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Synopsis

Franz Kafka wrote this letter to Hermann Kafka in November 1919; he was then thirty-six years old. Max Brod relates that Kafka actually gave it to his mother to hand to his father, hoping that it might renew a relationship that had disintegrated into tension and frustration on both sides. Kafka's probing of the abyss between them spared neither his father nor himself, and his cry for acceptance has an undertone of despair. He could not help seeing the lack of understanding between father and son as another moment in the universal predicament depicited in so much of his work. Probably realizing the futility of her son's gesture, his mother did not deliver the letter, but returned it to Kafka instead. Kafka died five years later, in 1924, of tuberculosis.

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