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Love Letter from Franz Kafka to Felice Bauer

(11 November 1912)

Excerpt:

Fräulein Felice!

I am now going to ask you a favor which sounds quite crazy, and which I should regard as such, were I the one to receive the letter. It is also the very greatest test that even the kindest person could be put to. Well, this is it:

Write to me only once a week, so that your letter arrives on Sunday—for I cannot endure your daily letters, I am incapable of enduring them. For instance, I answer one of your letters, then lie in bed in apparent calm, but my heart beats through my entire body and is conscious only of you. I belong to you; there is really no other way of expressing it, and that is not strong enough. But for this very reason I don’t want to know what you are wearing; it confuses me so much that I cannot deal with life; and that’s why I don’t want to know that you are fond of me. If I did, how could I, fool that I am, go on sitting in my office, or here at home, instead of leaping onto a train with my eyes shut and opening them only when I am with you?...



Franz Kafka (1883 - 1924) He came from a middle class family, his father ran a dry goods story; his mother came from a well-to-do family.  Franz started working for an insurance company in 1907 and worked for much of his life as an insurance official. Franz had been trying his hand at writing since 1898. His extraordinary fictional literary works were written largely in his spare time and many of his novels were not published until after his death from tuberculosis in 1924.

He first met Felice Bauer (1887 - 1960) on August 13, 1912 and proposed to her in 1913.  In July 1914 he called off their engagement but kept writing to her. Three years later, in July 1917, he proposed to Felice again.  As it happened, Franz was diagnosed with tuberculosis one month later, which spelled the end of their relationship. Felice went on to marry another man in 1919, but kept Franz’s letters.

Despite his failing health, Kafka continued to have numerous affairs over the next seven years. By 1924, however, his health had severely plummeted and he died on June 3, 1924.

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