1/ Reading "The castle".
2/ Once in a while I pick up Kafka's diary and look for some specific stuff or continue reading from where I left off last time. With his diary, I don't read continuously from the beginning to the end and finish before moving on to something else, but read it this way, and have been doing so over the past few years. There's no sense of continuity, and I can't remember everything in his life that is mentioned, discussed, written about, in his diary, but it doesn't matter to me. I like to get into his world now and then, stay there for some minutes, and leave.
3/ Kafka in his fiction (short/ ultra short stories, unfinished novels...) and Kafka in his nonfiction/ personal writings (diaries, notebooks, letters) are 2 different persons. The dry sense of humour, the laughter of the former cannot be found in the latter, who is darker, more pessimistic, constantly sick, depressed, full of doubt and self-hatred.
4/ His negativity however should not be exaggerated. It is balanced out by the comic side of his fiction (though not everybody can see how funny he is). From my personal experience of keeping a diary, one tends to write more about loneliness, grief, sadness, self-hatred, depression, doubt, insecurity, fear, alienation, disappointment, disillusionment... than joy, satisfaction, enjoyment, happiness...
5/ The 1st time I read Kafka was in 2009. Started from ultrashort fiction.
6/ The last time I read Kafka's fiction was probably when I read "Amerika: the missing person", before 9/2012.
7/ Speaking of statistics, on this blog before this post, there are only 11 posts labelled as K (= Kafka), and only 26 posts in which his name's mentioned.
Whereas Jane Austen's the label of 41 posts, and mentioned in 44 posts.
But then it shouldn't mean much. Toni Morrison, my favourite female writer, has only 10 posts labelled with her name.
Writing about Kafka isn't easy. He confounds. He just draws me in, for some reasons.
8/ This is called Kafka castle, designed by Ricardo Bofill:
9/ I believe Knut Hamsun's influence on Kafka is exaggerated by Knut's admirers. This man's mentioned only twice or thrice in Kafka's diaries, and Kafka lists his true blood brothers as Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gustave Flaubert, Franz Grillparzer and Heinrich von Kleist.
The similarities between them, I don't deny, but "Crime and punishment" made me realise that they both were influenced by Dostoyevsky.
10/ Unlike my expectation, reading him a long while later, after discovering the realist painter- psychologist Tolstoy, doesn't have much effect on how I think and feel about Kafka.
It is fortunate that I can like, appreciate and admire and even adore writers of very different kinds, styles, temperaments, from Tolstoy to Kafka, Marquez, from Emily Bronte to Jane Austen, from Orwell to Nabokov, Faulkner, etc.
Will write more later.