Tag Archives: Franz Kafka

Don’t Bend; Don’t Water It Down; Don’t Try to Make It Logical; Don’t Edit Your Own Soul According to the Fashion

Franz Kafka? Anne Rice? Russell Brand? Apocryphal?
kafka17Dear Quote Investigator: The comedian and controversial wild man Russell Brand released the bestselling autobiography “My Booky Wook” in 2007 and the sequel “Booky Wook 2: This Time It’s Personal” in 2010. The sequel had a fascinating epigraph on the first page: 1

Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.

This statement was attributed to the powerful and singular author Franz Kafka. But I haven’t been able to locate it in Kafka’s writings. Is this ascription accurate?

Quote Investigator: Probably not. QI has located no substantive evidence that Franz Kafka said or wrote the passage above. QI believes the actual author was the prominent horror writer Anne Rice whose books about vampires and witches have been very popular.

In 1995 a collection of short stories by Kafka that included influential works such as “The Metamorphosis” and “In the Penal Colony” was published by Schocken Books. The foreword was written by Anne Rice who stated that Kafka’s tales provided her with a guidepost and a decisive form of encouragement. Boldface has been added to the following excerpt: 2

Kafka became a model for me, a continuing inspiration. Not only did he exhibit an irrepressible originality—who else would think of things like this!—he seemed to say that only in one’s most personal language can the crucial tales of a writer be told. Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. Only if you do that can you hope to make the reader feel a particle of what you, the writer, have known and feel compelled to share.

Anne Rice did not use quotation marks in the passage above because she was not quoting Kafka. She was presenting her perception of the motivating force behind Kafka’s literary works. In fact, QI believes that the philosophy of creativity outlined above is the one that Anne Rice has adopted based on the stimulation she experienced from reading Kafka’s stories.

Here are three additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 2010, Booky Wook 2: This Time It’s Personal by Russell Brand, (Epigraph on first page), Quote Page 1, HarperCollins, London. (Google Books Preview)
  2. 1995, The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, and Other Stories by Franz Kafka, Translation to English by Willa and Edwin Muir, Foreword by Anne Rice, (Foreword is dated June 1995), Start Page 1, Quote Page 3, Schocken Books, New York. (Verified with scans; thanks to the Beaufort County Library system of South Carolina)