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Franz Kafka, translated by Michael Hofmann: Unknown Laws

15 July 2015
... has been imposed on us is the nobility, and who are we to rob ourselves of the only law we have? Franz Kafka’s ‘The Problem of Our Laws’ – ‘Zur Frage der Gesetze’ – was translated by Michael ...

Bad Faith

J.P. Stern

21 July 1983
Franz Kafka’s Loneliness 
by Marthe Robert, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Faber, 251 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 9780571119455
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Kafka’s Narrators 
by Roy Pascal.
Cambridge, 251 pp., £22.50, March 1982, 0 521 24365 3
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The Trial 
by Franz Kafka, translated by Willa Muir and Edwin Muir.
Penguin, 255 pp., £1.75, October 1983, 0 14 000907 8
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Letters to Milena 
by Franz Kafka and Willy Haas, translated by Tania Stern and James Stern.
Penguin, 188 pp., £2.50, June 1983, 0 14 006380 3
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The Penguin Complete Novels of Franz Kafka‘The Trial’, ‘The Castle’, ‘America’ 
translated by Willa Muir, illustrated by Edwin Muir.
Penguin, 638 pp., £4.95, June 1983, 0 14 009009 6
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The Penguin Complete Short Stories of Franz Kafka 
edited by Nahum Glatzer.
Penguin, 486 pp., £3.95, June 1983, 0 14 009008 8
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... with André Breton on a splendid volume of Lichtenberg’s aphorisms. She is deeply familiar with Kafka’s writings, having translated most of them into French: her knowledge of books on Kafka and the world he lived in is less impressive. The scheme she follows here is neither chronological nor thematic, but is formed by ...

Möbius Strip

Dan Jacobson

3 December 1981
K: A Biography of Kafka 
by Ronald Hayman.
Weidenfeld, 349 pp., £16.50, October 1981, 0 297 77996 6
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Stories 1904-1924 
by Franz Kafka, translated by J.A. Underwood.
Macdonald, 271 pp., £7.50, November 1981, 9780354046398
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... obvious and yet an irresolvable affront to one’s sense of order and logic. The writings of Franz Kafka, I would suggest, are the literary equivalent of the Möbius strip. Consider this tiny sampling of passages from his letters and diaries quoted in Mr Hayman’s biography: [Of a present sent to a correspondent] Keep it in your pocket, it will ...

A Human Kafka

Gabriel Josipovici

5 March 1981
The World of Franz Kafka 
edited by J.P. Stern.
Weidenfeld, 263 pp., £9.95, January 1981, 0 297 77845 5
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... When Kafka died in 1924, not one of his novels had been published. He was known to a small circle – though Janouch’s testimony shows that that circle spread beyond his friends – as the author of a story about a man who turned into a beetle. Brod published The Trial in 1925, and followed it with The Castle (1926), America (1927) and a volume of short fragments and aphorisms, The Great Wall of China (1931 ...

What kind of funny is he?

Rivka Galchen: Under Kafka’s Spell

4 December 2014
KafkaThe Years of Insight 
by Reiner Stach, translated by Shelley Frisch.
Princeton, 682 pp., £24.95, June 2013, 978 0 691 14751 2
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KafkaThe Decisive Years 
by Reiner Stach, translated by Shelley Frisch.
Princeton, 552 pp., £16.25, June 2013, 978 0 691 14741 3
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... I have come​ to the conclusion that anyone who thinks about Kafka for long enough inevitably develops a few singular, unassimilable and slightly silly convictions. (The graph may be parabolic, with the highest incidence of convictions – and the legal resonance is invited – found among those who have spent the most time thinking and those who have spent next to no time thinking ...

All of a Tremble

David Trotter: Kafka at the pictures

4 March 2004
Kafka Goes to the Movies 
by Hanns Zischler, translated by Susan Gillespie.
Chicago, 143 pp., £21, January 2003, 0 226 98671 3
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... His name was Franz Kafka, and he quite often went to the movies. Some such statement constitutes both the basis of Kafka Goes to the Movies and its primary impediment: the rock it has to roll up the hill. According to Max Brod, his lifelong friend and first editor and biographer, Kafka loved the movies; at times, Brod reported, he would talk about little else ...

On Lawrence Joseph

Michael Hofmann

19 March 2020
... instead of famously not doing so, Jane Austen had written only about the Napoleonic Wars, or Kafka about World War One.In Joseph’s poems, anything could go anywhere. It’s a principle that provides a sort of unity. Jump-cuts in every direction, continuity by leaching. Mingled, mangled, maximal diction, anything from the technical jargon of finance to ...

Who Owns Kafka?

Judith Butler

3 March 2011
...  An ongoing trial in Tel Aviv is set to determine who will have stewardship of several boxes of Kafka’s original writings, including primary drafts of his published works, currently stored in Zurich and Tel Aviv. As is well known, Kafka left his published and unpublished work to Max Brod, along with the explicit instruction that the work should be destroyed on Kafka’s death ...

Flower Power

P.N. Furbank: Jocelyn Brooke

8 May 2003
'The Military Orchid’ and Other Novels 
by Jocelyn Brooke.
Penguin, 437 pp., £10.99, August 2002, 0 14 118713 1
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... ways fairly amateurish. He is capable of falling into the dimmest dry facetiousness: ‘The late Franz Kafka was never, if his biographers are to be trusted, employed at the Royal Crimean Hospital – a fact which the many admirers of his work cannot but deplore, since the experience would doubtless have supplied him with unique and valuable material ...
23 July 1987
... There are many perils in writing about Kafka. His work has been garrisoned by armies of critics with some fifteen thousand books about him at the last count. As there is a Fortress Freud so is there a Fortress Kafka, Kafka his own castle. For admission a certain high seriousness must be deemed essential and I am not sure I have it ...

‘OK, holy man, try this

Ian Hamilton: The Hypothetical Philip Roth

22 June 2000
The Human Stain 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 361 pp., £16.99, May 2000, 0 224 06090 2
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... novelist. Much of his writing practice, he has said, takes off from a ‘what if?’ What if Franz Kafka had made it to America and there lived on to become a New Jersey schoolmaster? What if Anne Frank had survived and found out about the publication of her diary from a chance reading of Time magazine? What if a man could actually become a ...
20 October 1983
... you can have knowledge of it, from here. Yes, you gave me that much credit, you said I was a true Kafka in ‘strength ... eloquence, endurance, a certain way of doing things on a grand scale’ and I’ve not been content just to rot. In that way, I’m still the man I was, the go-getter. Restless. Restless. Taking whatever opportunity I can. There isn’t ...

The Wall

Eliot Weinberger

5 July 2012
... and not bothering to touch his toes. Border guard XXXXXXXXX was censured for copying passages from Franz Kafka in his diary. Border guard XXXXXXXXX was censured for owning a toy Mercedes automobile with an integrated measuring tape. Border guard XXXXXXXXX was censured for being a committed fan of beat music. Border guard XXXXXXXXX was censured for falling ...

Double Thought

Michael Wood: Kafka in the Office

20 November 2008
Franz KafkaThe Office Writings 
edited by Stanley Corngold, Jack Greenberg and Benno Wagner, translated by Eric Patton and Ruth Hein.
Princeton, 404 pp., £26.95, November 2008, 978 0 691 12680 7
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... Can we manage this logical feat? And where are we? We are in a room at the Herrenhof Inn, in Kafka’s novel The Castle. The time is around 5 a.m.; K, the land surveyor hired by the castle authorities, but not as yet entrusted with any land-surveying, has an appointment with an official. His great goal, we have learned by now, is not necessarily to get ...

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