I have posted about my love for Franz Kafka’s work many times in these pages. Today I’m lucky enough to talk with Shelley Frisch about translating Reiner Stach’s three-volume biography of Kafka into English. Frisch holds a Ph.D. in German literature from Princeton University, taught at Columbia University and Haverford College, where she served as Chair of the German Department, […]
Reiner Stach, in the middle entry of his three volume biography of Franz Kafka, writes, “Anyone who studies bibliographies today will envy Kafka’s earliest readers, who knew very little about his life and could enjoy his work as literature and not as an accumulation of autobiographical codes.” (186) Stach’s biography (and its beautiful translation into English by Shelley Frisch) seems […]
Josef K. is arrested for no reason at the beginning of Kafka’s The Trial, and at its conclusion he is put to death for no reason as well. Kafka, who worked by day as a lawyer at a Prague insurance company, was well able to illustrate not just the absurdity and inscrutability of bureaucracy, but also its deep cruelty and […]
From Kafka’s novel The Trial: Before the Law stands a doorkeeper. A man from the country comes to this doorkeeper and requests admittance to the Law. But the doorkeeper says that he can’t grant him admittance now. The man thinks it over and then asks if he’ll be allowed to enter later. “It’s possible,” says the doorkeeper, “but not now.” […]
Kafka’s Sisters With thanks I was tubercular and dead by early summer nineteen twenty-four, long in the grave with my intensity before those three sisters rose to follow, Ellie and Ottla and Valli dragged through the cattle-car years down to forty-five. Ellie and Ottla and Valli I sing, deported to Poland, deported to Łódź or all of them dead in […]
Here are some bits from Kafka’s Diaries, trying & failing to harmonize his writing life with his family and work life. All writers have been to some version of this, but few things are as heartbreaking as reading Kafka’s version of it. The first entry is one of the few moments of real elation he was able to document, one […]
Many thanks to the editors of The Basil O’Flaherty, who just published four new poems of mine: Unfinished Michelangelo Kafka’s Sisters (1945) The Painted Caves: Chauvet, Lascaux, Altamira A Disciple of Pythagoras Wins a Chariot Race (496 BC) Special thanks too to Daniel Paul Marshall, who offered his enthusiasm and suggestions for early drafts of these poems.
My recent post about Thomas Wolfe elicited a handful of comments like, “I loved to read him when I was young, but as I get older he no longer holds up.” My own versions of Wolfe are people like Hesse and Dostoevsky, but Kafka has remained one of those authors I latched onto in high school who has never lost […]