Yesterday at work I picked up this graphic novelization of the life of Franz Kafka, by David Zane Mairowitz and art by Robert Crumb. It’s kind of a study of Kafka’s life and personality and how they relate to his writing.
I’m no scholar of Kafka, but I’ve read a bit and I’ve always been fascinated by him. I liked the film Kafka with Jeremy Irons too. This book delves into his life in Prague, in the Jewish ghetto (I recommend you click on this link, and then read about the history of this area and how it came to be — eye-opening), his relationship with his apparently super oppressive father, and goes into the antisemitism in that part of the world, which predates WWII and the Nazis by many decades (if not centuries). I knew something of this based on my visit in 2007 to the Jewish Museum Frankfurt, Germany, as well as the Dachau concentration camp. It was pretty staggering to see the antisemitic cartoons and pamphlets in these places. The ground was fertile for Hitler’s atrocities.
But back to this book.
Gotta love the Crumb artwork. Really perfect for this project. Especially for Kafka’s angry father. You can tell how much Crumb hates men like this just from the artwork. I’m sure he identifies with the personality of Kafka as well. If you haven’t seen the documentary Crumb, you should watch it. Really good. A fascinating person.
The book contains comic versions (with commentary) of some of Kafka’s works, including of course, the Metamorphosis, as well as the Burrow, the Trial, In the Penal Colony, and others. I had not read the Burrow, but now I must.