Article: Travel ‘On the Cheap’ with Franz Kafka…guidebook writer

Our democratic age has already provided all of the conditions for easy, universal travel, but this has gone practically unnoticed. Our task is to collect this information and make it known in a systematic fashion

Short article on the Paris Review blog about Franz Kafka’s business idea for a series of guidebooks which also reprints a memorandum outlining the proposal.

Hit upon while travelling in 1911, the guidebooks were supposed to make Kafka a millionaire and relieve the boredom of his office work.

The guides were to be called On the Cheap and were conceived of as a series of guides to be translated into different languages.

It was was to be aimed at budget conscious travellers and full of tips about clothing, avoiding scams, recommended hotels, guidance on shopping, transport details, maps and a language guide.  

The educational aspect—energizing the whole person.
Only poorly oriented travelers are ripped off.
The same pleasure for less money.  

Sound familiar?  It was obviously a good idea as something similar worked for Tony and Maureen Wheeler half a century or so later.   Kafka should have followed the proposed motto for On the Cheap:  “Just Dare”

The article is by Reiner Stach, extracted from his forthcoming book Is that Kafka? 99 Finds, a by product of Stach’s research for his 3 volume biography of Kafka:


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