Letter to His Father by Franz Kafka: Literary Reconstruction of a Traumatic Childhood?
by Elisabete Castelon Konkiewitz and Edward Ziff
Franz Kafka’s Letter to His Father is one of the greatest examples in world literature of memory of a traumatic childhood. In it, the author takes a retrospective journey through his life, recollecting and analyzing the reasons for the estrangement and hostility between a father and a son. This essay considers Letter to His Father in the light of current knowledge about autobiographical memory. The essay first sets forth basic aspects of Kafka’s life in order to place Letter to His Fatherin the context of Kafka’s biography, and then presents Kafka’s relevance to the literature and thought of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The essay then considers the different forms of childhood abuse and their consequences in light of evidence from neurodevelopmental psychology. We present evidence about the relationship between trauma and the construction of self-image. Furthermore, we discuss the subjectivity of Kafka’s recollections from the perspective of recent advances in neurobiology. Memory is shown to be dynamic, selective, inherently malleable and dependent on perception, which is a subjective construction, in which the brain interprets and gives coherence to experienced stimuli. We consider the inaccuracy of memory, which is related to neuroplastic changes in the brain that take place over time: consolidation, reconsolidation and transformation. Finally, the relationship between literature and autobiography in the Kafkaesque universe is considered.
Neurological Disorders in Famous Artists – Part 4
Editor(s): Bogousslavsky, Julien (Montreux)
Tatu, Laurent (Besançon)
Elisabete Castelon Konkiewitz received a medical degree from UNIFESP (São Paulo Federal University) in 1993 and a doctorate degree in -Neurology from the German university Technische Universität München, in 2002. She received the title of specialist in Neurology from the Brazilian Academy of Neurology and the title of specialist in Psychiatry from the Brazilian Association of Psychiatry. She has been an associate professor at the Federal University of Grande Dourados (UFGD) since 2008.
Elisabete lives in Dourados, MS, Brazil, practices yoga, and has two sons, Marcelo and Lucas Maurício.