An extended look at Franz Kafka

An extended look at Franz Kafka

Kafka: The Decisive Years

by Reiner Stach

Princeton University Press (Footprint), $47.95 pb, 624 pp, 9780691147413

Kafka: The Years of Insight

by Reiner Stach

Princeton University Press (Footprint), $65 hb, 728 pp, 9780691147512

Shannon Burns

Shannon Burns

Shannon Burns is a freelance writer and member of the J.M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice. He is a former ABR Patrons'


Franz Kafka lived in Prague in the early part of the twentieth century, during a period of considerable turmoil. Before succumbing to laryngeal tuberculosis aged forty, he witnessed the disintegration of an empire and the subsequent formation of a republic. Kafka also endured the administrative and domestic realities of a world war and was among millions of Europeans infected with Spanish flu. He barely survived the latter, and while Europe’s political convulsions certainly left their mark on the man, most efforts to bring Kafka’s fiction and life into an explanative relation have failed. Perhaps only Elias Canetti’s slim monograph on Kafka’s letters to Felice, Kafka’s Other Trial (1974), stands as the exception.

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Published in April 2014 no. 360

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