“The Unhappiness of Being a Single Man” — Franz Kafka

“The Unhappiness of Being a Single Man”

by

Franz Kafka

translation by

Alexander Starritt


It seems a terrible thing to stay single for good, to become an old man who, if he wants to spend the evening with other people, has to stand on his dignity and ask someone for an invitation; to be ill and spend weeks looking out of the corner of your bed at an empty room; always to say goodbye at the door; never to squeeze your way up the stairs beside your wife; to live in a room where the side doors lead only to other people’s apartments; to carry your dinner home in one hand; to be forced to admire children you don’t know and not to be allowed to just keep repeating, “I don’t have any”; to model your appearance and behaviour on one or two bachelors you remember from childhood.

That’s how it’s going to be, except that in reality both today and in the future you’ll actually be standing there yourself, with a body and a real head, as well as a forehead, which you can use your hand to slap.

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