“…this [was] in 1924, a few months before Kafka died at age 41. Walking through a park [in Berlin], Kafka came upon a little girl crying her eyes out. When he asked why she was in such distress, the girl sobbed that she had lost her doll.

"Kafka was touched and saddened. He told her not to worry, that her doll had merely gone on a trip—and, in fact, that Kafka knew the doll, having recently seen her as she was about to depart on a journey. He promised that if the little girl would return to the park the next day, he would bring her a letter from the doll. And so each morning over the next several weeks, Kafka brought a letter from the doll, ostensibly written while on her trip, to his new friend.

"During those weeks, Kafka grew more and more ill. He decided to return to Prague—but not before buying the girl another doll.

"Accompanying the new doll was a letter written by Franz Kafka in which he insisted that, appearances to the contrary, this was indeed the doll that belonged to the little girl. Admittedly, he told her, this doll looked different. But you have to understand, he told the girl, her doll had been on a long journey, had witnessed many remarkable sights and endured many difficult experiences. Life, Kafka told his young charge, had changed the doll’s appearance.”

—Never thought I’d quote this guy

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