So here's my latest idea about Kafka. Did you know he was born in Prague and became German later? Kafka is a Czech name, meaning "jackdaw."
A jackdaw, as you may know, is a little corvid with glossy purple-black feathers. Being a corvid, it is very smart and has a lot to say. This was also true of Franz Kafka, who like his namesake had rather glossy dark plumage in the form of a large crest of hair. That's not my idea, that's just a thing I like, Kafka the Jackdaw. My idea is that, being a Jew from Prague, Kafka was actually a golem. The rabbi who made him must not have been very skilled, because who ever heard of a skinny golem with migraines? Golems are supposed to get bigger and bigger, and Franz never did, and his failure haunted him throughout his short life. Being a creature animated by language, he turned naturally to writing, and being a fantasy monster born of his people's fear and desire to escape persecution, he made fear and persecution his themes. And of course he died young, as golems always do, being made of clay. Probably you know the famous story of how Kafka, on his deathbed -- dying, as nervous literary geniuses were obliged to do back then, of tuberculosis -- ordered his literary executor Max Brod to destroy his unpublished works, and how Max Brod disobeyed him and published them all. (I agree with this choice, as I think the world needs Kafka more than dead Kafka needs anything.) I've wondered for a long time why Kafka would make this order, and probably if I cared to read a biography of him I'd find out, but maybe he felt it was bad form in a golem to endure even through his work. And then there is the fact that to kill a golem, one must alter the word that animates it: from emet, truth, to met, death. The golem gets bigger and bigger and more and more dangerous until someone has to get in there and destroy its emet. Then the golem turns back into its constituent clay. But who would feel threatened enough by that fragile little bird Kafka, dying in a sanatorium, to destroy the thing that animated him? He had to ask for it to be done. He was a storyteller, after all, and that was how the story was supposed to go. But Max Brod disobeyed him, and Kafka, a failed golem to the end, died before his words did. How humiliating!