The failed nostalgic journeys of Kafka’s protagonists—Karl Rossmann, Josef K., the Penal Colony officer, K. from The Castle— mirror Kafka’s own never-completed Utopian journeys, about which he fantasizes even more as he gets closer to death. His earlier dreams of emigrating to Spain, South America, the Azores, and Madeira begin to solidify into the enduring late-life fantasy of Palestine: like Moses, Kafka wants to travel to the Promised Land before he dies (D 394; Ta 867). He moves in with the young Galician Jew, Dora Diamant, and begins learning Hebrew in preparation for an eventual journey. Palestine appears over and over again in his late letters and diaries: he watches a film about it, struggles through a Hebrew novel by a Palestinean writer, even sets an approximate date for his trip (October 1923) (D 395; Ta 870; L 388; B 453; LM 236; BM 319). But such a voyage was, for Kafka, always impossible. Kafka claims later, “[I] wanted to go to Palestine. I would certainly not have been up to it, am also fairly unprepared in Hebrew and other respects; but I had to give myself something to hope for” (LO 84; BO 146). Palestine was the ultimate u-topia: one cannot travel there; one can only “trace one’s way [to Palestine] with a finger across the map” (L 201; B 237, trans. rev.).
KeywordsSecret Message Letter Writing Pyrrhic Victory Imperial Originator Early Dream
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