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Kafka: Gender, Class, and Race in the Letters and Fictions$
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Elizabeth Boa

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198158196

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198158196.001.0001

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Letters from a Bachelor Kafka's Letters to Felice Bauer

Letters from a Bachelor Kafka's Letters to Felice Bauer

(p.45) 3 Letters from a Bachelor Kafka's Letters to Felice Bauer
Kafka: Gender, Class, and Race in the Letters and Fictions

Elizabeth Boa

Oxford University Press

Kafka's written work, particularly his much-celebrated novel The Castle, has been widely praised by feminists for its depiction of female power holding sway over a male society. Despite this positive albeit sinister view, Kafka's portrayal of strong and domineering women was shaped primarily by his tenure as a bachelor wooing several women. He recounts how despite being in a primarily male-centered society, the affairs of the home and to some extent the love affairs of a young daughter were obstructed by the matronly mother. This was true, especially in the case of Felice Bauer, whose mother Kafka greatly feared and yet admired at the same time as the ideal mother he had never had. This combination of fear and awe for female power had a clandestine effect on Kafka to the point that he relayed to Felice that he'd marry her, but that she could never be a mother and he wouldn't allow it. This chapter discusses Kafka's almost Bluebeard-like tendencies with regard to women, but whereas the murderous aristocrat prevented his wives entry to the bloody red room, Kafka feared that women may open doors to his being better left closed.

Keywords:   feminism, patriarchal society, matron, Bluebeard

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