“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us. That is my belief.”
Do you agree?
2 responses to “Quote from Franz Kafka”
Whew!! I’m going to have to do some serious thinking about this one. I know the books I’ve read that still live inside me follow his formula of an “ax for the frozen sea inside us,” but to read only those books would seem to lead us to dwell in too many dark places.
I agree, Ladywinfred. And I disagree with what he said, “we would be happy precisely if we had no books.” That is certainly not true for me.