Few twentieth century authors have had as widespread an impact on modern literature as Franz Kafka. Even fewer bio...moreFOR THE LOVE OF A GENIUS NAMED KAFKA
Few twentieth century authors have had as widespread an impact on modern literature as Franz Kafka. Even fewer biographers have managed to serve their subject so well as Ernst Pawel does the eternally enigmatic Kafka in THE NIGHTMARE OF REASON: A LIFE OF FRANZ KAFKA.
If ever the term "tortured genius" was applicable to one of the giants of literary history, it was without question to the Prague-born Jewish author Franz Kafka. Born July 3, 1883, to this day Kafka is celebrated worldwide for the seemingly bizarre, amorphous, surrealistic, and yet pin-point precise writing that characterizes such classics as his novels “The Trial” and “The Castle,” and his story “Metamorphosis.” What most readers don't realize, and what Ernst Pawel makes so stunningly clear in “The Nightmare of Reason,” is that Kafka's phenomenal work represents a true-to-life rendering of the emotional trauma, religious persecution, political oppression, and physical anguish he suffered throughout his life.
In the course of weaving together the historical and spiritual threads that bound the different elements of Kafka's existence, Pawel sheds much-needed light on one of the most famous father-son relationships in literary culture. In his wisdom, Pawel illustrates how both Franz and his father Hermann Kafka were largely products of their political and social times--an era that saw the unapologetic murderous oppression of Jews in Europe, ongoing debates over Zionism, and eruptions of war around the globe.
The grace with which Kafka navigated chronic illnesses, held down a demanding job as an insurance claims administrator, pursued serious literary ambitions, and compassionately addressed the needs of others, made him appear more than human in the eyes of some. That his biological clock seemed to stop around the age of 20 did little to persuade them differently.
In his biography of the author, Pawel allows readers to feel the full weight of pain in Kafka's life so we come to understand what it means for a dedicated writer of his caliber to struggle past the agony of accumulated wounds and transform unrelenting affliction--if not into ecstasy capable of saving the life of the writer, then at least into art capable of inspiring humanity to address the danger of its absurd and deadly vanities. As much as he was beset by demons or sorrow, Kafka was also blessed by the company of such angels as his courageous younger sister Ottla, his legendary off-and-on-again fiancé Felice Bauer, the famed political journalist Milena Jesenska, and the passionately devoted Dora Diamant. Just as he empowered each with his knowledge and influence, so did each in turn serve as sources of strength and refuge in his many hours of profound need. In his account of their place in Kafka's life, there's never a need for Pawel to exaggerate because the humbling facts speak so persuasively for themselves. Had it not been for his friend Max Brod, few people outside European literary circles would likely have ever heard of Kafka.
As amazing as “The Nightmare of Reason” is for its full-dimensional treatment of Kafka, it is equally so for Pawel's examination of the roots of modern anti-Semitism. The insights gleaned from his account of the irrational fears and exaggerated accusations that eventually gave rise to the Holocaust are not without their use in 2007. Consequently, reading the book is not only an excellent way to explore the creative depths and historical substance that produced Kafka's art. It is also a powerful way to reexamine those tendencies which lead humanity to blindly destroy that which it does not easily understand, and to reclaim the ability to transform fear into knowledge, then knowledge into the power to heal, and healing into a greater capacity for love.
the essential rumi is a more than worthy introduction to the enchanted spiritual poetics of jalaluddin rumi.[return][return]rumi� s famed mad dancing...morethe essential rumi is a more than worthy introduction to the enchanted spiritual poetics of jalaluddin rumi.[return][return]rumi� s famed mad dancing and his inspired utterances of pure genius gave birth to a major religious order known today as the whirling dervishes. his writings have influenced not only persian literature but world literature and world spirituality. his richly inspired work has been translated and published in languages all over the globe. in english alone, there are more than a dozen writers and scholars who frequently publish volumes of rumi� s work. interpretations of his poetry have been recorded as musical compositions by such diverse individuals as motivational speaker deepak chopra and famed music producers graeme revell and roger mason, among numerous others. [return][return]in addition, calendars, biographies, web sites, and discussion groups all based on the life and passion of rumi are in plentiful supply. rumi himself in many parts of the world is greatly revered as a saint. when he died, representatives from every major religion hailed him as one of their own. [return][return]aberjhani[return]author of visions of a skylark dressed in black[return]and encyclopedia of the harlem renaissance(less)