Before he died, Franz Kafka wrote to his literary executor and friend Max Brod: "Dearest Max, my last request: Everything I leave behind me...in the way of diaries, manuscripts, letters (my own and others'), sketches, and so on, [is] to be burned unread."
Max Brod did not follow through with that request. He published Kakfa's diaries and letters. From the point of views of millions of readers who've gained an incredible insight into the mind of one of most capable (and weird) writers, it's been an amazing gift.
But what about from journal keepers point of view?
If we entrust our journals to someone, declare that our last wish was that they are destroyed, unread, how would we feel about this betrayal? This was done for the best of reasons. Max Brod felt that Kafka's diaries should be read. He was right.
But what about Kakfa's own wishes?
Okay, I know, he is dead. He doesn't know. So what's the right thing here? To go against one man's wishes who is dead, or to deprive millions of people and many generations of these diaries?
I don't have an answer. I'm aware of the dilemma on both sides. I agree with both, and I don't know what I would have done, had I been in Max Brod's shoes.
What about you? How do you feel about this? Do you have strong feelings about either side? How would you deal with disposal of your own diaries?