الأربعين من عمره، الحاجة إلى الرفقة، إلى الحب، ذلك الغذاء الروحي الذي أفتقده كافكا طيلة حياته، وجد صداه عند ميلينا، وجد عندها التعطش للبوح، لقتل الكتمان، لإعلان الخوف، لإشاعة الفوضى، لضرب قواعد الإنغلاق النفسي والروحي الذي كان يعيشه، ذلك الرعب من كونه لم يعد مفهوماً لأحد، (هل تعلم ما معنى أن لا تكون مفهوماً لأي أحد؟) كافكا يكتب لا جرياً وراء حب عابر ولا لوضع رومانسية مبتذلة تبدأ بلقاء، أو بنظرة حب، ثم إفتراق درامي مبتذل، وضع كافكا كل روحه في الرسائل، إستهلك كل خواطره وإنتظاراته القلقة، تحس ذلك الإنطفاء المتكرر في رسائله، أحياناَ في لاجدوى العلاقة، في ذلك البوح المتقطع، المتردد، تردد كافكا كثيراً، ترددت ميلينا، كلاهما كان على جرف إنتظار لا يطل على أي شيء، كانت مجرد رسائل، قناديل مضيئة، في حياة بائسة ، في ليل طويل، من ليالي كافكا، كانت الرسائل جرحاً ، مداواة، يحرق كافكا رسائل ميلينا أحياناً كي لا يخدش ذاته بجرعة الكلمات التي كانت ميلينا تلقيها على كافكا، لم تكن رسائل عابرة، ولا موحشة، كان في وسع ميلينا أن تقضي ما تبقى من حياتها في التلذذ بقراءة تلك الرسائل، بإيقاظ الروح المتعبة في داخلها، كان لها كنز من الرسائل المتبادلة، كان يثير فضولها برسائلها، كان هو متعلقاً بكل رسائلها، شؤونها، تعلم كيف يجد روحه في كلمات يرسلها، تعلم الإنتظار الحلو، تعلم الوحشة والخوف والوحدة، كان معها وحيداً أكثر من اللازم، الحب بهذا البعد يجلب وحدة زائدة ورغبة في الإنعزال عن كل شيء، كان زواج ميلينا والتزامها نحو زوجها هو الذي سبب كل ذلك البؤس لها ولكافكا، الرسائل لديه كانت اشبه بمخدر لاذع ومقلق، وغير قابل للتوقف الفجائي، كانت رسائل مدهشة ، عميقة، مكتوبة بدماء العزلة الزكية وبقلم الخوف والقلق والرهبة من الحياة ..

في النهاية تعب كافكا، تعب الإنتظار، اللاجدوى، القلق الذي كانت تبديه ميلينا، كان مجروحاً من كونه أمام حب غير قابل للتحقق، من جانب ميلينا ومن جانب خوفه هو، أعدم لقاءات الرسائل بينه وبينها بطلقة وحشد من لوم الذات، من عدم اليقين في شيء، من الخوف الذي كان يجده في ميلينا، كان عليه أن يوقف زحف ذلك التردد، والفناء في اللاشيء سوى ممارسة المزيد من الوحدة مع شبح بعيد المنال، كأنه كان يرسل قبلات لشبح بعيد، وكما عبر عن ذلك بكونه من خلال تبادل الرسائل يقبل أو يزني بشبح غير موجود، شبح قابل للتكرار وغير قابل للرصد، مشاعر مكتومة تبعث على البؤس، أراد كافكا أن يوقفها ، ففعل ذلك..

لعل كتابة الرسا��ل هي من أهم الإختراعات البشرية، ومن أكثرها حميمية، نجد ذلك بوضوح في هذه الرسائل، نجد الطابع الحميمي غير المبتذل بكلمات الحب الصريحة، هنا لا شيء صريح، غير الكتابة المكلومة بجرح عميق ورغبة في البوح والهذيان والتعطش للرفقة الروحية ..

نحن نحتاج الرسائل في حياتنا بشكل كبير، هي أكثر من تواصل روحي، هو إمتزاج قلبين وروحين فكرتين، عالمين، مدينتين، أهازيج بعيدة ، يفقتر العالم إلى الرسائل، العالم مطمور تحت الكآبة، الرسائل تحي في النفس ما يخربه العالم، ما يعجز الإنسان عن قوله في الواقع، الرسائل تتكفل ببوح الإنسان، بإفراغ الروح من محتواها السيء ومن إعترافاتها الأكثر حميمية وبؤساً ..

وبالمناسبة كتبت ميلينا في الجرائد نعياً لكافكا بعد أيام قليلة من وفاته وهي تصفه على هذا النحو الدقيق :

" توفي قبل أمس كافكا، قلة هم من يعرفونه لأنه كان منعزلًا، حكيمًا يهاب الحياة، كان خجولًا وطيبًا، لكن الكتب التي كتبها قاسية وموجعة، هو أحكم من أن يعيش، وأضعف من أن يقاوم، لكن ضعفه هو ضعف أولئك المرهفين العاجزين عن مواجهة الخوف وسوء الفهم."
Profile Image for Tuqa.
174 reviews78 followers
December 3, 2020
نجمة واحدة لبعض الاقتباسات القليلة التي نالت إعجابي، أما الرسائل بصورة عامة وجدتها خاصة وغير ملفتة، ولا حق لأحد بنشرها كما أراد فرانز كافكا قبل وفاته.
Profile Image for Bob (aka Bobby Lee).
195 reviews77 followers
December 4, 2021
Letters to Milena by Franz Kafka, Philip Boehm (translator). Expanded and revised edition, published by Schocken, 1990, part of the Kafka Library. This edition includes some of Milena's letters to Max Brod, as well as four essays by her and Milena's obituary for Kafka.

This book is a departure from the norm for me, but I've been told that as you age you need to engage in new intellectual stimulations to, hopefully, prolong your brain health. So, when I came across this review on a friend's page, I decided to give it a try and I found it to be incredibly engaging.


Letters to Milena is a book compiled by the letters Franz Kafka wrote to Milena Jesenská. Many of the letters from Kafka to Milena survived and were published after her death despite efforts by her heirs to prevent it. The letters from Milena to Kafka did not survive, but we can infer some things in reading his replies and pleadings.

When the correspondence took place, Milena was twenty-three years old. At that time she lived in Vienna and Kafka's main residence was in Prague. She recognized Kafka’s writing genius before others did, so she asked his permission to translate his short story The Stoker from German to Czech. Such a simple request and formal demand very soon turned into a series of passionate and profound letters that Milena and Kafka exchanged beginning in March 1920. Kafka, 36 years of age, often wrote daily, often several times a day. This is what he tells her: “and write me every day anyway, it can even be very brief, briefer than today’s letters, just two lines, just one, just one word, but if I had to go without them I would suffer terribly.”

From the introduction by the translator, Philip Boehm and other sources, I learned a few things -

* Franz Kafka, (born July 3, 1883, Prague, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary [now in Czech Republic]—died (from tuberculosis) June 3, 1924, Kierling, near Vienna, Austria).

* AND: Milena Jesenská, (born Aug 10, 1896, also Prague - died (from kidney failure) May 17, 1944, Ravensbrück concentration camp, Germany. Her mother, Milena Hejzlarová, died when Milena was 16.

* Probably as a reaction to her father's overbearing behavior, Milena's formative years in Prague were characterized by rebellion and being active in the trendy and partying artist society and developed she her own spiritual aesthetics. She was emancipated, rebellious, extravagant, decadent, daring, and very much in love with beauty.

* In 1918 she married Ernst Pollak, a Jewish intellectual and literary critic whom she met in Prague's literary circles and moved with him to Vienna. The marriage, which allegedly caused her to break off relations with her father for several years, was an unhappy one.

* Kafka was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1917. In the spring of 1920, he traveled to Meran (a Northern Italy spa resort city) where his first surviving letters to Milena were written. This business relationship quickly developed into something more and soon stated to consume his sleep, causing intractable insomnia.

* Kafka's apparent rapture may have physically materialized in two trysts, the first in Vienna, from June 29 to July 4, 1920, and the next, six weeks later in the border town of Gmund. Boehm ends his Introduction with - "As happiness receded into dreams, the passion ended where it began: in sleeplessness. The lovers never really recovered the four days spent in Vienna; these letters were their only progeny. And the ghosts consumed any consolation."

* These letters evolve into excruciatingly personal soul-bearing testaments of his obsession, and it is said that nowhere else does Kafka reveal himself more completely, for to no one did he bare his soul so utterly as to Milena Jesenská.

Kafka wrote ‘Frau Milena’ at least 126 letters between April and December 1920. Here are a few quotes:

* “In a way, you are poetry material; You are full of cloudy subtleties I am willing to spend a lifetime figuring out. Words burst in your essence and you carry their dust in the pores of your ethereal individuality.”

* “Do you know, darling? When you became involved with others you quite possibly stepped down a level or two, but If you become involved with me, you will be throwing yourself into the abyss.”

* “I can't think of anything to write about, I'm just walking around here between the lines, under the light of your eyes, in the breadth of your mouth as in a beautiful happy day, which remains beautiful and happy, even when the head is sick and tired.”

* “Written kisses don't reach their destination, rather they are drunk on the way by the ghosts.”

* “I am always trying to convey something that can’t be conveyed, to explain something which is inexplicable, to tell about something I have in my bones, something which can be expressed only in the bones.”

* "You are so vulnerably haunting; Your eeriness is terrifyingly irresistible."

* "My body, often quiet for years, would then again be shaken by this longing for some very particular, trivial, disgusting thing, something slightly repulsive, embarrassing, obscene, which I always found even in the best cases - some insignificant odor, a little bit of sulphur, a little bit of hell."

* "I don't understand your asking for forgiveness. If it's over it goes without saying that I forgive you. I was only unrelenting as long as it was going on, and then you didn't care. How could I not forgive you for something if it's over! How confused your head must be to even think such a thing."

* "O ye knower of human nature! What do I have against your polishing his boots so beautifully: go ahead and polish them beautifully, then put them in the corner and let it be done with? It's only that you polish them in your mind all day long, sometimes that torments me...."

And MY absolute FAVORITE quote - a gut-wrenching idiom -

* " Milena, you complain about some of my letters that you turn them in all directions, and nothing falls out ..."

My thoughts -

On the one hand there is much revealed in these letters constructed by Kafka - they are sometimes autobiographical, sometimes philosophical or religious criticism, vis a vis the Jewish / Christian element of their differences, sometimes he laments on their age differences, and sometimes attempts at humor. Most importantly, however, the letters themselves do not merely reflect the stages of the relationship, they are the relationship. The letters become "pure anguish," the anguish that "pulls its plow through sleep."

My concern for Milena kept increasing - she was just a 23 year-old girl - ensnared by a 37 year-old eloquent and obsessed successful literary genius.

After about 150 pages of the roller coaster ride of seduction, then apologizing I felt my eyes glazing over, but still I kept going into this jaw-dropping barrage of letters. It was Kafka's self-exposure that kept reeling me back in.

I recommend this book for those readers who:

* are fans of epistolary presentations,
* are fans of Franz Kafka and want a glimpse into his psyche,
* are curious about the (nonfiction) unsuppressed quest of another human being.
Profile Image for Marc.
3,040 reviews1,047 followers
August 28, 2022
Normally I love to read the published correspondence between two historical figures. It is an attractive genre because of the dynamic interaction between two people, and because – when it comes to literati – it often contains rhetorical delights. In some cases, the correspondence is also a nice addition to the biographical details of those involved. Unfortunately, this book was a letdown for me.

To begin with there’s a kind of moral issue, namely that this highly personal correspondence between Franz Kafka and Milena Jesenská was never intended to be published. After all, they are mostly love letters, and what could be more intimate than a relationship that develops between two people, with all the doubts and struggles, ups and downs, passion and frustration that come with it? After a while I felt more like a voyeur than an interested reader.

Two: we only have Kafka's letters to Milena, not the other way around. So we sometimes miss really essential information to understand exactly what Kafka writes. Moreover, I suspect that Milena's letters – if we ignore the voyeuristic aspect for a moment – might have been much more interesting: from Kafka's letters we can infer that the internal struggle was on her side, torn as she was between her love for Kafka and the loyalty to her husband. His letters, on the other hand, show a fairly unambiguous line, certainly in the first half, of his gradually more passionate expression of love, and then of his increasing frustration at the lack of a lasting relationship.

And then there is the important question of whether this exchange of letters teaches us more about Kafka's oeuvre or person. I can be quite brief about the first: Kafka only sporadically refers to his own work in the letters, so as such it adds little. We do learn quite a bit about his poor health condition, which he describes extensively. But above all, the correspondence illustrates the feverishness of Kafka's mental household, his obsessions and frustrations. It is especially striking how derogatory he writes about himself, how hard he is on himself, and how he constantly analyses his feelings and fears. These are the parts that reveal more about his person.

Now, I know that there are several views on the relationship between artists and their work: Kafka seems to me pre-eminently someone whose work should be read in itself, separately from the life of the writer. In fact, these letters to Milena convinced me even more of this stance.
Profile Image for Abdullah.
43 reviews363 followers
November 15, 2014
ميلينا الاسم الأكثر توهجاً من بين كل الأسماء عند كافكا فهو لم يعرف في حياته أشد حباً من ميلينا يسنسكا فهي أكثر من فهم نفسية وأدب كافكا على الرغم من أن كافكا شخصية ذات تركيب نفسي بالغ التعقيد.

-في بداية الرسائل مع ميلينا كان كافكا شخصا عذبا متقلب بين عاطفتي الحب والخوف.
-وجد كافكا في ميلينا المرأة المثقفة المتحررة والأهم أنها"متزوجة" لا تستطيع التخلي عن زوجها، كان كافكا يريد امتلاكها روحياً فقط لكونه يخاف من الزواج الارتباط بالمرأة.

-كان الخوف لغة مسيطرة ونغمة رئيسية في رسائل كافكا، الخوف يشكل محور أعمال كافكا وأدبه،لذلك كان يكتب إلى ميلينا ويقول"بأن أجمل رسائلك كلها هي التي توافقينني فيها على خوفي".
-كان كافكا يتهرب من لقاء ميلينا ،ولم يلتقيان إلا بعد محاولات وطلبات كثيرة من ميلينا للحضور إليها ،وهذا الهروب ليس بجديد كان كافكا يتهرب من خطيبته السابقة فيلس ،كان كثيراً يتظاهر بالانشغال.
-ميلينا في نظر كافكا تمثل نمط الأم في لاوعيّه ،من قرأ سيرة حياة كافكا يعلم بأنه كان يعاني من فتور الحنان في قلب أمه لذلك في بعض الرسائل يدعو ميلينا بـ "الأم ميلينا" وفي موضع آخر من الرسائل يقول:"حديث كنت فيه مخلصاً وجاداً مثل طفل،وكنت أنتِ فيه جادة وواعية كأم ولم أكن قد رأيت قط في الواقع مثل هذا الطفل"،ولا مثل هذه الأم.وفي رسالة أخرى يرغب بالصراخ أمامها كطفل صغير.
-في آخر الرسائل يقل كلام الحب ويعلو صوت التشاؤم وفيها يظهر كافكا بشخصية متوترة و قلقة وعصبية المزاج مع شدة المرض ،أصبح هاجس الموت يتسلل إلى داخله والخوف من فقدان ميلينا .
-الترجمة أفقدت الكثير من جمال الرسائل ،من قرأ ترجمة إبراهيم وطفي لبعض المقاطع القصيرة للرسائل سيلاحظ الفرق لذلك أنا في انتظار ترجمة وطفي لرسائل كافكا الذي يعكف على ترجمتها ولم تصدر حتى الآن.
-بعد وفاة كافكا كتبت ميلينا في صحيفة تشيكية نعياً له قالت فيه:"كتبه مدهشة،وهو نفسه أكثر إثارة للدهشة".
-قصة هذه الرسائل ووفاة ميلينا لا تقل مأساة من قصة من كافكا ،في الآثار الكاملة لكافكا تحدث إبراهيم وطفي:
"عندما احتل هتلر براغ عام 1939 سَلَّمت ميلينا رسائل كافكا إلى صديق يدعى فيلي هاس،وشاركت ميلينا في حركة المقاومة ضد الغزو النازي،وفي أواخر 1939 اعتقلها النازيون ووضعوها في معسكر اعتقال توفيت فيه بتاريخ 17 أيار 1944(بعد 23 يوماً من وفاة ميلينا تم تحرير معسكر الاعتقال وإطلاق سراح المعتقلين).

-قراءة رسائل كافكا إلى ميلينا ضرورية لمن يهتم بأدبه للوقوف على جوانب جديدة من حياته،ألم يكتب كافكا ذات يوم يقول:"كل التعاسة في حياتي سببها الرسائل".
Profile Image for E. G..
1,112 reviews669 followers
June 26, 2016
Introduction, by Philip Boehm
A Note on the Text

--Letters to Milena

Milena Jesenská's Letters to Max Brod
Four Essays by Milena Jesenská: 'Vienna', 'Letters of Notable People', 'A Dream', and 'The Devil at the Hearth'
Milena Jesenská's Obituary for Franz Kafka

Profile Image for Chiara Pagliochini.
Author 5 books380 followers
January 6, 2015
« E dire che in fondo non amo te, ma piuttosto la mia esistenza che tu mi hai donata. »

Nella primavera del 1920, la scrittrice boema Milena Jesenská legge i primi racconti di Kafka e gli scrive per chiedere di poterli tradurre in lingua ceca. Questo è l’inizio di un’appassionata corrispondenza che continuerà fino al 1923. La relazione fu per gran parte condotta attraverso lettere e la loro storia d’amore non ebbe mai un vero futuro. Fu Kafka a porre fine alla relazione. Dopo la sua morte, nel 1924, Milena scrisse in ricordo di lui « condannato a guardare il mondo con una chiarezza così accecante, lo trovò insopportabile e ne morì. »

Nell’approcciarci a un’opera così fortemente auto-biografica come un carteggio, bisogna munirsi di occhiali e cappellino. Occhiali, per saper porre la giusta distanza tra sé e Franz e sempre ricordarsi, ‘tu non sei lui, lui è lui, tu non vuoi e non devi essere lui’. Cappellino, per proteggere la testa dai raggi ultravioletti della partecipazione emotiva, ‘tu non provi quello che provano loro, quello che provano loro lo provavano loro, perché sono persone che veramente hanno amato e si sono scritte’. Il rischio di ustione era alto: lo avevo già corso e ci ero sprofondata dentro con ‘Che tu sia per me il coltello’, che di questo è figlio e parricida. « E forse non è vero amore se dico che tu mi sei la cosa più cara; amore è il fatto che tu sei per me il coltello col quale frugo dentro me stesso ». Non volevo essere Franz e Milena come son stata Yair e Myriam, perché Yair e Myriam sono pur sempre creature di finzione, nelle quali è legittimo immedesimarsi, ma pretendere di capire le ragioni di Franz e le ragioni di Milena, pretendere di sentire quel che sentono loro è un delirio di onnipotenza e, come se non bastasse, è impossibile.
La prova fondamentale del fatto che Franz e Milena si amassero consiste in questo: che si capivano. Pur utilizzando un mezzo imperfetto, un mezzo senza corpo come sono le parole, Franz e Milena si capivano, e questo è straordinario. Il lettore, invece, non capisce nulla, le date, le abbreviazioni, i sottointesi lo stordiscono. Vorrebbe entrare nella pagina e continuamente se ne sente respinto. Si chiede, ‘ma come poteva la povera Milena cavarci qualcosa da tutta questa confusione? come riusciva a sbrogliare il groviglio? che grimaldello usava?’. L’amore, usava l’amore, quell’amore che, una volta raggiunto un certo grado di intesa e di condivisione, necessita di mezzi di espressione così minimi, così fiacchi, da essere del tutto incomprensibili a un ascoltatore esterno. Franz e Milena si capivano perché pensavano alla stessa cosa, sempre alla stessa cosa, e pensavano alla stessa cosa perché amavano e, amandosi, erano l’uno e l’altra insieme. « Ieri ho sognato di te. Non ricordo più quasi i singoli fatti, so soltanto che di continuo ci trasformavamo l’uno nell’altro, io ero tu, tu eri io ».
In una delle prime lettere, Franz definisce con un’immagine straordinaria il suo rapporto con Milena:
« Credo, Milena, che noi due abbiamo una particolarità in comune: siamo tanto timidi e ansiosi, quasi ogni lettera è diversa, quasi ciascuna si spaventa della precedente, e, più ancora, della risposta. Lei non lo è per natura, lo si vede facilmente, e io, forse, nemmeno io lo sono per natura, ma ciò è quasi diventato natura, e si dilegua soltanto nella disperazione, tutt’al più nell’ira, e, da non dimenticare, nell’angoscia.
Talora ho l’impressione che abbiamo una camera con due porte, l’una di fronte all’altra, e ognuno stringe la maniglia di una porta e basta un batter di ciglia dell’uno perché l’altro sia già dietro la sua porta e basta che il primo dica una sola parola, il secondo ha già certamente chiuso la porta dietro di sé e non si fa più vedere. Egli riaprirà, sì, la porta, perché si tratta di una camera che forse non si può lasciare. Se non fosse esattamente come il secondo, il primo starebbe tranquillo, preferirebbe, in apparenza, non guardare neanche verso il secondo, metterebbe lentamente in ordine la camera, quasi fosse una camera come qualunque altra, ma invece fa esattamente la stessa cosa presso la sua porta, talvolta persino tutti e due sono di là dalle porte e la bella camera è vuota. »

È un’immagine spiazzante sulle prime. Ci si interroga su che cosa voglia dire. Ci ho pensato un po’ su e credo che voglia dire questo: una relazione come quella tra Franz e Milena è una versione raffinata del gioco del nascondino o del ‘uno, due, tre, stella!’. Per ogni passo avanti, se ne fanno dieci indietro. Per ogni ardore esposto, ce ne sono cento altri soffocati. Tuttavia, nonostante sia pieno di fastidi, nonostante metta in crisi l’uno e l’altra, il gioco non si può lasciare, va giocato tutto fino in fondo, finché uno dei due non fa ‘tana!’ o non arriva a toccare il muro gridando ‘stella!’. È un gioco sfibrante, perché il bambino non si allontana dal suo nascondiglio per paura di essere scoperto; viceversa, l’altro bambino non può allontanarsi dalla tana per non lasciarla sguarnita. Se non capitano incidenti nel mezzo, è un gioco che tende infinitamente a continuare.

Il perché di queste oscillazioni tra il desiderio e il pudore va cercato nella personalità di Kafka. Franz è afflitto da un senso di colpa atavico, quasi razziale (l’ebreo che è in lui ruggisce a ogni cantone), che lo previene nei rapporti con l’altro, costringendolo a interagire a un livello sempre di inferiorità e di lordura. « Milena, non si tratta di questo, tu non sei per me una signora, sei una fanciulla, non ho mai visto nessuna che fosse tanto fanciulla, non oserò porgerti la mano, fanciulla, la mano sudicia, convulsa, unghiuta, incerta e tremula, cocente e fredda ». Per questo io non credo che da parte di Franz ci fosse della viltà, della paura per Milena, l’orrore del passo, il baratro sullo scalino, ma semplicemente una consapevolezza esasperata delle proprie mancanze, gonfiate dalla sua coscienza fino a essere l’unico orizzonte possibile. Non è che Kafka non allunghi la gamba per fare il passo: è che, nel suo masochismo ingenuo, pensa di non averla neanche una gamba.
Ma la gamba ce l’ha e Milena la vede e noi sentiamo gli strattoni che dà, i pizzichi sul polpaccio, li sentiamo anche se di Milena non leggiamo nulla. Niente, tranne qualche inciso ingrato, incastonato nelle lettere di risposta. Milena, nella sua generosità di donna, vede, pazienta e sa. E soffre. E anche il lettore soffre e vorrebbe strillare e strattonare le sbarre della gabbia arrugginita che Franz s’è costruito intorno, ma c’è poco da macchinare: le difese sono tutte alzate, il nemico (il salvatore) non passerà.

L’affievolirsi e poi lo spegnersi del carteggio è una naturale conseguenza derivata dalle premesse. Nella tortura auto-inflittasi e inflitta a Milena, Franz è un esecutore implacabile, logico, spietato, mai una deviazione dal regolamento. ‘Ho deciso che non posso essere felice? Così sia. Non posso essere felice neanche se la felicità mi sta a tre centimetri dalle dita. Ho deciso che felice non posso esserlo, se lo fossi tradirei me stesso, se tradisco me stesso sono perduto per sempre. E allora perché venir meno alla coerenza allungando le dita? Resti pure dove sta, questa felicità. Io non me la merito.’
È così terribile che viene voglia di fuggire. E fuggire bisogna. E cercare l’aria aperta. E respirare a pieni polmoni quel cielo pieno di possibilità che nessuno dovrebbe mai negare a se stesso. A che vale? La vita ci punisce tutti i giorni e tutti i giorni ci premia. Risparmiamo a noi stessi altre punizioni, ma non risparmiamoci mai altri premi.

Post-scriptum: per dovere di cronaca, Franz e Milena si incontrarono più volte, sia nel sogno sia nella realtà. Cosa accadde durante questi incontri al lettore è lasciato soltanto immaginare. Se ne parla in più missive, ma mai in modo esplicito. Dopotutto, quel che accadde è affar loro, lo ricordavano bene, se lo ricordavano a vicenda. Non c’era davvero bisogno di darne una descrizione. Non sembra che questi incontri abbiano mai nociuto alla letterarietà della loro corrispondenza né che li abbiano in qualche modo disaffezionati. Semmai, tutto il contrario.
Profile Image for Tanya.
58 reviews118 followers
February 16, 2020
Dear Franz,

I hope you’ve finally found contentment wherever you are unlike when you were in this appalling world. It rather astounds me to read your letters to your love, Milena because they are the most private correspondence possible that I almost feel ashamed of having read them now. It’s as if getting to know a man beyond his grave so I felt morally bankrupt when I was done. The vulnerability with which you describe your feelings towards an obscure lover is not something that’s seeking empathetic eyes, but schlepping the preeminent essence of what we all possess: Insecurities.
Oh, how valiantly you wear them, communicate them with utmost diligence and sincerity, I couldn’t help but fall in love at an instant!
I had my first encounter with you when I accidentally stumbled upon one of your short stories, In The Penal Colony. The eerie of the story had me cracking my head over gathering all information about why you wrote what you wrote which still remains a mystery of sorts.

The letters, the letters, Franz, they aren’t the most romantic ones but definitely real, so real that one cannot fail to feel your concern and the long-distance intimacy for your irreproachable lover. Oh, I understand the art and challenge of writing letters is as tiresome as beautiful. Words can be cruel, can be highly misunderstood, especially in letters that might get delayed or lost in transit. With each passing day along the timeline I could only grow fonder and feel a petulant non-satiable love with numerous uncertainties. My dear Franz, you were right, anyone who has loved this much is nothing short of selfish, and that is alright, there’s nothing like altruistic love. After all, only a desperate one knows how to give all the love and yearns for it in the same magnitudes in return.

I left all my judgements in anticipation of the replies from the other side and also, because I know what it takes to love in distance. Wait manifests deep hunger but that turns a meal to a feast. Waiting comes with its rewards, that might be true but you sure know the crippling frustration of it, so I now wait for a letter which I know would never arrive.

with love,
a fellow yearning human
Profile Image for Tokka Mostafa.
78 reviews43 followers
May 7, 2021
طبعاً كبداية بعتذر للقول أن كتاب رسائل إلى ميلينا ما هو الا أكذوبة كبيرة وأعتقد سبب الضجة حوله هو فقط لبيع نسخ أكتر من قبل دور النشر.

أولاً: تصوير علاقة كافكا بميلينا على أساس ��ونها علاقة عذرية تمثل قمة الحب والوفاء هو جهل تام بتاريخ كافكا في حياته الشخصية وكونه أعتاد كتابة الرسائل للنساء وليست ميلينا وحدها فقد مر عليه أربع نساء مختلفات لكل منهن قصتها وهن:

فيليس خطيبته والتي تركها قبل الزفاف لمجرد أضطراباته الشخصية وخوفه من اللقاء الجسدي بالنساء والعلاقات طويلة الأمد،

الثانية هي غريت بلوخ صديقة فيليس التي إستعانت بها لعودتها لكافكا وعودة خطبتهما فأحبها كافكا وبدأ في كتابة الرسائل لها.

والثالثة كانت ميلينا التي أشتهرت رسائله معها أكثر من غيرها وسبب حبه لميلينا كان لأنها متزوجة وتقطن بعيداً عنه فيستطيع ببراعة لعب دور الضحية في حب مستحيل مع ضمان أستحالة تواجدهما معاً بسبب زواجها، كانت ميلينا مثالية لكافكا لهذين السببين،

الرابعة والأخيرة والتي رافقته في موته بداء السل كانت دورا التي أخلصت له الحب حتى وفاته.

أربع نساء في حياة كافكا أو أربع ضحايا لإنعدام ثقته بنفسه وبأضطرابات طفولته أنتجت أربعة قصص حب غير مكتملة تكون فيها المرأة مجني عليها في الواقع وجانية في نظر كافكا. لا تنخدع برسائل كافكا فهو كاتب يعرف كيف يسطر الكلمات ليبين الحب العميق ولكنه لا يفعل ما يدل على الحب هو مدمن للعذاب ليس أكثر.

رسائله لميلينا مملة كلها أضطرابات وتعذيب للأخر ولنفسه وكلها تجعل القاريء يشفق على ميلينا من هذا الشخص ويتسائل لماذا تضع ميلينا نفسها في هذا الموقف من الدخول في علاقة مع شخص مضطرب وهي متزوجة.

أنصح من لم يقرأ الكتاب أن لا يضيع وقته عليه إلا إذا كان مهتم بمعرفة جوانب نفسية ومضطربة في شخصية كافكا العاشق من ورق ذلك الواهم والموهوم.

أنصح بقراءة مقال فرح جبر: كافكا والنساء... المرأة كائن الكتابة لتزيين الجثة بالأنوار
للتعرف اكثر على شخصية هذا الكافكا قبل قراءة الكتاب.
Profile Image for Taghreed Jamal El Deen.
627 reviews539 followers
March 8, 2021
قرأته للمرة الثانية بنسختين مختلفتين، وأستطيع أن أؤكد لكم أنه لم يكتب لها : " أنا سيء، بائس، غير صالح للعلاقات .. "، ولم ترد عليه ب : " وإن كنت مجرد جثة في العالم فأنا أحبك. "

لن تجد هنا غراميات ورسائل حب ملتهبة؛ بل بوح لشخص متعب وهارب من كل شيء، وقد وجد أخيراً متكّأ لروحه المنهكة.
Profile Image for olivia.
326 reviews800 followers
February 27, 2023
you are the knife I turn inside myself, this is love.
Profile Image for Asma(◡‿◡✿).
163 reviews209 followers
January 30, 2023

" حبيبتي...إنك كشعاع متوهج من العواطف يغطي الكون يضمني نحوه بشدة، إن ضوئك لا يمكن أن يُهدى لهولاء المعتكفين على أنفسهم، إنما لهؤلاء من يمتلكون البصيرة "

☼︎رسالة صفراء هوت بلا إستئذان بين مسافتين...بين روحين، واستقرت بنعومة داخل جوفين متعطشين للحب...للحنان...للإهتمام وفي نفس الوقت كانا جوفين مرتجفين من خبايا الشوق ..الخوف والحيرة.

" أنت يا ميلينا بالنسبة لي شيء تجاوز وجوده الوجود...فأنت المدى الذي لا نهاية له وليس للعالم أن يضع له حدود "

☼︎وما وقود الحب سوى الشجاعة...وذاك ما افتقدته ميلينا البائسة التي وقفت متأرجحة متصلِّبة بين حياتين، فعاشت بدل التعاسة تعاستين !
محنتها في حياة زوجية منتهية الصلاحية منذ زمن من جهة...وانفجار طعم النجوم والورود والشفاه في خلجاتها من جهة أخرى...ذاك الطعم اللذيذ الملفوف بمفرقعات سحرية فاتنة تجعلك تبتسم حتى وإن سقطت على رأسك في حفرة تعج بالزواحف والقذارة !

"إن كتابة الرسائل تعني التجرد أمام الأشباح، وهو ما تنتظره الأشباح في نهم، فقبلاتنا المكتوبة لا تصل إلى أفواهنا ولا تبلغ غايتها...إن الأشباح تلتقطها في الطريق"

☼︎تصدّعت صومعة ذاك العشق ونسفت الرياح بقطعه متناثرةً هائمةً في صحراء اليأس... فما الذي يمكن للإنسان أن يجنيه من أمل هشيش...من إرادة فقيرة...من انتظار يحتضر... من لمسة ورق...من حب منسلخ ؟!

" متى لهذا العالم المجنون أن يستقيم ؟! "


🍃أدب الرسائل و آه من أدب الرسائل...أدب حميميٌّ عميق مزلزل يعكس صدق النفوس والعلاقات، يُعرِّي القشرة عن لُبِّها فيتوضح كُنْهُها وأصيلها...غير أن هذه الرسائل التي حملت بين طياتها الكثير من الرغبات والخيبات لم تستطع إيصال ذلك بصورة جليّة...تمنيت لو كتبت بالقوة التي تجعلك تلتهم كل رسالة وكأنها آخر قطعة من الكعك في الدنيا و تدفعك من بعدها إلى تجفيف ندى جبينك وانتظار انتظام نبض قلبك واعتدال التوازن في عقلك...لم أتمكن من الذوبان داخل حروفها ولا الإندماج مع أحاسيسها كما يجب عليه أن يكون الإندماج والذوبان...نتيجة فقدان الشاعرية في الأسلوب والميل إلى الإطناب في مواضع لا تستحق الإطناب فيها ولربما كان للترجمة أيضا يد في ذاك الحرمان الذي لا يغتفر.

🍃إجتماع كافكا بميلينا وعيشهما معا لم يكن بالحلم المستحيل مطلقا...فالمستحيل هو فقط ما يصنعه الإنسان لنفسه، لو حسمت ميلينا أمرها عندما توضحت مشاعرها إتجاه كافكا وانفصلت عن زوج قد سبق وتركته في الماضي، لرقصت في سماء الحرية والبدايات الجديدة بدل رقصها على مسرح من الغدر والشقاء، ورغم جمالية الرسائل فقد خلقت أزمة أُضيفت إلى أزمات الفراق...سوء الفهم الذي نخر في الأرواح حتى أوصلها إلى الإنطفاء و الفناء...

✔︎رسائل كافكا إلى ميلينا رسائل تستحق القراءة بالرغم من هالتها المشوبة بالجلف والسطحية...وتعتبر كنزا مهما في أدب الرسائل الرومانسية.

Profile Image for Edita.
1,293 reviews378 followers
March 17, 2018
With my teeth clenched, however, and with your eyes before me I can endure anything: distance, anxiety, worry, letterlessnes. [...] With you in my heart I can bear everything, and even if I did write that the days without letters were horrifying, it’s not true; they were just horribly difficult—the boat was heavy and it’s draught was horribly deep, but on your tide it floated nonetheless. There’s only one thing I cannot bear without your express help, Milena: the “fear.” I’m much too weak for that, it’s so immense I cannot see beyond it—and this monstrous flood is washing me away.
I am constantly trying to communicate something incommunicable, to explain something inexplicable, to tell about something I only feel in my bones and which can only be experienced in those bones. Basically it is nothing other than this fear we have so often talked about, but fear spread to everything, fear of the greatest as of the smallest, fear, paralyzing fear of pronouncing a word, although this fear may not only be fear but also a longing for something greater than all that is fearful.
Profile Image for Hoda Elsayed.
399 reviews801 followers
December 5, 2017
إن ما تمثلينه بالنسبة لي يا ميلينا، هو شيء يتجاوز كل العالم الذ�� نعيش فيه،
شيء لا يوجد في القصاصات اليومية من الأوراق التي ظللت أكتبها لك.
هذه الرسائل في حقيقتها لا نفع فيها سوى أنها تسبب العذاب، فلو كانت لا تسببه لكانت عندئذ أشد سوءَا.
إنها لا تيمكنها ان تفعل سوى أن تنتج أشكالَا من سوء التفاهم،والإذلال، دائمًا الإذلال المتصل.
أريد أن أراك في مثل الوضوح الذي رأيتك عيه أول مرة في الشارع،
إلا أن الرسائل تشوش أكثر مما يفعل كل شارع بكل ضوضائه.
Profile Image for ash ✩‧₊˚.
277 reviews658 followers
Want to read
January 2, 2023
a real one wouldn't ask for my snap, they'd say "you are the knife i turn inside myself; that is love. that, my dear, is love." :)
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