Saturday, 8 December 2012

Kinky Penguins & Musophobia



I've been a very lazy blogger but a reasonably prolific writer. Draft no. 102 of book two is with my editor, and I've just done two stories for the Daily Telegraph. Yay.
The first is about Kafka's musophobia, which he described in a letter to his friend Max Brod:

"What I feel towards mice is naked fear. To explore the origin of that is up to psychoanalysts... Like the vermin-phobia, it's certainly related to the unexpected, unwanted, unavoidable, sort of mute, grim, secret-purposeful appearance of these animals, with the feeling that they have dug hundreds of tunnels through the walls around me and are lurking there..." 

The German Literature Archive snapped up the letter in an auction on Friday thanks to a last-minute rescue effort by wealthy Kafka fans. The archive described the letter as a "key to Kafka's work" in a press release after the auction, citing the way it merges comical and terrifying images. Such as this one:

"The idea for example of an animal that would look exactly like a pig, i.e. in itself comical, but would be as small as a rat and come snorting out of a hole in the floor is a horrific idea." 

I've also written a feature about Liz Mohn, the matriarch behind the Bertelsmann media empire that now co-owns Penguin Random House. It's in today's printed Telegraph. I can't find it online yet, but hopefully the brilliant illustration of a sado-masochistic penguin will make you rush out and buy the print edition (Random House publishes spankbuster 50 Shades of Grey).