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By James Rolleston

No different 20th-century author of German-language literature has been as absolutely accredited into the canon of worldwide literature as Franz Kafka. The unsettlingly, enigmatically surreal global of Kafka's novels and tales maintains to fascinate readers and critics of every new new release, who in flip proceed to discover new readings. something has turn into transparent: even though all theories try and applicable Kafka, there's no one key to his paintings. The problem to critics has been to provide a powerful viewpoint whereas taking account of earlier Kafka learn, a problem that has been met by way of the participants to this quantity. participants: JAMES ROLLESTON, CLAYTON KOELB, WALTER H. SOKEL, JUDITH RYAN, RUSSELL A. BERMAN, RITCHIE ROBERTSON, HENRY SUSSMAN, STANLEY CORNGOLD, BIANCA THEISEN, ROLF J. GOEBEL, RICHARD T. grey, RUTH V. GROSS, SANDER L. GILMAN, JOHN ZILCOSKY, MARK HARMAN JAMES ROLLESTON is Professor of German at Duke college.

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Extra info for Companion to the Works of Franz Kafka (Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture)

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Stölzl, Christoph. Kafkas böses Böhmen. Munich: Text und Kritik, 1975. Wagenbach, Klaus. Franz Kafka: Eine Biographie seiner Jugend. Bern: Francke, 1958. Critical Editions I: The 1994 Paperback Edition James Rolleston A Kafka published in his lifetime, his most influential works were edited and published by Max Brod, his close friend and executor, in the years following his death in 1924. Central to his reputation were the three novels: Der Proceß (The Trial, published 1925), Das Schloß (The Castle, 1926), and Der Verschollene (The Missing Person, originally titled Amerika by Brod, 1927).

It is entirely probable that without Brod’s efforts, Kafka’s reputation would never have spread as far as it did, or as fast. It was Brod’s Kafka that everyone read, and Brod’s Kafka that became an international literary phenomenon. So we must, no matter how reluctantly, accept Brod’s editions as the baseline from which one must begin. We must do so in spite of the fact that we now know how heavily Brod intervened in some of this material. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Brod edition of Der Prozeß (I cite the title here as he published it), one of the clearest examples of Brod’s willingness to recast the materials he found in his friend’s legacy.

Kafka thus appeared in the context of a revolution of the most encompassing ambitions, ranging from the aesthetic to the psychological, the social, and even the political realm, and collapsing their traditional distinctions. It was a revolt against human submission to any established reality. Even though it had failed in historical actuality and been superseded by world-wide reaction and the relapse into bourgeois “normality,” or even worse, had to see its aspirations perverted into the “anti-bourgeois” tyrannies of Fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, it nonetheless retained for me, its sadly belated convert, the promise of a resurrection and rebirth.

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