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Beschreibung des Verlags
Franz Kafka was the poet of his own disorder. Throughout his life he struggled with a pervasive sense of shame and guilt that left traces in his daily existence—in his many letters, in his extensive diaries, and especially in his fiction. This stimulating book investigates some of the sources of Kafka’s personal anguish and its complex reflections in his imaginary world.
In his query, Saul Friedländer probes major aspects of Kafka’s life (family, Judaism, love and sex, writing, illness, and despair) that until now have been skewed by posthumous censorship. Contrary to Kafka’s dying request that all his papers be burned, Max Brod, Kafka’s closest friend and literary executor, editedand publishedthe author’s novels and other works soon after his death in 1924. Friedländer shows that, when reinserted in Kafka’s letters and diaries, deleted segments lift the mask of “sainthood” frequently attached to the writer and thus restore previously hidden aspects of his individuality.
Pulitzer Prize winner Friedlander (for The Years of Extermination) elucidates the enigmas and psychological drama of Kafka's life that undergird the complexities of his fiction. He expounds upon Kafka's emotionally fraught and ambivalent relationships to his friends, family, lovers, Judaism, and own body. Despite the careful presentation of minutiae the conclusions Friedlander draws feel reductive and speculative. For instance, Friedlander unequivocally and repeatedly avers Kafka's homosexuality despite admitting that Kafka only romantically pursued woman, and never confessed such desires, even in his diaries. Friedlander's attempt to undermine Max Brod's portrayal of Kafka as a saint provides illuminating material. However, his portrait of Kafka, as an abject melancholic feels equally caricatured; his analysis is more even handed than his deductions. Friedlander highlights the shame and guilt that undeniably plagued Kafka, but also includes biographical details that contradict this claim, such as his youthful carousing with friends, flirting with women, and frequenting nightclubs. Kafka's biography is as complicated and nuanced, dare one say "Kafkaesque" as his literature, and this biography falls disappointingly short in its treatment of these intricacies. Despite such shortcomings, Friedlander's Kafka monograph has worthy moments of provocative insight through a careful mining of the recent release of new material.