A letter from Franz Kafka in which the sick writer describes his “naked fear” of mice invading his bedroom and complains about his cat soiling his slippers could be saved from disappearing into a private collection in a last-minute rescue attempt by German fans.
Praised as “Kafka in a nutshell” by experts, the letter is currently owned by three German collectors who are due to put it up for sale at the auction house Kaupp on December 7, with bids starting at 42,000 euros. Germany’s leading literary archive initially said it could not afford to bid. The letter was expected to be snapped up by another collector. However, a newspaper report about the auction prompted wealthy, anonymous Kafka enthusiasts to offer financial support.
“They want to secure this piece for the public, for scholars and fans of literature, and put an end to its journey through the autograph markets and individual collections,” Professor Ulrich Raulff , director of the German Literature Archive in Marbach, told the Daily Telegraph. He argued that this was particularly important with a view to conservation. “There are after all many collectors who buy a precious object and then store it in a cupboard in an overheated room.”