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Kafka: The Nexus Between Art and Neurosis

abstract:

Eighty years after his death in 1924, Kafka remains one of the most intriguing figures in the history of world literature. Reiner Stach has worked ten years to create the first of three volumes that will become the definitive biography, an essential reference, of Franz Kafka. Kafka: The Decisive Years, (Harcourt 2006)

article:

March 12, 2006

REINER STACH

is a widely respected writer, editor, and scholar. After working extensively on the definitive edition of Kafka's collected works, he devoted more than a decade to researching and writing this biography. He lives in Hamburg.

“working with over four thousand pages of journal entries, letters, and literary fragments, Reiner Stach re-creates the atmosphere in which Kafka lived and worked from 1910 to 1915. These are the years of Kafka's fascination with early forms of Zionism despite his longing to be assimilated into the minority German culture in Prague; of his off-again, on-again engagement to Felice Bauer; of the outbreak of World War I; and above all of the composition of his seminal works: The Metamorphosis, Amerika, The Judgment, and The Trial.”

Most impressive is Stach's recounting of the creation of his subject's writings. The biographer is not deluded by the simplicity of Kafka's prose. His language was elegant and finely honed and, in personal relations, could be used to great manipulative effect. Stach's own writing is wonderfully expressive, a trait that hopefully will be carried through in the next two volumes. 32 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

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