KAFKA: A DIFFERENT KIND OF CLOSET CASE?
“For Kafka, who once declared "my way of life is geared solely to writing" and dreamed of a fusion between literature and life, for whom all kinds of literary experience were matters of life and death, the coincidence might have been one reason for his crush”— Marco Roth, 'KAFKA: THE DECISIVE YEARS,' BY Reiner Stach, “Franz the Obscure Review’ by NYTimes January 1, 2006
What coincidence? What crush?
Kafka and Brod had gone to visit Goethe's house in Weimar, where Kafka developed a crush on Margarethe, the hopelessly ignorant daughter of the caretaker. These things could happen to anybody.
But Stach never tells us that Margarethe - usually shortened to Grete or Gretchen - is also the name of the naïve girl seduced by Faust after he makes his pact with Mephistopheles in Goethe's play
The biographer Stach's own indecisiveness turns this book into a kind of a choose-your-own biography which is more fun to read if you know about such Goethe coincidences with Kafka already.
Successful seduction would have made Kafka a Faust. Pursuing her in a way that was doomed to leave him alienated and humiliated would put him in the company of Goethe.
For Kafka, who once declared "my way of life is geared solely to writing" and dreamed of a fusion between literature and life—this so-called coincidence between Greta and Goethe would seem to be as good as any other excuse to fuse life and literature together as an “affair.”
This so-called Greta-Goethe crush and all the other various and sundry womanizing affairs could be said to be a closeted way of marrying literary experience with matters of life and death.
All this is speculative interpretation, of course, but gay biographers have earned the right to play and to indulge their gay readers' yearning to have other gay/closeted lives made sense of, as well as their own.
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