Kafka in Prague

In the Czech Republic for a few days, I finally took the time to look out the Jewish Quarter of the city and a little of Kafka. Odd to think I have been so often and not. From Mala Strana to the bridge and a little further, it was very easy to reach. What a history. The Old Jewish Cemetery dates at least from the early 15th century (the oldest preserved tombstone, of Avigdor Kara, dates back to 1439) until 1787, with 12 layers of burials in that time. In places, it looks like a crush of Hebrew lettering set into the tumulus that has built up in the dense, close-packed space. Kafka himself is buried in the New Cemetery. The Jewish Museum is right next door, with the synagogue, each wall painted with the names of holocaust victims from the departments of Prague, and a display of children's paintings. The Franz Kafka Museum, suitably surreal, with cases that swing almost imerceptibly back and forth as you read them, is not far away with a wonderful, near-underwater film of Kaflka's city in Kafka's time. Beneath, you can see the beginning of his "Letter to my Father" in his own hand, never sent.

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