Reading Kafka

Michael Kumpfmüller’s book about the last year of Kafka’s life,’die Herrlichkeit des Lebens’ went some way to banishing some demons associated with Kafka in my head since finding him fiendishly difficult to understand as a student. I long since threw out my yellow paged, narrow feint Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag editions when moving house some time or other, or possibly enjoyed watching them burn on a bonfire. But after reading this book, I couldn’ t help but be curious about one or two things: what did he write in this last year of his life, how important was Max Brod in his life, what was his relationship with his family like? So after trawling through the Internet I ordered two books from my favourite online bookshop Wordery- both Oxford World Classic editions, ‘A Hunger Artist and other stories’, in a new translation by Joyce Crick (2012) and ‘The Metamorphosis and other stories’, also translated by Joyce Crick.( 2009). Both contain biographical information, a detailed, helpful and comprehensible introduction to the stories by Ritchie Robertson and a fascinating note by Joyce Crick on the challenges of translating Kafka. All in a charming beautifully presented edition in bright yellow and bright orange respectively with a sort of angular stick figure in the foreground. And both at the very competitive Wordery prices too. Wish they’d been around a few years earlier…

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