As a seventeen-year-old fledgling poet, Gustav Janouch met Kafka,
the celebrated author of The Metamorphosis. "They fell into
the habit," as Francine Prose in her wonderful preface, "of taking
long strolls through the city, strolls on which Kafka seems to have
said many amazing, incisive, literary and personal things to his
companion and interlocutor, the teenage Boswell of Prague...
Crossing a windswept square, apropos of something or other, Kafka
tells Janouch, 'Life is a infinitely great and profound as the
immensity of the stars above us. One can only look at it one
perceives more than one can see. So above all one must keep the
keyhole clean.'" They talk about writing (Kafka's own, but also
that of his favorite writers: Poe, Kleist, and Rimbaud) as well as
technology, film, crime, Darwinism, Chinese philosophy, carpentry,
insomnia, street fights, Hindu scripture, art, suicide, and prayer.