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In the Penal Colony

In the Penal Colony


by Franz Kafka

Analysis: Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

"In the Penal Colony" may have been inspired by early reports of horrors in World War I, which had started the year Kafka began the story. In particular, he heard a nightmarish account from his brother-in-law of a man he'd seen punctured with many, many bayonet wounds. Sound familiar? (Source)

Kafka's publisher didn't really like "In the Penal Colony," and the story did not receive approval for publication until after World War I (five years after Kafka wrote the story) because of its disturbing content. (Source)

Kafka wrote "In the Penal Colony" while reconnecting with his part-time fiancée, Felice Bauer. This was, shall we say, a harrowing experience, and caused Kafka "thoughts so base I cannot write them down." (Wow, for Kafka that's saying something). Maybe this very different brand of torture also prompted the story? (Source)

"Kafka" is a Germanized version of the Czech "Kavka," meaning "jackdaw," a bird related to the raven. (Source)

Kafka's work life was pretty uninspiring. He began work as an insurance salesman in 1907, and would eventually also get dragged into his father's business: running an asbestos factory. (Source)

Kafka's relationships with women were notoriously problematic. He had various early experiences with prostitutes and "shop girls," but slightly later in life suffered a traumatic and failed engagement and later ended up falling into an affair by letter with a married woman in Vienna. (Source)

It was recently discovered that Kafka had a sizable collection of rather serious porn. (Source)

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