Join 3,553 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

A literary Metamorphosis into a monstrous vermin?
August 10, 2008 4:17 PM   Subscribe

"These are not naughty postcards from the beach. They are undoubtedly porn, pure and simple. Some of it is quite dark, with animals committing fellatio and girl-on-girl action... It's quite unpleasant.... Academics have pretended it did not exist.... Everything [he] wrote, every postcard he ever sent, every page of his diary... is regarded as a potential Ark of the Covenant... Yet no-one has ever shown his readers Kafka's porn."
posted by orthogonality (63 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Maybe nobody's all that interested in cockroach-on-cockroach action.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:22 PM on August 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


This post is nothing without actual pictures.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:23 PM on August 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


The link does not entirely deliver what it promises.
posted by sour cream at 4:24 PM on August 10, 2008


I bet that porn collection would be regarded as pretty tame by anyone alive in the era of Rule 34.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 4:27 PM on August 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


A stash of explicit pornography to which Franz Kafka subscribed has emerged for the first time after being studiously ignored by scholars anxious to preserve the iconic writer's saintly image.

Really? Saintly image? Never heard that one. In fact, Kafka having crazy porn actually makes complete sense.
posted by billysumday at 4:31 PM on August 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Dr Hawes's biography also challenges the enduring popular portrait of Kafka as a tortured and lonely figure, neglected in his own lifetime, stuck in a dead-end job and struggling to write. The true Kafka could not have been more different, he said, describing him as a popular and well-paid state lawyer whose writing was supported by a prominent literary clique.

Heh. Such a popular stereotype that I'm sure some won't bother themselves with the facts. Kafka was a tortured and lonely individual whose only outlet for intimacy was porn... Except that he was actually well-adjusted and popular, and also liked porn. Oops.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:31 PM on August 10, 2008


Whoo! Check out the way that egg sac just hangs off her abdomen! Yeah!
posted by sourwookie at 4:31 PM on August 10, 2008 [6 favorites]


Franz Kafka Rock Opera!
posted by bunnytricks at 4:32 PM on August 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


What's the difference between the Ark of the Covenant and Kafka's porn collection?
One melts faces off, the other is a box.
posted by Pyry at 4:32 PM on August 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


Wait a minute. How exactly is girl-on-girl action "quite dark"?
posted by decagon at 4:35 PM on August 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Lighting techniques in Fin de si├Ęcle pornographic photography were not great.
posted by empath at 4:37 PM on August 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


He was just a man. A warrior of words, taking a stand.

I'm eager to see because I am nosy, but I doubt it necessarily has anything to contribute to scholarship. Fetishes don't necessarily say much about their owners, unless in complete contradiction to their public selves -- and what is that but a punchline for us?
posted by Countess Elena at 4:38 PM on August 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of LS Lowry's secret. Although it was more of a surprise in the case of Lowry. It's entirely unsurprising that the man who wrote "In The Penal Colony" had some fairly unorthodox sexual fantasies.
posted by WPW at 4:38 PM on August 10, 2008


Not for the first time, I'm a little disappointed in myself to realize that -- if I were to be killed tomorrow -- vultures searching my hard drive for porn would be able to draw no darker conclusions than, "Man. He really dug some chicks with big asses."

That said, this doesn't sound like all that interesting a smut collection.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:39 PM on August 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wait a minute. How exactly is girl-on-girl action "quite dark"?
Perhaps "animals committing" governs both the fellatio and the girl-on-girl action.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:41 PM on August 10, 2008


Has anyone read Kafka's diaries? (This link is not as awesome as buying the books!)

He was not a saint; he was only somewhat a "suffering artist," he was definitely extraordinarily sensitive to the varieties of human experience.

Kafka, Murakami and Dick are my trifecta of literary heroes, and I would be surprised if these male humans did not look at porn.

I am awaiting a link to the pictures as well.
posted by kozad at 4:43 PM on August 10, 2008


Kozad: The best thing I've read about Dick in years.
posted by WPW at 4:48 PM on August 10, 2008


girl-on-girl action... It's quite unpleasant.

Spoken like a true Oxbridge Don.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:53 PM on August 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Kafkaesque.
posted by netbros at 4:54 PM on August 10, 2008


What kind of "subscription" service was this, exactly? If it was his publisher sending him the stuff, then sure, maybe Kafka was asking him for specific material, maybe he was just getting whatever stuff the publisher was sending him, or maybe the publisher just sent the stuff unsolicited and Kafka was simply sorely tempted by it and didn't want to throw it away. The fact that he owned some pornography doesn't tell us all that much.

The nature, which seems to be widely varied, doesn't tell us that much either. Even today, when the discerning individual has greater choice over what they want in their pornography, whatever's in one person's "collection" might not tell us all that much. Sure, we could probably get an idea of whether a man likes big asses or large breasts or small breasts or fellatio images or whatever, but even then much-to-most of what's there may not actually do anything for the "collector," for reasons they themselves probably couldn't pin down.

So back in Kafka's day, when he's just receiving whatever his publisher has to send him, presumably, are we to jump to the conclusion that he was getting off on all of it? Presumably the publisher wasn't trying his hand on the inaugural issue of Animal Fellatio Quarterly, so it's quite possible that these bestial photos could have been repellent to Kafka, while the girl-on-girl action on the next page was just the ticket, but how would we ever know?

That's why this seems like an invasion or privacy to me, simply because Kafka can never explain why he had these, and people are likely to make incorrect assumptions just because those assumptions are the most naughtily amusing. Not to defend porn, which of course has many problems relating to exploitation and the perpetuation of the male gaze and all that, but guessing as to someone's psychology due to what porn they've amassed seems foolish to me.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:58 PM on August 10, 2008


Is this Hawes?

The book sounds interesting, but the article is written horribly and is full of confusing, sensationalism. I gather that Kafka "subscribed" to porn published by the same guy who published Kafka's first story collection? And that this will infuriate folks in The Kafka Industry who "simply don't like the idea that their literary idol was helped out in this...way in the vital early stages of his career..."?

In what...way? Are we supposed to understand that Kafka benefited from the porn sales directly? Or is it scandalous just that his first publisher also published porn? Anyway, I suspect his claim that "there is zero actual Jewishness" in Kafka's work is going to cause far more of a stink in The Industry than any lesbian porn Hawes puts in his book.
posted by mediareport at 4:59 PM on August 10, 2008


One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into an incredibly hot chick.
posted by languagehat at 5:00 PM on August 10, 2008 [32 favorites]


Nthing the sentiment that it would be more surprising if the guy hadn't been pretty darn bent.

And curse you, lhat!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:07 PM on August 10, 2008


If the worst one can say about a man is that he had a penchant for girl-on-girl action, he has led a fine life.
posted by rodgerd at 5:28 PM on August 10, 2008


Animals "committing" fellatio? So suddenly it's a crime?!
posted by DU at 5:37 PM on August 10, 2008


Should I look at the Kafka porn? It sounds like a bad idea.
posted by Artw at 5:47 PM on August 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Jesus, he didn't even want his writing published, let alone his porn stash. Leave the poor dude alone already, Hawes.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:56 PM on August 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Like many here in the comments, i wish there were more than descriptions of what was so shocking about this man's collection of perversions.

I'm a fan of Kafka in the vague sense -- have read Metamorphosis, his collected stories have been in my bathroom for an extended period of time, and i've seen Orson Welles 'The Trial' -- and never during any of this has the idea that the author was a saint of any kind been impressed upon me.

I can only guess that it was his friend's fault for lying about him in such glorious light, as well as making him famous post-mortem.
posted by phylum sinter at 6:01 PM on August 10, 2008


Not remotely surprising. Look at his Letters to Felice; he tortures that girl.
posted by jamjam at 6:11 PM on August 10, 2008


Wake me when they dig up some of Dosoevsky's porn.

"I am a sick man. ... I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased. And this erection...is massive."
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:13 PM on August 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


animals committing fellatio and girl-on-girl action... It's quite unpleasant....

Y'know, I got a message with this title in my junk mail inbox today, but it was in all caps. I didn't click the link, because it just said "see what they do to girls it outrage and dicusting!!! sweater teeth Her aunt came back from london to find Brittany Speers shoehorn"

Maybe that has pictures of Kapka's porn collection.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:29 PM on August 10, 2008


From the Wikipedia article on Franz Blei:
From December 1905 - November 1906 [Blei] was the editor of the private magazine Amethyst (pub. Hans von Weber) and then The Opals, which were available by subscription only and were mildly pornographic. The journals featured the artwork of Aubrey Beardsley and Felicien Rops, texts by Jules Laforgue and also erotic prose from translated texts by Paul Verlaine and classic erotic plays and poems from around the world. Only 800 numbered copies were produced of each issue, and the young Kafka had a subscription. The Opals was the first to publish Carl Einstein's Bebuquin, the first German expressionist novel.
Looks like Kafka's taste in porn was a little classier than one might have hoped/gathered from this article. But that's no reason not to link to some titillating decadent art [NSFW]!
posted by DaDaDaDave at 6:44 PM on August 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


This post was a total tease.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:02 PM on August 10, 2008


the literary Kafkaesque genius who wrote brooding classics such as The Metamorphosis, The Castle and The Trial, and argues that these discoveries merely show Kafka as more human than the popular image

groan....
posted by munchingzombie at 7:08 PM on August 10, 2008


the literary Kafkaesque genius who wrote brooding classics such as The Metamorphosis, The Castle and The Trial

Yeah, those books do seem rather Kafkaesque. Also, Hamlet always struck me as pretty Shakespearean. And that Jesus guy? He sure was impressive. Almost... Christlike.
posted by maqsarian at 7:09 PM on August 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


This life is useless with pics.
posted by spiderwire at 7:09 PM on August 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Damn you, munchingzombie.
posted by maqsarian at 7:09 PM on August 10, 2008


"I am a sick man. ... I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased. And this erection...is massive."

You mean you haven't yet come across the apocryphal Notes from the Velvet Underground?
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:14 PM on August 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


Wait a minute. How exactly is girl-on-girl action "quite dark"?
Technically. They were poorly lit.
posted by boo_radley at 7:32 PM on August 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


the literary Kafkaesque genius who wrote brooding classics such as The Metamorphosis, The Castle and The Trial, ...

I, too, wanted to share my dismay over the fact that this sentence was written by a human being.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:34 PM on August 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Aminated GIF of some of the porn.
posted by orthogonality at 7:46 PM on August 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Haaretz, from last Sunday, on Hawes' take on Kafka:

Kafka, Hawes tells us, as if we were hearing it for the first time, was not shy about publicity; was well known in Prague literary circles; and was admired and promoted by Rilke, Hermann Hesse and Robert Musil. Kafka smiled often and wrote many things that were funny, despite (because of?) their macabre dimensions. Kafka was a strong swimmer, a frequent visitor to all-night cafes and literary soirees, as well as to brothels. His work is not autobiographical. He was not crushed under the weight of an intellectually undemanding job. His Jewishness is not vital to an understanding of his writing; and Kafka, who died in 1924, did not uncannily predict Auschwitz.

There is nothing new here. Indeed, 10 years ago, Adam Thirlwell wrote about "accepted Kafka truths," claiming, correctly, that none of them were credible in the absolute way that had been stated. Among the myths debunked by the young novelist and critic were these, for example: Kafka's writing is an expression of Jewish mysticism; his life and work were always serious and he never smiled; it is essential to know the facts of Kafka's emotional life when reading his fiction; in some sense all his stories are autobiographical; and many of the tales prophesy the totalitarian state and Nazi Holocaust.

Okay, Hawes, a novelist, with a doctorate in German literature, does reveal that Kafka was intrigued by pornography and kept a library of "dirty" books and pictures under lock and key.


There's also lots of interesting stuff further down about Kafka's complex relationship to Judaism.
posted by mediareport at 8:01 PM on August 10, 2008


Social Security Denies Gregor Samsa's Disability Claim
posted by lukemeister at 8:38 PM on August 10, 2008


orthogonality has solved Kafka.

Hurrah, sir.
posted by OrangeDrink at 8:40 PM on August 10, 2008


Wow, this scandal is useless.

I suppose if I thought of Kafka as a "saint", it was more that I thought of him as being very kind, since he shows such sensitivity to suffering in his writing. I never for once thought he had a puritanical imagination. Now this guy tries to shock us with his claim that Kafka owned pornography, and it turns out it's just drawings and erotic fiction? I probably have more than a few drawings of fellating animals here in the apartment, either somewhere in a Robert Crumb collection or in one of my girlfriend's dirty Spanish comics.
posted by creasy boy at 12:26 AM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I am a sick man. ... I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased. And this erection...is massive."
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:13 PM on August 10


Eponysterical!
posted by XMLicious at 2:26 AM on August 11, 2008


Kafka at Camp: The Lost Diaries
posted by Ritchie at 4:58 AM on August 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Hmmm, if I become a famous writer, remind me to have 'Delete my internet history' in the terms of my will.
posted by Phalene at 5:05 AM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia says "mild pornography". Does that mean he had some other source of darker stuff, or that the Kafka followers are a bunch of prudes?
posted by graventy at 6:16 AM on August 11, 2008


I heard that Robert Musil indulged his secret castration fetish in a rumored work called The Man Without Testicles.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:32 AM on August 11, 2008


Kafka porn.... hmmm that's William S. Burroughs, isn't it?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:38 AM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Laughing with Kafka by David Foster Wallace
posted by xod at 9:16 AM on August 11, 2008


F. Kafka, Everyman, by Zadie Smith. A review of Louis Begley's The Tremendous World I Have Inside My Head: Franz Kafka: A Biographical Essay.
posted by xod at 9:20 AM on August 11, 2008


The private lives of Franz K., by P D Smith.
posted by xod at 9:23 AM on August 11, 2008


I agree with Navelgazer about the pornography he kept not necessarily being indicative of his tastes. He may have kept stuff that he felt demonstrated the absurdity of the human condition, or because it was 'some sick shit dude'. It could have inspired his writing rather than his libido. Who knows?
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:41 PM on August 11, 2008


BrotherCaine, I'm sure that's the exact question that at least one thousand PhD theses will try to solve over the decades to come.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:36 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, if some of the postcards are sticky, perhaps they will know.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:43 PM on August 11, 2008


That's it - I'm totally calling my band Kafka's Sticky Postcards!
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:47 PM on August 11, 2008


(or Franz Furryhands; I can't decide which I like better)
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:51 PM on August 11, 2008


Dear Penthouse Letters, I never thought it would happen to me...
posted by Falconetti at 8:48 PM on August 11, 2008


I don't understand. OK, so Kafka had porn. I sort of assume most people in cultures with reasonable access have porn. Since authors are a subset of "most people" this is not surprising.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:36 PM on August 12, 2008


I was telling my mom about R. Crumb's Kafka book and happened to be talking really fast at the time, so all she heard was "Crumbkafka." "Crumbkafka? What is that? Some kind of cake?"
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:12 AM on August 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Porn claims outrage German Kafka scholars
posted by whir at 9:00 AM on August 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


« Older levelHead...  |  Robert A. Talbot makes guns ou... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments