Max Brod

The wry humour of Franz Kafka

How do you see Franz Kafka? That is, how do you picture him in your mind’s eye? If you are Nicolas Mahler, the writer and illustrator of a short but engaging graphic biography of the man, you’d see him as a sort of blob of hair and eyebrows on a stick. The illustrations of Completely Kafka may look rudimentary, but they work. In fact they’re similar in style to the doodles Kafka himself would make in his notebooks. If you were Kafka, you’d see yourself as a spindly man, head on desk, leaning on your hands, arms bent, in a posture of defeat and exhaustion. That image is chosen for

Will the photo of your lost loved one be replaced by a chatty robot?

They didn’t call Diogenes ‘the Cynic’ for nothing. He lived to shock the (ancient Greek) world. When I’m dead, he said, just toss my body over the city walls to feed the dogs. The bit of me that I call ‘I’ won’t be around to care. The revulsion we feel at this idea tells us something important: that the dead can be wronged. Diogenes may not have cared what happened to his corpse, but we do; and doing right by the dead is a job of work. Some corpses are reduced to ash, some are buried, and some are fed to vultures. In each case, the survivors all feel, rightly,