This is an interesting work of non-fiction that on the whole is a biographical tale from the perspective of Gustav Janouch. I believe that one could almost call it a classic of the biographical art. However since I have read very few biographical works that are forty to fifty years old I hold my judgement until I have examined works others consider to be classic biographies.Conversations With Kafka
is a series of different conversations between Janouch and his mentor Franz Kafka (who could have guessed?). It was an insightful piece of work into the life of Kafka who is regarded as one of the greatest literary thinkers of the 20th Century if not all time. And what I saw here in this work is who Kafka was when not analysed by critics in the thousands of other works available. He was a brilliant mind who lived and breathed and was in every way human.
Kafka was also precognitive as he recognised that eventually the Jewish people would be segregated and attacked by an increase in anti-Semitism. He could read the warning signs of another war that would arise years after his death (although he saw it perhaps as happening in his time). In many ways it showed me that Kafka could see World War 2 happening and in some extent the Holocaust (he was a Czech Jew).
What I also learned is that Kafka felt like he carried prison bars within his soul. He felt burdened by his life, entrapped by the society around him. And as such this was a highly useful text to read in order to look at The Metamorphosis
through the lens of understanding Kafka. But perhaps the most important thing and the greatest reason for reading this is summed up by Janouch. While thousands of books have been written about Kafka and many theories made about his works very few writers have known the man in the same intimacy as Janouch. Kafka was a living man, a figure who existed in full essence of life and this book reveals an insight into that man while he was still alive.