Oskar Pollak


Kafka’s close friend from their years at the high school. He was a gifted, intellectually mature and determined student, who was severe in his judgments and academically ambitious. He studied the history of art and graduated at the same time as Kafka, submitting a dissertation on the statues on Charles Bridge. They were both active in the German Student Reading and Lecture Hall. He was a major influence on Kafka’s thinking at university as can be seen from the extant correspondence. It was Pollak who introduced Kafka to the journal Kunstwart – whose style he succumbed to for a while – and most likely also to Nietzsche. The character of the ‘friend’ in Description of a Struggle is probably a projection of Pollak. Pollak soon left for Rome and his Roman studies led to valuable work on Italian baroque. His work on art during the reign of Urban VIII was published posthumously. After the outbreak of World War I, Pollak volunteered for the army and fell on the Italian front at Isonzo.