I am dirty, Milena, endlessly dirty, that is why I make such a fuss about cleanliness. None sing as purely as those in deepest hell; it is their singing we take for the singing of angels.


Schmutzig bin ich, Milena, endlos schmutzig, darum mache ich ein solches Geschrei mit der Reinheit. Niemamnd singt so rein als die, welche in der tiefsten Hölle sind; was wir für  den Gesang der Engel halten, ist ihr Gesang.


Meran, May 1920
Dear Frau Milena (yes, this heading is becoming burdensome, although it is something to cling to in this uncertain world, like a crutch for sick people; but it’s no sign of recovery when the crutches grow to be a burden), I have never lived among Germans. German is my mother tongue and as such more natural to me, but I consider Czech much more affectionate, which is why your letter removes several uncertainties; I see you more clearly, the movements of your body, your hands, so quick, so resolute, it’s almost like a meeting; even so, when I then want to raise my eyes to your face, in the middle of the letter – what a story! – fire breaks out and I see nothing but fire.”

Franz Kafka
Letters To Milena