2023/12/09 - 13:37

Kafka would hate to be a square, say Prague officials

by Kate Connolly

"Prague won't let you go, the little mother has claws," Franz Kafka once wrote about his uneasy relationship with the city of his birth. But now scholars of the late author are having trouble winning recognition for him after authorities turned down a proposal for a Franz Kafka Square, saying that it would have "terrified" their famous son.
Prague officials last year suggested renaming a small rectangular area close to the site of his house after the German-speaking writer. But yesterday city council officials, headed by the mayor of Prague's first district, Jan Buergermeister, rejected what would have been the first official monument to him, saying that Kafka would turn in his grave at the very thought.
"Franz Kafka would be terrified by the idea that streets or squares should be named after him," said Mr Buergermeister.
Kafka enthusiasts scorned the decision, questioning whether the mayor had a "hotline" to the spirit of Kafka, who died in 1924. "How does he know what Kafka wouldn't have liked?" asked Eduard Goldstücker, a Kafka scholar. "[Kafka] was a very modest man but that doesn't mean he wouldn't like to have had his name attached to something."
Mr Goldstücker has been campaigning since 1963 for recognition of arguably the most famous Czech. "It's a unique phenomenon in the world that the most famous son in the city is not being acknowledged by having something named after him," said Prof Goldstücker. "Trying to imagine Prague without Kafka is rather like trying to imagine Salzburg without Mozart."
Mr Goldstücker said the reason efforts to rename the street have failed is a strong revival of nationalist tradition in the Czech lands. The fact that Kafka wrote in German and was a Jew does not help, he said.

©Published by The Guardian, 2000.02.16

Revision: 2021/01/09 - 23:40 - © Mauro Nervi

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