Kafka: The Early Years

Princeton University Press
Free sample

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family and his education, psychological development, and sexual maturation draws on numerous sources, some still unpublished, including family letters, schoolmates’ memoirs, and early diaries of his close friend Max Brod.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.

Read more

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.
Read more



Additional Information

Princeton University Press
Read more
Published on
Oct 25, 2016
Read more
Read more
Read more
Read more
Biography & Autobiography / Literary
Literary Criticism / European / Eastern
Literary Criticism / General
Read more
Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
Read more
Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
Read more
Eligible for Family Library

Reading information

Smartphones and Tablets

Install the Google Play Books app for Android and iPad/iPhone. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.

Laptops and Computers

You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.

eReaders and other devices

To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.
'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.
Vladimir Propp is the Russian folklore specialist most widely known outside Russia thanks to the impact of his 1928 book Morphology of the Folktale-but Morphology is only the first of Propp's contributions to scholarship. This volume translates into English for the first time his book The Russian Folktale, which was based on a seminar on Russian folktales that Propp taught at Leningrad State University late in his life. Edited and translated by Sibelan Forrester, this English edition contains Propp's own text and is supplemented by notes from his students. The Russian Folktale begins with Propp's description of the folktale's aesthetic qualities and the history of the term; the history of folklore studies, first in Western Europe and then in Russia and the USSR; and the place of the folktale in the matrix of folk culture and folk oral creativity. The book presents Propp's key insight into the formulaic structure of Russian wonder tales (and less schematically than in Morphology, though in abbreviated form), and it devotes one chapter to each of the main types of Russian folktales: the wonder tale, the "novellistic" or everyday tale, the animal tale, and the cumulative tale. Even Propp's bibliography, included here, gives useful insight into the sources accessible to and used by Soviet scholars in the third quarter of the twentieth century. Propp's scholarly authority and his human warmth both emerge from this well-balanced and carefully structured series of lectures. An accessible introduction to the Russian folktale, it will serve readers interested in folklore and fairy-tale studies in addition to Russian history and cultural studies.
©2018 GoogleSite Terms of ServicePrivacyDevelopersArtistsAbout Google
By purchasing this item, you are transacting with Google Payments and agreeing to the Google Payments Terms of Service and Privacy Notice.