International photography project maps travels of Franz Kafka

"Journeys of Franz Kafka" is the name of a new project in which award-winning Czech photographer Jan Jindra follows in the footsteps of the literary great, taking black and white pictures of many of the places Kafka visited. One of the project's aims is to dispel the idea that the German-speaking author never left Prague; in fact he travelled rather extensively, around the Czech Republic and to countries such as Germany, France and Italy.

Franz KafkaFranz Kafka Max Brod is known to most people as the person who saved and published Kafka's work after his death. Project organiser Judita Matyasova says the two were also travelling companions.

"He and Max Brod took a Baedeker guidebook and made their way through Italy, Switzerland and then on to France. They were really like two regular young guys, touring about and visiting interesting places. Few people know this about Kafka."

While doing research for the new project, its creators also learned a lot more about Franz Kafka's wide-ranging interests.

"It seems like he must've had more than 24 hours in a day - his interest in various new developments in the fields of culture and technology was incredible. He was interested in everything from modern dance, to vegetarianism to the first air show in Italy. He liked going to the cinema, went motorcycling with his uncle Siegfried - he was an unusually curious person."

The "Journeys of Franz Kafka" project has seen photographer Jan Jindra visit 60 locations to date. Judita Matyasova explains how the writer's travels were retraced.

"The main consultants for our project are two Kafkologists, real experts on Kafka. One of them is Dr Josef Cermak, one of the co-founders of the Franz Kafka society. The other is Dr Hans-Gert Koch, who edited a collection of Kafka's correspondence. They recreated his travels from diaries, letters, postcards. And the photographer Jan Jindra tries to capture the locations in the most authentic possible way."

But it isn't just the people behind the project who have been learning about the various travels of Franz Kafka.

"In Germany, especially in Berlin, people know that Kafka used to visit. But in Switzerland when we toured about visiting the hotels where he stayed on his travels, they only knew he'd been there in one hotel - it was a hotel in which the owners are really interested in its history. Now we're going to Italy...in most places people don't know, so it's a surprise to them."

The "Journeys of Franz Kafka" project - which has received funding from the Czech-German Fund for the Future - can be found at www.franzkafka.info