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What kind of funny is he?

Rivka Galchen: Under Kafka’s Spell

4 December 2014
Kafka: The 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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Kafka: The 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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... dressings, ends in 1917 with our not exactly heroes climbing out of their trench and running towards the enemy lines. What constitutes the life of Kafka, at least the enduringly legible parts of it? ReinerStach has written a chronological biography of nearly two thousand pages, all three volumes of which are out in German, with the second and third already translated into English by Shelley Frisch ...

In the Nightmare Kitchen

Rivka Galchen: Kafka’s Boyhood

16 March 2017
Kafka: The Early Years 
by Reiner Stach, translated by Shelley Frisch.
Princeton, 564 pp., £27.95, November 2016, 978 0 691 15198 4
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... recognising that he had done something very bad. ‘What did I know? This 13-year-old ersatz man. Trying to handle 15 cheap Parker pens.’Children are mostly wrong, but also superior to us. Reading ReinerStach’s Kafka: The Early Years, I found myself thinking often of Sendak. Maybe this is only because I read too many children’s books too many times, and such rereading makes Kabbalah from ...

Different Speeds, Same Furies

Perry Anderson: Powell v. Proust

19 July 2018
Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 509 pp., £25, October 2017, 978 0 241 14383 4
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... in his early seventies, Musil in his early sixties: Leon Edel and Karl Corino awarded them each two thousand pages. Kafka, who barely reached the age of forty, yielded only five hundred fewer from ReinerStach. Proust, expiring at 51, got just under a thousand apiece from Jean-Yves Tadié and William Carter; Joyce, at 59, eight hundred from Richard Ellmann. Moving down the scale to medium or ...

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