Meet Alice, Kafka’s Friend

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01/26/2010 1:23 PM |

Because why not, Haaretz visits with Alice Herz-Sommer, 106, of a prominent Jewish family from Prague and then Israel. She is, we are informed, “the last person alive who knew Kafka personally,” which we’re going to sit quietly and think about for a minute.

Franz? Oh yes, Franz, her brother-in-law’s friend:

Kafka was a slightly strange man… He used to come to our house, sit and talk with my mother, mainly about his writing. He did not talk a lot, but rather loved quiet and nature. We frequently went on trips together. I remember that Kafka took us to a very nice place outside Prague. We sat on a bench and he told us stories. I remember the atmosphere and his unusual stories. He was an excellent writer, with a lovely style, the kind that you read effortlessly… And now, hundreds of people all over the world research and write doctorates about him.

Yes well an eccentric family friend’s transformation into the guiding spirit of an entire century of European literary tradition must be an interesting thing for a person to witness.