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July 18
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A letter giving a rare insight into Franz Kafka’s struggle with writer’s block is going up for auction, reports CNN.

Best-known for the 1915 novella “The Metamorphosis,” the Prague-born Jewish writer struggled throughout his short life with anxiety, hopelessness, and isolation—themes that came to define his work—but little has been known about his creative process.

The one-page letter, which is expected to sell for £70,000 to £90,000 ($89,000 to $115,000) at Sotheby’s in London, is dated to spring 1920, according to the auction house.

This means it would have been written while Kafka was undergoing treatment for tuberculosis, with which he was diagnosed three years earlier.

He took intermittent sick leave from his job with an insurance company and would often spend periods at sanatoriums.

He retired in 1922 and died in a clinic near Vienna two years later.

“I haven’t written anything for three years, what’s published now are old things, I don’t have any other work, not even started,” Kafka lamented in the letter, written in German and addressed to his friend, the Austrian poet Albert Ehrenstein.

Giving a reason for this literary dry spell, Kafka wrote: “When worries have penetrated to a certain layer of inner existence, writing and complaining obviously cease, indeed my resistance was not too strong.”

The letter was written in response to Ehrenstein asking him to contribute to his magazine, Sotheby’s said in a media statement.

Ehrenstein made the request after seeing a newly published work by Kafka—probably the 1919 short story collection “Ein Landarzt” (“A Country Doctor”).

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