You set particular by the use of irony in bringing me up, it was also especially fitting given your superiority over me. You usually reprimanded me like this: "Can't you do it this way instead? Isn't that a bit too much for you? Surely you don't have time for that?" or similar. And all of these questions were accompanied by a spiteful laugh or a spiteful face. You punished me sometimes even before I had done wrong. When you particularly wanted to antagonize me you would refer to me in the third person, as if I was not even worthy of an angry address; you would say ostensibly to Mother, but actually to me as I sat there too, something like: "We simply can't have that kind of behavior from our son" (This produced a counter habit in me: I never dared, or later never even thought, out of sheer habit, to address you directly while mother was present. It was far less dangerous for me to put questions to Mother as long as she sat beside you, so I would ask Mother: "How is Father?", thus protecting myself from any surprises). Of course, there were times when I agreed with your extreme irony, notably when its target was someone else, Elli for example, with whom I had been on bad terms for years. For me it was an orgy of malice and Schadenfreude when you referred to her like this at almost every meal: "Look at the fat cow, she has to sit ten meters from the table," and again when you imitated her, in spiteful and exaggerated fashion as you sat in your chair, without the faintest hint of warmth or humor, but rather with bitter enmity, as if trying to show how terribly she offended your sensibilities. How often scenes like this must have occurred, and how little they actually achieved. This, I think, was because the extent of your anger and spite was so disproportionate to the matter at hand, we felt that your anger could not have been caused by such a trivial thing as sitting so far from the table, rather it must have been latent from the beginning, triggered in this case purely by chance. Since we were convinced that it would eventually be triggered anyway, we did not really let it trouble us, we were also desensitized by your constant threats; little by little we gradually became aware that there was no danger of a real thrashing. We became surly, unobservant, disobedient children, constantly preoccupied with escape, mostly internal escape. And so you suffered, and we suffered. In your opinion you were doing no wrong when you stood there with clenched teeth and that gurgling laugh which had given me my first idea of hell as a child, and said bitterly (as you did recently on receiving a letter from Constantinople): "What a rabble!"
—Franz Kafka, Brief an den Vater (Dearest Father), 1919 (translation Hannah and Richard Stokes)