Synopses & Reviews
"Went to the movies. Wept. Matchless entertainment." So wrote Franz Kafka in one of his diaries, giving us but one hint of his little-known passion for the cinema. Until now, Kafka aficionados have been left to speculate about which films moved Kafka so powerfully and how those films might have influenced his writing. With Kafka Goes to the Movies
, German actor and film director Hanns Zischler draws on years of detective work to provide the first account of Kafka's moviegoing life.
Since many of Kafka's visits to the cinema occurred during bachelor trips with Max Brod, Zischler's research took him not only to Kafka's native Prague but to film archives in Munich, Milan, and Paris. Matching Kafka's cinematic references to reviews and stills from daily papers, Zischler hunted down rare films in collections all across Europe. A labor of love, then, by a true man of the cinema, Kafka Goes to the Movies brims with discoveries about the pioneering years of European film. With a wealth of illustrations, including reproductions of movie posters and other rare materials, Zischler opens a fascinating window onto movies that have been long forgotten or assumed lost.
But the real highlights of the book are those about Kafka himself. Long considered one of the most enigmatic figures in literature, the Kafka that emerges in this work is strikingly human. Kafka Goes to the Movies offers an absorbing look at a witty, passionate, and indulgently curious writer, one who discovered and used the cinema as a place of enjoyment and escape, as a medium for the ambivalent encounter with modern life, and as a filter for the changing world around him.
"The slenderness of this volume belies the substantial breadth of information packed within....[This book] brings an altogether fresh perspective to the life of Kafka, always an absorbing subject, and offers a fine look at a fascinating era of cinematic history." Library Journal
"Regrettably, this poor translation fails [to intrigue], as some sections seem muddled....While the illustrative material is eye-catching and some of Zischler's items are enticing...the book is largely unsatisfying." Publishers Weekly
"The prose, translated by Susan H. Gillespie, is too stiff for a layman's book, and for an academic study it's stingy on analysis....Kafka Goes to the Movies can feel like all lyrics and no music....Still, Kafka Goes to the Movies is a charmingly eccentric little work of obsession. If it makes no grand statements about Kafka as an author, it offers illuminating details about Kafka as a man of his time..." James Poniewozik, The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
has directed TV movies and live theater and has appeared himself in films by Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, and Wim Wenders. He is a cofounder of Merve and Alpheus Publishers and is the author of Tagesreisen
and You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover
Susan H. Gillespie is director of the Institute for International Liberal Education at Bard College and the translator of works by Theodor Adorno, Friedrich Hölderlin, and Helga Königsdorf, among others.
Table of Contents
Les Correspondences Douloureuses, or the Pavement Pounder
The Kaiser Panorama
That White Slave Girl Again
Paris in Dotted Lines, or the Theft of the Mona Lisa
Torn Away, or Lützow's Wild Chase
The Arbitrary Example, or The Other
An Invisible Sight, or The Heartbreaker
The Movie Queen
The Light...the Screen...Slaves of Gold
Au Revoir and Déjà Vu
Afternoon, Palestine Film