Friday, March 12, 2010

franz kafka, who died fatally to death in 1924

There was a brief piece on the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning about the dispute over the surviving manuscripts of Czech novelist Franz Kafka. I don't really have an opinion about the issue, other than to say that I couldn't quite see what Israel's claim to the manuscripts was based on, other than their original guardian Max Brod having lived in Tel Aviv for the latter part of his life. Anyway, like I say, I don't have an opinion and I can't be bothered to do the research required to have one. Instead I was struck by the first line of the report, which went like this:
"Franz Kafka, who died of illness in 1924...."
Wait a minute - died of illness? What does that mean? And bear in mind this was a recorded piece, it wasn't Jim Naughtie or John Humphrys stumbling over a live link or anything like that. So they must have listened to it and thought: yep, that all sounds A-OK to me. Obviously we could do the 2 minutes research required to look in, say, Wikipedia and discover that he (most likely) died of a combination of tuberculosis and malnutrition, aggravated by chronic headaches and clinical depression, but nah, let's just go down the pub. I mean, granted, it's not one snappy single cause, but still no excuse for something as clunky as they ended up with. Most people die of illness in one way or another, after all; the ones that don't die of some trauma like being in a plane crash or having a piano dropped on them, anyway.

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