Franz Kafka met Felice Bauer in August 1912, at the home of his friend Max Brod. Energetic, down-to-earth, and life-affirming, the twenty-five-year-old secretary was everything Kafka was not, and he was instantly smitten. Because he was living in Prague and she in Berlin, his courtship was largely an epistolary one--passionate, self-deprecating, and anxious letters sent almost daily, sometimes even two or three times a day. But soon after their engagement was announced in 1914, Kafka began to worry that marriage would interfere with his writing and his need for solitude.
The more than five hundred letters Kafka wrote to Felice--through their breakup, a second engagement in 1917, and their final parting in the fall of that year, when Kafka began to feel the effects of the tuberculosis that would eventually claim his life--reveal the full measure of his inner turmoil as he tried, in vain, to balance his desire for human connection with what he felt were the solitary demands of his craft.
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