Kafka and the Travelling Doll

What is better that a good  story to make you feel in harmony  with the entire universe at least for a while? “Kafka and the travelling doll” is a beautiful story penned by Spanish writer Jordi Sierra I Fabra,  which, in a way,  throws a different light on Prague-born author Franz  Kafka (1883-1924). Kafka has always been pictured as a gloomy and pessimistic sort of  man, but Jordi Sierra  shows us his sensitive side narrating  an episode which  occurred to Kafka just a year before he died. It is not important to know whether it truly happened or not: it is just heart-warming.

At the age of 40, Franz Kafka, who never married and had no children, was walking through Steglitz Park in Berlin, when he met a little girl who was crying because she had lost her favorite doll. Kafka tried to help the little girl find the doll, but without success.

Kafka told her to meet him there the following day to continue the search. The next day, when they still hadn’t found the doll, Kafka gave the little girl a letter, which, he claimed, was written by the doll that said:

 “Please don’t cry. I went on a trip to see the world. I’ll write you about my adventures.”

That was the beginning of a story that continued until the end of Kafka’s life. During their meetings Kafka read the doll’s letters about her adventures and conversations that the little girl found adorable.

Finally, Kafka surprised the girl telling that the doll had returned to Berlin and handed it to her ( of course, he had bought a new one). But the girl was disappointed:

 “It doesn’t look like my doll at all!”

So, Kafka handed her another letter in which the doll had written:

“My travels have changed me.”

The little girl hugged the new doll and carried her happily home. A year later Kafka died. Many years later, the now adult child found a letter inside the doll. In the tiny letter signed by Kafka  there was written:

 “Everything you love will probably be lost, but eventually love will return in another way.”

22 thoughts on “Kafka and the Travelling Doll

  1. Heartwarming . . . and sad. Sad because times have changed.

    These days, he’d be labeled a potential molester, and rather than recognize the kindness, the parents would probably file a complaint and request a restraining order.

    • Since the late 80s, I’ve drastically changed my behavior around kids. No waiving, smiling, or appearing in any way to acknowledge them, let alone interact.

      Sometimes, if I’m with Melisa, I’m a bit less concerned, but parents these days seem to be (are) extremely paranoid of strangers.

      The funny thing is that, per my observations over the last twenty years or so, 3/4 of these parents shouldn’t have been allowed to have kids in the first place. But, that’s another soapbox I won’t climb today.

      • I shouldn’t say it – as there might be some parent accidentally reading what I write – , but I can say for sure, that you have been even “generous” for once. 😉

  2. It is undoubtedly one of the cutest stories which might fit Kafka. I have read almost all his works, and I have always found a familiar feeling with him. Notwithstanding, if Kafka met a child, like in this story, he would act the same. However, I will look forward to getting the book. Thank you, lovely friend. 🤗🙏💖

  3. Thank you Stefy for sharing this sweet story of friendship and kindness. In some respects, it doesn’t really matter if the writer in this story was Kafka… (perhaps this would be so characteristic of someone like Rilke or Saint-Exupery) because the story transcends time and place — it is a timeless fable (like The Little Prince) that can speak so beautifully, so tenderly to many generations. This is exactly the type of story that can inspire us during the endless covid pandemic where these small act of generosity remind us of our shared humanity and the need to care for one another. Cheers. Alex

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