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Father of an artist

Posted June. 22, 2022 07:58,   

Updated June. 22, 2022 07:58


Artists don't always deliver great words and worthy actions. It was true for Franz Kafka, too. He depicted his father as shallow, snobbish and emotionally-abusive tyrant in his work "Letter to His Father." Should the description of his father be accepted without any questions? Would the father have agreed on such depiction of himself if he had read those letters written by his son? South African writer Nadine Gordimer starts with that question in mind in her book "Letter from His Father." In the novel, Kafka's father writes letters to his son from a basement to defend himself. Though a fiction, his arguments have a point.

The father has many reasons to be excused. He was a self-made merchant who worked day and night, 12 hours every day at his shop. Through the father‘s sacrifice, his family could enjoy a comfortable life and his children could go to good schools. It is true that he did scold his son who was extremely different from himself and often hurt his feelings. However, that cannot justify Kafka's actions loathing his father and even describing sexual moaning he heard from his father's bedroom. It is not fair for the father to be complained at for not reading his son's novels because he was not intelligent enough to understand Kafka's abstract writings. "Unlike you, I did not have much time to read because I had to work like a slave during my childhood. Unlike you, I could not lock myself up in my room filled with books during my early years. If I did, I would have starved to death." All the arguments by his father sound reasonable. Bread comes before art that requires intellect to understand.

Kafka may have written great novels such as "An Axe That Breaks the Frozen Sea Inside Us" but made his father a despising joke. Kafka was a great artist but lacked warmth for a son. Gordimer's book about imaginary letters from Kafka's father offers implication worth exploring in depth. Not everything is justifiable just because you are someone great. Being hurt by someone does not justify you from hurting that someone back, all the more, if that someone is your parents.