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Kafka

The Early Years

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Description

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family and his education, psychological development, and sexual maturation draws on numerous sources, some still unpublished, including family letters, schoolmates’ memoirs, and early diaries of his close friend Max Brod.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

From Publishers Weekly

Sep 19, 2016 – German biographer Stach completes his massive three-volume life of the literary giant Franz Kafka (1883 1924) with a long-awaited account of the prodigy's life before 1910, enriched by Frisch's able translation. Kafka's eerie short stories and novels have electrified readers for generations, but Stach's portrait of the young Kafka contradicts the legend of their source in an alienated, detached enigma. Readers meet instead a likable, brilliant young insurance lawyer with, as Stach puts it, abundant perfectionism and self-doubt. Stach explores the Kafka family's complicated relationship to Judaism; Kafka considered converting to Christianity in his youth, but decided not to. He was fond of shop girls and prostitutes, and Stach goes so far as to recount his first sexual experience. The book reveals that Kafka was intrigued by airplanes and the new medium of cinema. Sigmund Freud's bold ideas and Prague's heady pre-WWI intellectual circles, which included the young physicist Albert Einstein, serve as backdrops. The Max Brod archives on which Stach's project depended were litigated for decades. Brod, Kafka's close friend and literary executor, famously refused to destroy the writer's work as instructed and published it instead. Brod's detailed reflections, which dominate much of this final volume, will chiefly interest Kafka scholars, but all Kafka devotees will find this biography's insights deeply fulfilling.
Kafka
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  • $17.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Oct 25, 2016
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Seller: Princeton University Press
  • Print Length: 584 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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