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Kafka

by

Kafka Cover

 

Staff Pick

For fans of the troubled and oft misunderstood writer this, the first volume in a three part series, will prove an essential reference. For fans of literate, incandescent, exquisitely written biographies, Kafka by Reiner Stach will be a standout in any collection.
Recommended by Ann E., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

This is the first of a three-volume, definitive biography of Franz Kafka. Eighty years after his death in 1924, Kafka remains one of the most intriguing figures in the history of world literature. Now, after more than a decade of research, working with over four thousand pages of journal entries, letters, and literary fragments, Reiner Stach re-creates the atmosphere in which Kafka lived and worked from 1910 to 1915. These are the years of Kafka's fascination with early forms of Zionism despite his longing to be assimilated into the minority German culture in Prague; of his off-again, on-again engagement to Felice Bauer; of the outbreak of World War I; and above all of the composition of his seminal works-The Metamorphosis, Amerika, The Judgment, and The Trial.

Kafka:The Decisive Years-at once an extraordinary portrait of the writer and an original contribution to the art of literary biography.

Review:

"We know Kafka better than almost any other literary figure. His tormented psyche has been on view for decades, not only from his great stories and novels but also from countless letters and diary entries, his own as well as those of lovers, and his friend and editor, Max Brod. Oddly, he has not commanded a great biography. German editor and author Stach enters the breach with the first volume of a planned trilogy, now published in an excellent English translation. Stach begins with a superb meditation on the art of biography, including the pitfalls of the empathy a biographer establishes with his subject. He picks up Kafka's life not in childhood, but in 1910, the fitful beginning of his literary career, and follows it only until 1915. But these were the years when Kafka produced some of his greatest works, including 'The Metamorphosis' and The Trial. We see the writer in all his torments, but also his moments of triumph, however fleeting. Most impressive is Stach's recounting of the creation of his subject's writings. The biographer is not deluded by the simplicity of Kafka's prose. His language was elegant and finely honed and, in personal relations, could be used to great manipulative effect. Stach's own writing is wonderfully expressive, a trait that hopefully will be carried through in the next two volumes. 32 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Book News Annotation:

Stach begins his quest to discover "what it was like to be Franz Kafka" with this first volume of a planned three-volume biography. Focusing on the years during which Kafka encountered early forms of Zionism, began his tenuous relationship with Felice Bauer, and wrote his seminal works, Stach finds the beginnings of Kafka's asceticism and alienation. Stach is the German editor of Kafka's collected works.
Annotation 2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Book News Annotation:

Stach begins his quest to discover "what it was like to be Franz Kafka" with this first volume of a planned three-volume biography. Focusing on the years during which Kafka encountered early forms of Zionism, began his tenuous relationship with Felice Bauer, and wrote his seminal works, Stach finds the beginnings of Kafka's asceticism and alienation. Stach is the German editor of Kafka's collected works. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

About the Author

REINER STACH is a widely respected writer, editor, and scholar. After working extensively on the definitive edition of Kafka's collected works, he devoted more than a decade to researching and writing this biography. He lives in Hamburg.

Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction 1

PROLOGUE: The Black Star 16

At Home with the Kafkas 21

Bachelors, Young and Old 42

Actors, Zionists, Wild People 54

Literature and Loneliness: Leipzig and Weimar 71

Last Stop Jungborn 86

A Young Lady from Berlin 94

The Ecstasy of Beginning: "The Judgment" and "The Stoker" 108

A Near Defenestration 119

The Girl, the Lady, and the Woman 134

Love and a Longing for Letters 145

Exultant Weeks, Little Intrigues 159

The Bauer Family 169

America and Back: The Man Who Disappeared 175

The Lives of Metaphors: "The Metamorphosis" 192

The Fear of Going Mad 206

Balkan War: The Massacre Next Door 226

1913 231

The Man Who Disappeared: Perfection and Disintegration 242

Invention and Exaggeration 253

Sexual Trepidation and Surrender 266

The Working World: High Tech and the Ghosts of Bureaucracy 281

The Proposal 297

Literature, Nothing but Literature 324

Three Congresses in Vienna 350

Trieste, Venice, Verona, Riva 368

Grete Bloch: The Messenger Arrives 379

An All-Time Low 390

Kafka and Musil 401

Matrimonial Plans and Asceticism 413

Tribunal in Berlin 433

The Great War 444

Self-Inflicted Justice: The Trial and "In the Penal Colony" 464

The Return of the East 484

The Grand Disruption 493

No-Man's-Land 508

Acknowledgments 517

Translator's note 519

Key to abbreviations 521

Notes 523

Bibliography 551

Photo credits 563

Index 565

Product Details

ISBN:
9780151007523
Translator:
Frisch, Shelley
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Translator:
Frisch, Shelley
Author:
Frisch, Shelley
Author:
Stach, Reiner
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
20th century
Subject:
Authors, Austrian
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Kafka, Franz
Subject:
Authors, Austrian -- 20th century.
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20051107
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Two 16-page black-and-white photo insert
Pages:
592
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 2.16 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » Literary
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Kafka Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$239.95 In Stock
Product details 592 pages Harcourt - English 9780151007523 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

For fans of the troubled and oft misunderstood writer this, the first volume in a three part series, will prove an essential reference. For fans of literate, incandescent, exquisitely written biographies, Kafka by Reiner Stach will be a standout in any collection.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "We know Kafka better than almost any other literary figure. His tormented psyche has been on view for decades, not only from his great stories and novels but also from countless letters and diary entries, his own as well as those of lovers, and his friend and editor, Max Brod. Oddly, he has not commanded a great biography. German editor and author Stach enters the breach with the first volume of a planned trilogy, now published in an excellent English translation. Stach begins with a superb meditation on the art of biography, including the pitfalls of the empathy a biographer establishes with his subject. He picks up Kafka's life not in childhood, but in 1910, the fitful beginning of his literary career, and follows it only until 1915. But these were the years when Kafka produced some of his greatest works, including 'The Metamorphosis' and The Trial. We see the writer in all his torments, but also his moments of triumph, however fleeting. Most impressive is Stach's recounting of the creation of his subject's writings. The biographer is not deluded by the simplicity of Kafka's prose. His language was elegant and finely honed and, in personal relations, could be used to great manipulative effect. Stach's own writing is wonderfully expressive, a trait that hopefully will be carried through in the next two volumes. 32 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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