Kafka: The Early Years

Princeton University Press
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How did Kafka become Kafka? This eagerly anticipated third and final volume of Reiner Stach's definitive biography of the writer answers that question with more facts and insight than ever before, describing the complex personal, political, and cultural circumstances that shaped the young Franz Kafka (1883–1924). It tells the story of the years from his birth in Prague to the beginning of his professional and literary career in 1910, taking the reader up to just before the breakthrough that resulted in his first masterpieces, including "The Metamorphosis." Brimming with vivid and often startling details, Stach’s narrative invites readers deep inside this neglected period of Kafka’s life. The book’s richly atmospheric portrait of his German Jewish merchant family and his education, psychological development, and sexual maturation draws on numerous sources, some still unpublished, including family letters, schoolmates’ memoirs, and early diaries of his close friend Max Brod.

The biography also provides a colorful panorama of Kafka’s wider world, especially the convoluted politics and culture of Prague. Before World War I, Kafka lived in a society at the threshold of modernity but torn by conflict, and Stach provides poignant details of how the adolescent Kafka witnessed violent outbreaks of anti-Semitism and nationalism. The reader also learns how he developed a passionate interest in new technologies, particularly movies and airplanes, and why another interest—his predilection for the back-to-nature movement—stemmed from his “nervous” surroundings rather than personal eccentricity.

The crowning volume to a masterly biography, this is an unmatched account of how a boy who grew up in an old Central European monarchy became a writer who helped create modern literature.

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About the author

Reiner Stach worked extensively on the definitive edition of Kafka's collected works before embarking on his three-volume biography of the writer. The other volumes are Kafka: The Decisive Years and Kafka: The Years of Insight (both Princeton). Shelley Frisch's translations of those volumes were awarded the Modern Language Association's Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize and the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize. Her many other translations from the German include Karin Wieland's Dietrich & Riefenstahl, a finalist for the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Oct 25, 2016
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Pages
584
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ISBN
9781400884476
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Literary
Literary Criticism / European / Eastern
Literary Criticism / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Ritchie Robertson
'When Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from troubled dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous insect ...' So begins Franz Kafka's most famous story Metamorphosis. Franz Kafka (1883-1924) is among the most intriguing and influential writers of the twentieth century. During his lifetime he worked as a civil servant and published only a handful of short stories, the best known being The Transformation. All three of his novels, The Trial, The Castle, and The Man Who Disappeared [America], were published after his death and helped to found Kafka's reputation as a uniquely perceptive interpreter of the twentieth century. Kafka's fiction vividly evokes bizarre situations: a commercial traveller is turned into an insect, a banker is arrested by a mysterious court, a fasting artist starves to death in the name of art, a singing mouse becomes the heroine of her nation. Attending both to Kafka's crisis-ridden life and to the subtleties of his art, Ritchie Robertson shows how his work explores such characteristically modern themes as the place of the body in culture, the power of institutions over people, and the possibility of religion after Nietzsche had proclaimed 'the death of God'. The result is an up-to-date and accessible portrait of a fascinating author which shows us ways to read and make sense of his perplexing and absorbing work. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Dikran Mesrob Kaligian
This book provides a comprehensive picture of Armeno-Turkish relations for the brief period of Ottoman Constitutional rule between 1908 and 1914. Kaligian integrates internal documents of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, and existing research on the last years of the empire, as well as the archives of the British, American, and German diplomatic corps. By reducing the overemphasis on central government policies and by describing unofficial contacts, political relations, and provincial administration and conditions, Kaligian provides a unified account of this key period in Ottoman history. Kaligian sets out to resolve many of the conflicting conclusions in the current historiography—including the most central issue, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation relations with the Turkish Committee of Union and Progress. It is impossible to obtain a true picture of Armeno-Turkish relations without an accurate analysis of their two leading parties. This study finds that the ARF was torn between maintaining relations with a CUP that had failed to implement promised reforms and was doing little to prevent increasing attacks on the Armenian population, or break off relations thus ending any realistic chance for the constitutional system to succeed. The party continued to stake its reputation and resources on the success of constitutional government even after the trauma of the 1909 Adana massacres. The decisive issue was the failure of land restitution. This book sets the record straight in terms of understanding Armeno-Turkish relations during this short but pivotal period. Kaligian’s study, the first of its kind, shows that the party’s internal deliberations support the conclusion that it did remain loyal and contradicts the view that the party’s only aim was to incite a rebellion against Ottoman rule. The author has done an excellent job of leading the reader through this rich history, using primary source information to bridge the gaps from theory, to analysis, to evidence.
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