Cover

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Half Title, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Series Editor’s Preface

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pp. ix-x

Understanding Modern European and Latin American Literature has been planned as a series of guides for undergraduate and graduate students and nonacademic readers. Like the volumes in its companion series, Understanding Contemporary American Literature, these books provide introductions to the lives and writings of prominent modern author ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

Thanks are due to Gordon Weaver, who asked some years ago if I was interested in doing a volume on Kafka’s short stories for the Twayne Series in Short Fiction, of which he was editor. Then thanks go to the editor of the present volume, the ever-active James Hardin, for the opportunity to return to Kafka. ...

Chronology

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pp. xiii-xvi

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1. Franz Kafka: A Biographical Sketch

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pp. 1-33

There are many biographies, in many languages, that narrate the life of the German-language Jewish writer Franz Kafka. The large number is undoubtedly a result of the fact that knowledge of Kafka’s personal life is important for a proper understanding of his fictions.1 In fact, much has been written to show that Kafka’s personal life offers a key ...

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2. Kafka’s First Experiments in Writing Fiction

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pp. 34-65

Kafka’s writing career has been characterized as having three phases. First came his search for voice, theme, and orientation. This search culminated in what he considered his breakthrough story, “The Judgment,” which can be considered the beginning of Kafka’s career as a major writer—unless one considers Amerika to be equally important. ...

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3. Amerika or Der Verschollene (The Man Who Disappeared or The Missing Person)

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pp. 66-97

Max Brod published Kafka’s first written novel in 1927, after publishing The Trial and The Castle. He entitled it Amerika, a title Edwin Muir and Willa Muir retained for their translation in English. This title has its own history, which older readers may recall, since, with its German spelling, the title served in graffiti for protest movements in the 1960s. ...

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4. “The Judgment” and “The Metamorphosis”

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pp. 98-130

Before Meditation could appear in print and after he had begun work on Amerika, Kafka experienced what he saw as a breakthrough in his quest to become a writer. It occurred in a night of intense writing on 22–23 September 1912, during which he wrote the story “Das Urteil” (“The Judgment”). ...

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5. The Trial and “In the Penal Colony”

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pp. 131-162

Kafka had made much progress in 1914 in writing Der Process (Kafka’s spelling of Der Prozess or The Trial) when he interrupted work on the novel in order to write a story, In der Strafkolonie (“In the Penal Colony”). He returned to the novel but did not put it into finished form (which has made it a virtual requirement for future editors to argue about how to order the text). ...

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6. A Country Doctor and Other Stories

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pp. 163-194

World War I was under way and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire was becoming aware of what a disaster it had set off, like a chain reaction, by declaring war on Serbia when Kafka wrote a diary entry in which he listed for himself what he had done in 1914. By 31 December 1914 he had finished “In the Penal Colony” and a chapter of Amerika, ...

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7. The Castle

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pp. 195-226

After a spurt of creativity in 1920, Kafka apparently wrote little in 1921. Most critics and biographers agree that Kafka then undertook to restore his confidence in himself as a writer by working intensely on his final novel, Das Schloss (The Castle). They support this argument with a diary entry written just before Kafka began to write The Castle ...

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8. A Hunger Artist and the Last Stories

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pp. 227-258

After the Zürau aphorisms, Kafka wrote short texts in spurts of creativity from 1918 until his death. This writing of short stories, parables, and meditations was marked by fallow periods in 1919 and 1921 and by his work on The Castle in 1922. However, 1919 was not entirely fallow if we consider “Letter to His Father” of that year to be part of Kafka’s literary opus. ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 259-266

If Kafka’s legacy is a body of work, written with a unique sense of humor, often comic in designating its failure to transcend itself as writing, then perhaps that legacy can be emblematically represented by one of Kafka’s best-known parables, “Von den Gleichnissen” (“On Parables”), as Brod titled it. A parable about parables and one of the most teasingly enigmatic texts he wrote, ...

Notes

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pp. 267-272

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 273-280

Index

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pp. 281-285