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Lifelong dream

A scholar

“In response, there is a whole scholarly arsenal wielded by Mr. Gelber and others showing that Kafka learned Hebrew (his exercise books with vocabulary still exist), took the Zionist project seriously and had even hoped to move here. In 1949, for example, Kafka’s last lover, Dora Diamant, in whose arms he is said to have died a quarter century earlier, wrote to Mr. Brod saying Kafka’s lifelong dream was “to make aliya and come to Israel,” using the Hebrew word for immigration to Israel,” writes Ethan Bronner in today’s Times in an article about the archives of Max Brod’s secretary.
Also in the article: “The last time a scholar was permitted into the apartment was in the 1980s. Later, Ms. Hoffe sold the manuscript for “The Trial” for $2 million. No one knows what remains.” A beautiful sentence: “The last time a scholar was permitted into the apartment was in the 1980s.”


51 comments Last comment
Kafka's back again. Especially with the new things found in his secretary's house. People are even saying he was a big porn-buff (and bought pornographic cards from his friend-publisher Whatshisname with sick things on it) although others deny it.
Dear Dens
On 2008/08/17 you wrote: "Aah, the (old(er)) writer and the younger girl, or boy.. It's so common. "
On the same day I asked: "To what cases are you referring ..."
You replied: "But on the top of my mind I think of Thomas Mann, Nabokov, The writer in Diary of a bad year (Coetzee), B.E. Ellis, the man in Tirza "

I did some homework but the cases you're referring to 'on the top of your mind' [*which is not the right expression by the way*] are not very convincing (see below). Could you be a bit more specific? Since you talk about "so much more, so much more"

Thomas Mann – 1875
Katharina Hedwig Pringsheim – 1883
age difference: 8 years

Vladimir Vladimirovitsj Nabokov 1899
Vera Slomin (couldn't find here birth date)

B.E. Ellis 1964
x - divorced
Jayne Dennis 1966
age difference: 2 years

'Diary of a bad year' and Tirza are books I don’t know.

Thank you,
Well, then I suggest you better start reading, Eric. If Kafka can learn Hebrew, you can learn Dutch. If you already know Dutch, you should be ashamed of being on this blog and not knowing Tirza.
A shame he didn't make it to Zion...
@Eric, Warhol loved youth, its innocence and beauty. Look at it this way: Dens is the de Caprio of this blog. Unfortunately, within time he will grow old, his eyes will droop and his belly will sag. He may even become a dull, grumpy old perfectionist who spends the rest of his days angry at youth for having betrayed him.
Why is it a shame?
No, because his dream didn't come true.
Maybe it wasn't a truely big dream, otherwise he would have made it happen.
truely= truly
Why be ashamed of not having read Tirza when on this blog? I haven't read any of our host's novels. (I stopped reading novels about 10 years ago). Any shame should be in what you write, not in what you read.
Dear Sandy
Is the book worth it?
If you compare it with an other book, let's say 'Der Tod in Venedig 'of Thomas Mann. On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you grade it?

Please, don't feel obliged to read any of my books or any other book.
To be proud of not readings novels is not necessary either.
Dear Arnon,
did I give you the impression that I am proud of not reading novels?


Ellis has admitted an interest in young boys.
Vladimir wrote about an intellectual with an interest in young girls
Thomas Mann was known for his love for young boys
etc etc.
Oscar Wilde for instance was married with kids, do you think he wasn't gay?

@Noa, what's a caprio?
Dear Dens
Ah, I see...didn't know about Ellis and Mann's intrest for young boys. And Wilde married with kids...(?)... a few?, a couple?
You google better then I do.
Then I don't quite get your last question, especially in combination with the 'kids'.
And do *you* think 'Tirza' is worth reading?

Thank you for the information,

"Married with kids" is an expression. It means "married to a woman and they had some kids". It doesn't mean he married with kids.

Do I think Tirza is worth reading. I would say Yes, but. I like The Jewish Messiah better and because of the short storie I read earlier, I felt I knew what was coming, but it is well written and has some nice plotpoints. So read it.
Dear Dens
You like the 'Jewish Messiah better'. Should I read that one maybe first then? Or is there even a better book of blogger A.G. that you would recommend?
Let's return once more to your question: "Oscar Wilde for instance was married with kids, do you think he wasn't gay?"
To me it is as if you say that it's an advantage to be gay if your married (with kids), which is maybe true. I never thought of it. Did you google on this?

No I didn't google this. And in those days people who were gay were either married or "confirmed bachelors". Why I say this is that how one presents himself isn't always how one truely is. Although I believe it was Oscar Wilde who said "he who isn't superficial is dumb for reality lies in what you see".

Why are you so interested in me and google?
I would recommend all of Mr. Arnon's books except for Blue Mondays which didn't do anything for me.
No, not at all.
I referred to another comment (“I stopped reading novels about ten years ago”).
Apologies for the confusion.
I understand your disappointment upon learning that not only do I not wish to make use of the dating and advertizing facilities your site offers, but that I also do not read novels.

It puzzles me, however, that you seem to think that I would take pride in not reading novels. How would that rhyme with my statement that one cannot be ashamed by not reading them either? Please consider your innuendos carefully before posting.
"the jewish messiah" depressed me for days. so i would recommend it.
The Jewish Messiah made me roar with laughter. So yes, please read it.
Why did you stop reading novels about ten years ago? What exactly happened in 1998?
Was it a conscious decision?
Yes, I thought you were proud of not reading novels, if this interpretation of your remark is not justified I apologize.
No need to apologize, but thanks.
Did something happen 10 years ago? Well, maybe something did. It's when I went over to live in the US, which I did for 2 years. As there were no big digitization projects going on then, I couldn't read any novels, even if I had wanted to. For a while then, I stopped reading books altogether, and started doing a lot of reading online. I guess it was then that I shifted from reading fictionalized prose to poetry and non fiction.

There has been a time when all I read was novels, from Van Oorschots entire "Russische Bibliotheek" (the great 19th century Russians) to Flaubert, García Márquez, Kafka, Céline, and numerous Dutch greats. I think one of the last novels I read was Mulisch' "De Procedure", which I thought was hilarious and wonderful. But I no longer have the stamina or the commitment it takes to read lengthy texts with a single focus, probably also because I am a slow reader. I have the same problem with watching long movies, no matter how great they are.

Leaves me to say that I do read pretty much everything else you write when it crosses my path.
How about a novella?
Good question. I can't say I read a lot of those either, (which may be in part because it is a dying genre; not many are being written anymore?) Aside from the length argument, I think my lack of interest might have to do with the fact that novels and novellas make use of certain operators, aka characters, to provide for the drama. What I prefer to read most are essays that start out from scratch and develop themselves without knowing where they are going. It gives you the impression that you are witnessing the writing process, like looking over the writer's shoulders. To me, that is true drama. Where will he go? What will he find along the way? Will it make sense? Will he not make use of any trick, shortcut, or rhetoric to drive the topic home?

In most fiction, it is not the writer who is at stake but, rather, his characters are. Will he find her? will he live? will they be happy? etc. It makes for "safer" writing, if you understand what I mean.

There is a lot more to be said about all of this, and I am not making any claims or statements with respect to any writer or novel. There are many exceptions and marginal cases. But in general this is probably the basis for my preference.
Jeroen Brouwers said quite the contrary, RdhDaBlaBlaBla.
He said he wrote an essay based on his earlier notes and thoughts. He knows where he'll begin, get up to speed and end. With a novel, he said, he never knows where he's going.
@Rutger, there's nothing safe about writing fiction. In fact, it's higly risqué.
Whatever Jeroen Brouwers has to say is of no importance to me, let alone what his parrot might reproduce.
You're a sweetheart.
@Rutger, why? For exposing myself? Arnon hasn't asked you to read his novels, yet you say you have read them all. Well, the next novel you pick up (if you ever decide to pick one up again) should be mine. That goes without saying.
Of course, without saying.
However, I said I did *not* read Arnons novels.
Is that the risk to which you were referring? To write a novel, and have readers misunderstand you because they cannot read properly?
What or who is of importance to you, Rh dchdc?
Well, Dens, what do you have to offer, other than puerile stupidities and semi-humurous typos?
@Rutger, I stand corrected. You indeed did not say you read his novels but you said you read pretty much everything else of Arnon's that crosses your path.
Please, writing fiction in let’s say the Netherlands is as “risqué” as buying a bagel. This does not imply that writing non-fiction (in a place like the Netherlands or Belgium, to name just two) is an act of true heroism.
Goodmorning. I disagree, but probably I mean risqué in a different sense than you do. I'm not speaking of writing fiction in terms of product (or even -Dutch or Belgian- market/audience), but in terms of process. Perhaps you feel perfectly safe and comfortable behind your words, but I'm not sure I'm ready to believe that. I remember you once saying something along contrary lines.
Buying a bagle topless is risqué. If you consider your fiction risqué you should maybe look for risqué outlets. Or start a publishing house Risqué Publishing.
Arnon, I don't consider my fiction risqué, quite the opposite really. I consider the process of writing risqué. Stop twisting my words.
So the process is risqué? But the product itself is not risqué at all? Interesting.
You know what they say: if you cannot stand the heat stay out of the kitchen.
FYI risqué is not the same as risky -- risqué carries a sexual connotation.
@Arnon, look - I was simply giving my personal impression of the craft. No need to be so angry with me. If you have a different opinion of the craft you and I both practice then that's fine, but why be so spiteful and cynical about it? And this does not mean to say I am oblivious to the fact that you are the star writer here and I'm just a speck of dust in the world called litte red writing-hood. Still I work, I work hard, I work very hard and part of that work involves taking a few personal risks.
Risqué - so, I made a mistake, I used the wrong word. Stupid silly bad me. Noone else here ever makes stupid mistakes like that, do they?
I offer nothing, what's your deal?
If you got nothing to offer, then you can stop wasting my time. There are others here that enjoy talking with you.
Risqué or risky doesn’t matter, I think I know what you were trying to say.
Well, your personal impression of the craft struck me as utter nonsense. I’m repeating myself, but sometimes you have to be patient with your fellow human beings.
Be grateful that somebody is willing to tell you this.
If you want to believe that writing fiction is risky business, make my day.
@Arnon, well then, I thank you very much for taking on the diifcult task of telling me that in your opinion writing has nothing whatsoever to do with personal risk.
Your talk about risky business, risqué fiction and personal risks reminds me of a salesperson desperately trying to sell insurances.
What are you trying to sell me, the idea that you are brave because you write fiction? The belief that you should be awarded the purple heart because you are working on your novel?
Next time you speak to a group of middle-aged ladies you can tell them “writing fiction involves personal risk.” I’m sure they will all nod in agreement.
Isn't writing fiction not risky anymore since Barthes' death of the author? Or should I stay out of this little querril?
@Arnon. Jezus, why do I have to defend myself here? I wasn't trying to tell specifically you anything. I merely reacted to Rutger's views on writing proze. As Rutger is someone who doesn't write proze himself, yet claimed he knew what writing proze entails, I felt that -me being someone who does write proze - I could explain to him what the profession feels like. To me. That's all.
I am not so deperately selling myself or my work here. This is not my intention.
Whether you or a few other Arnon-commentators read my work or not, it won't make much of a difference on the grand scale of things. If I wanted to sell myself or my book, I would be using a different approach. I would, for example, ask you to read my new manuscript and ask if you would be willing to put a quote on it. In the same way you asked Coetzee to do so for your work. As you know, if this was my intention, I would approach you through the right channels.
Why am I still on this blog then if it's not to so desperately sell myself? Your guess is as good as mine. Sometimes we do foolish things. Sometimes we're bored or self-destructive. Sometimes we're addicts or idiots. Sometimes there's no specific reason really, just interest, curiosity and procrastination.
I currently do write prose, as anyone can see on my blog and from my publications list. I also did use to write fiction (novels, stories). But, my characters, figments of my imagination, turned against me. They said I lacked the talent to keep them under control, and subsequently punished me with a fiction writer's block. So, there you have it, the risk of writing fiction.