Franz Kafka’s “Strange and deep darkness”

Franz Kafka to Milena:

“I knew in advance what I would find in the letter, after all it was in all your letters, it was hidden in your eyes (what can one not find in their depth), in the wrinkles on your forehead; I knew it like someone who spends all day in a dark room, in deep abyss of sleep, dreams and fear, and then opens the windows not at all surprised that it is dark outside, because I knew in advance that out there I shall find strange and deep darkness.”

From time to time I like to return to Kafka’s letters to Felice and to Milena. I recall reading them for the first time when I was about seventeen, and feeling as though I wrote them, they were straight from the heart. I read somewhere that when these letters were first published readers felt embarrassed, as though anyone might when reading someone’s innermost thoughts. They emanate authenticity. Elias Canetti wrote about them:

“I can only say that these letters hit me as only authentic life can, and are now so mystical and familiar as though they belonged to me for a long time, ever since I started to observe and absorb other people so as to understand them better.”


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