While researching another post I hope to write soon, about Franz Kafka and a small room in San Francisco, I stumbled upon something else that seemed worth putting up on the blog; it’s from Kafka’s Diaries: 1910-1923.
In an early entry, from 1911, Kafka describes the “unhappiness of the bachelor,” an unhappiness that, for him, seems less dependent on loneliness or personal abandonment – or even on some catastrophic sense of being overlooked by the world, always – than on space: a bachelor never has enough of it.
A bachelor is alone, after all, which means that “so much the smaller a space is considered sufficient for him.”
One could perhaps say that, for Kafka, a bachelor is never spatially respected…
In any case, looking for space – or for the proper space, the one that feels right and “has a few panes of glass between itself and the night” – our bachelor finds that he “moves incessantly, but with predictable regularity, from one apartment to another.”
This goes on – and on – for the rest of his isolated existence until “he, this bachelor, still in the midst of life, apparently of his own free will resigns himself to an ever smaller space, and when he dies the coffin is exactly right for him.”
6 thoughts on “The Space of the Bachelor”
did K suffer from claustrophobia? a certain sense of space in his writing is always suffocating…
I would like to see how Kafka would fill out a match.com questionnaire.
Welcome to my life.
But seriously: This is always the case with singles. Going to Denny’s alone means being seated at the giant round booth for 10, because you’ll be gone soon.
Read Leo Tolstoy’s short story “How Much Land Does a Man Need”.
Tim McDonald from onion flats + plumb bob in Philidelphia wrote a masters of architecture thesis on Kafka I believe.
You may wish to seek this out.
Well as a bachelor myself I’d say that I prefer wide open spaces for my apartment!