Global Issues: Austria & Czech Republic/Case Reports/Museums
Sigmund Freud Museum (Vienna)
In the former living quarters and office of Sigmund Freud in the house at Berggasse 19 in Vienna's ninth district, the Sigmund Freud Museum presents an exhibition documenting the life and work of the founder of psychoanalysis. Freud lived and worked in this house from 1891 until 1938, when on 4 June he was forced by the National Socialists to flee with his family into exile in England. History/Timeline: Over the years the museum was expanded in several phases. Initially limited to the few rooms of Sigmund Freud's former practice, the facility underwent major expansion during the '80s and '90s. The addition of a new library was followed by a museum shop, a book storage unit and a modern lecture and exhibition hall in the newly integrated private apartment of the Freud family. The various phases of remodeling were overseen by architect Wolfgang Tschapeller, whose additions maintain a clear distance from the historical structure. Today Anna Freud's rooms house a collection of contemporary art, the Sigmund Freud Museum Contemporary Art Collection. Historical film clips assembled and commentated by Anna Freud that depict moments in the private life of Freud and his family are shown in a video room.
In 2002, the museum gained a new "exterior surface" through the acquisition of the Berggasse 19 storefront in which Siegmund Kornmehl operated his kosher butcher shop until 1938. Starting with the installation "A View to Memory" by Joseph Kosuth, the Sigmund Freud Foundation has since May 2002 regularly invited artists to redefine the storefront as a space for artistic intervention.
For many Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), the father of psychoanalysis is Vienna’s most famous sons. His writings not only influenced the intellectual thinkers of his day, but have formed the basis of psychological thought throughout the world (Vienna: City Guide). Thus, the museum is his home country of Vienna is testament to the significance the country has educating generations since the time of Sigmund Freud. The interior decoration of the museum was carried out in 1971 with the help of Anna Freud, Sigmund Freud's youngest daughter. Original furnishings, including the waiting room, a selection from Freud’s collection of antiquities, and signed copies and first editions of his works provide a glimpse into Freud's biography, his cultural environment and the development of psychoanalysis. The museum owns the original furniture from his waiting room, nearly eighty pieces of Freud’s collection of antiques, and some of his personal belongings. In addition, the few existing original films and sound recordings of Sigmund Freud and his family can be viewed in the museum’s media room.
Today Berggasse 19 stands programmatically for the institutions and activities that deepen knowledge about psychoanalysis, its historical dimensions and its links to art. While many of Freud’s ideas are as controversial today as they were in his time, there is no doubting his contribution to psychology; “free association” – the practice of having patients lie on a couch and talk about whatever came to mind- is still the common method of psychotherapy in the United States and around the world. The concept of the unconscious is present in many schools of psychoanalytical thought. Additional information: The Library of Congress, in Washington, D.C. holds the most extensive collection of Freud documentation. Thus, Freud admirers and enthusiasts here in the United States do not have to travel to Europe to acquire a first-hand learning experience of the acclaimed psychoanalysis.
- Lonely Planet Travel Book: Vienna
Franz Kafka Museum (Prague)
The Franz Kafka Museum of Prague is dedicated to the Prague-born author, Franz Kafka. The first part of the museum is dedicated to setting the scene. It shows photographs of Prague during Kafka's lifetime and conjures up a vivid picture of the city’s thriving Jewish community. One glass box contains photos of artists, writers and musicians who were Kafka’s peers, including his friend Max Brod. It is easy to imagine these young men walking around Prague’s Old Town, or hanging out in the city’s café’s, just as the young do now. Some of these same names appear in the memorial in the Pinkas Synagogue, dedicated to victims of the Holocaust.
The long-term exhibition, The City of K. Franz Kafka and Prague, has made its home here after a stay in Barcelona and then New York. The City of K. Franz Kafka and Prague takes place in summer, a time of special significance for Kafka. He was born here on 3rd July 1883, died in a sanatorium at Kierling on 3rd June 1924, and was buried in Prague on 11th June.
FRANZ KAFKA BIOGRAPHY ( 1883 - 1924 )
1883 - Franz Kafka is born in Prague on 3 July. His father, Hermann Kafka, is a merchant from a modest background. His mother, Julie Löwy, is from a Jewish family whose religion is more deeply rooted than her husband’s. 1889 - 1893 - Primary school on the Fleischmarktgasse (Meat Market Street). Sisters, Gabrielle, called Elli, Valerie, called Valli, and Ottilie, called Ottla, are born during this period. 1893 - 1900 - Studies at the Altstädter German Institute. First friends are: Oskar Pollak and Rudolf Illový. The Kafka family lives on the Zeltnergasse. 1901 - 1902 - Higher education at the German University of Prague; first chemistry; in the summer, German studies, then law. Spends the summer holiday at Liboch, near Prague, and travels to Munich. First meetings with Max Brod. 1903 - Up until this year, has destroyed his first exercises in style. Reads Nietzsche. July: state exams in history of law. 1904 - Autumn / winter: probably, the first draft of "Description of a Strunggle" ("Beschreibung eine Kampfes"). 1905 - In the month of August, he travels to Zuckmantel, Silesia, to stay at a sanatorium. 1906 - Obtains his doctorate in law. In October, begins the year of legal work necessary to exercise the profession. 1907 - Writes "Wedding Preparations in the Country" (Hochzeitsvorbereitungen auf dem Lande"). The family moves to Niklastrasse (Nikolas Street). In October, he starts work at the Prague office of the Assicurazioni Generali, a company headquartered in the Italian city of Trieste, then Austrian. 1908 - The first pieces appear, eight fragments, in the magazine Hyperion. Beginning in July of this year until July 1922, works at the Arbeiterunfall und Versicherungsanstalt (Workers' Accident Insurance Institute). 1909 - "Conversation with the Supplicant" and "Conversation with the Drunk" are published in Hyperion. Spends holiday in Riva (on lake Garda) with Max and Otto Brod. On 29 September, the Prague daily Bohemia publishes the tale "The Airplanes at Brescia" ("Die Aeroplane in Brescia"). He started to write a diary. 1910 - In the Easter supplement of Bohemia, five prose pieces appear under the title "Reflections" ("Betrachtungen"). Starts writing the Diaries. He attends Yiddish theater performances. In the middle of October, travels to Paris with Max and otto Brod. Kafka falls ill and returns alone to Prague. In early December, travels to Berlin. 1911 - Spends his holidays by the lake in northern Italy with Max Brod. Spends a period at the Erlenbach sanatorium. His interest in Yiddish theater grows and he makes friends with Jizchak Löwy. The Diaries are already voluminous. In February, writes The Urban World (Die städtische Welt), an extraordinary dream. From 26 August to 12 Septem´ber, with Max Brod, passes through Munich on his way to Zurich, Lucerne, Lugano, Milan, and Lake Maggiore. From Italy they go on to Paris, where Kafka writes some notes as an exceptional observes, and then return to Milan, where they see plays at the Fossati Theater. In Paris, they have seen Racine's Phaedra and Bizet's Carmen. 1912 - A decisive year for the writer. During the first month he starts The Man Who Disappeared ("Der Verschollene"), which will later be given the title America by Max Brod. Spends July in Weimar with Max Brod. Is introduced to Felice Bauer, with whom in October will begin a copious correspondence. From November to December, tireless and insomniac, writes "Die Verwandlung" (literally, "the transformation," but known generally as "The Metamorphosis"). By January 1913, has written seven chapters of The Man Who Disappeared, the original title of the novel, which for a long time was published inder the title of America. In December, gives a public reading of "The Judgment" ("Das Urteil"). The number of pages in the Diaries decreases while the letters to Felice abound. 1913 - In Leipzig, Rowohlt publishes Meditation (Betrachtung), which has been in circulation since November 1912. In January, Kafka travels to Berlin to meet Felice Bauer's family. In May, makes a second trip to Berlin. In September, travels to Vienna, Venice, and Riva. 1914 - In June, becomes engaged to Felice Bauer. In July, breaks off the engagement. Travels to the Baltic. In August, moves to his own rented lodgings on Bilekgasse street. Begins writing The Trial (Der Prozess). Elias Canetti, in his 1969 essay Kafka's Other Trial (Der andere Prozess Kafkas), makes a connection between the "trial" of Kafka's engagement and breakup with Felice and its transformation into the novel The Trial. Meets Felice's friend Grete Bloch. October" writes "In the Penal Colony" ("In der Strafkolonie"). 1915 - In January, goes to see Felice Bauer. In March, moves to his own apartment on Lange Gasse (Long Street). (Kafka almost lived with his parents, except for some periods such as those noted and his final days in Berlin). The expressionist playwright Carl Sternheim presents the Fontane prize money to Kafka. November: in Leipzig, Rohwohlt publishes "The Metamorphosis" (Die Verwandlung"). "The Metamorphosis" is display in bookshops, along with "The Judgment". 1916 - In July, goes to Marienbad with Felice. Writes short stories for A Country Doctor (Ein Landartz). In Munich, gives a reading of "In the Penal Colony". 1917 - In the evening and at nights, he worked on Alchemists Street, and then takes a room in the Schönborn Palace. In July, becomes engaged to Felice for the second time. On 4 September, is diagnosed with tuberculosis. Takes a leave from work and spends time in Zürau with Ottla. Writes "Aphorisms". In December, in Prague, breaks off his engagement with Felice for the second time. 1918 - First, to Zürau, where he studies Kierkegaard. In the summer, to Prague. In September, to Turnau. In November, to Schelesen. Relationship with Julie Wohryzek, from a modest family, greatly displeases Kafka's father. 1919 - A Country Doctor and "In the Penal Colony" are published. Spends the summer in Prague. Becomes engaged to Julie Wohryzek. Spends the winter with Max Brod in Schelesen. Writes "Letter to his Father" ("Brief an den Vater"), a document as hurtful as a shot to the hierarchical heart of the family, but prevented from reaching its intended recipient by his mother. 1920 - Sick leave in Merano. Correspondence with Milena Jesenská. Summer and autumn, office work in Prague. Breaks up with Julie Wohryzek. Goes to Matliare, in the Tatra Mountains, for the following moths. Strikes up a friendship with a doctor, Robert Klopstock. 1921 - In the Tatra Mountains (Matliare) until September. In Prague for the rest of the year. 1922 - January and February in Spindelmühle. Returns to Prague. Reads pages from The Castle (Das Schloss), which he works on from January to September. In the spring, writes "A Hunger Artist" ("Ein Hungerkünstler") and in the summer, "Investigations of a Dog" ("Forschungen eines Hundes"). Spends June to September in Planá with Ottla, then Prague. 1923 - Spends July in Müritz, on the Baltic Sea. Meets Dora Dymant. Goes to stay with Ottla at Schelesen. From September to March, lives in Berlin with Dymant, a Zionist who revives in Kafka the desire to go and settle in Palestine. Writes some of the narratives that, together with those of the previous year, epitomize the purest traits of his production: "A Little Woman" ("Eine kleine Frau") and "The Burrow" ("Der Bau"). 1924 - Berlin. In March, leaves for Prague. Writes "Josephine, the Singer, or the Mouse Folk." Kafka can neither talk nor swallow his food. Leaves Prague at the beginning of April. Goes to the Kierling Sanatorium, with Robert Klopstock and Dora Dymant. Dies there on 3 June. The writer is buried on 11 June in Prague. "A Hunger Artist" is published that summer.
The symbiosis between Prague and Kafka's life and work is well known - a linking of destinies that, for several decades, Kafka scholars have studied from every possible angle. This is due not only to the nature of the exhibits themselves but also, and primarily, to the way the exhibition is thematically presented. The exhibition has got two sections - Existential Space and Imaginary Topography. Existential Space - In this first stage of our immersion into the world of Kafka, we look at what the city does with the writer, how it shapes his life, the kind of stamp it leaves on him. Prague acts on Kafka with all of its metamorphosing power, confining him to an existential space which he can only enter by "fixing my gaze on the surface of things", Prague forces Kafka into a spatial stranglehold, perversely dosing out its secrets. Prague contributes the myth, its obscure magic, a magnificent backdrop, but it abhors clarity. And this is precisely what Kafka detects. He sees the city as a "dear little mother with claws", endowed with a past which is greater than its present, shielded by its charm, yet also raising a great, constantly threatening fist. His Diaries and a voluminous correspondence with his family, friends, lovers and editors bear witness to this influence. Our aim is to explore the city, seeing it from Kafka's point of view. An exclusively biographical or merely chronological approach would not be enough; the challenge lies in condensing the principal conflicts in the life of Kafka in Prague, guided by the writer's own gaze. This means joining Kafka on his descent into the depths of his city, adapting ourselves to his sensorial range and cognitive register, becoming involved in a slow distortion of space-time - in short, agreeing to an experience where everything is allowed except indifference. Imaginary Topography - The way Kafka creates the layers of his city is one of the most enigmatic operations of modern literature. With the odd exception, Kafka does not name the places he describes in his novels and short stories. The city steps back is no longer recognizable by its buildings, bridges and monuments. And even if they are recognized by an inhabitant of Prague or by a student of Kafka, they have become something else. People are often keen to pinpoint real Prague places in Kafka's fiction. It is generally recognized that the anonymous cathedral in The Trial is none other than St. Vitus cathedral, and that the path taken by Joseph K. in the last chapter leads from the Old Town to the outer limits of Kleinseite, over Charles Bridge. It is also said that in The Judgment, from Georg Bendemann's window, we recognize the wharf, the river, the opposite bank of the Moldava, just as they could be seen from Niklasstrasse, where the Kafka family lived in 1912. Efforts have been made to prove that the topography of Prague is a constant which simply goes unnamed.
Yet this is not what really matters. In his fiction, Kafka carries out a more difficult operation: he turns Prague into an imaginary topography which transcends the fallacy of realism. Kafka's phantasmal architecture has other ends. Rather than a particular house, school, office, church, prison or castle being important, it is what these constructions reveal when they act as topological metaphors or allegorical places. What surprises does this transfigured Prague hold in store? Just how far can the metamorphosis of a city take us?
Franz Kafka is considered to be one of the most important and influential writers of the 20th century. His work, most of which was published posthumously, continues to be a source of research, scholarship and philosophical discussion in diverse academic, literary and popular arenas.