Kafka first made the acquaintance of Milena Jesenska in 1920 when she was translating his early short prose into Czech, and their relationship quickly developed into a deep attachment. Such was his feeling for her that Kafka showed her his diaries and, in doing so, laid bare his heart and his conscience.
Milena, for her part, was passionate and intrepid, cool and intelligent in her decisions but reckless when her emotions were involved. Kafka once described her as living her life 'so intensely down to such depths'. If she did suffer through him, it was part of her great appetite for life.
However while at times Milena's 'genius for living' gave Kafka new life, it ultimately exhausted him, and their relationship was to last little over two years. Kafka died in 1944 at the hands of the Nazis - these letters are a moving record of their relationship.
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"In his letters we have a series of self-portraits desperate and courageous, always eager and warm in feeling and, of course, by drollery. His candour is of the kind that flies alongside him in the air. He was a marvellous letter writer" (V.S. Pritchett)
"Fascinating reading... [a] part of his oeuvre" ( Independent)
These letters, written by Kafka to his one-time lover Milena, document an extraordinary relationship and offer unusual insight into Kafka's private world, revealing another side of the legendary literary genius.
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