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Nearly one hundred years after Franz Kafka’s death, his works continue to intrigue and haunt us. Kafka is regarded as one of the most significant intellectuals of the nineteenth and twentieth century, and even for those who are only barely acquainted with his novels, stories, diaries, or letters, “Kafkaesque” has become a term synonymous with the menacing, unfathomable absurdity of modern existence and bureaucracy. While the significance of his fiction is wide-reaching, Kafka’s writing remains inextricably bound up with his life and work in a particular place: Prague. It is here that the author spent every one of his forty years.
Drawing from a range of documents and historical materials, this is the first book specifically dedicated to the relationship between Kafka and Prague. Klaus Wagenbach’s account of Kafka’s life in the city is a meticulously researched insight into the author’s family background, his education and employment, his attitude toward the town of his birth, his literary influences, and his relationships with women. The result is a fascinating portrait of the twentieth century’s most enigmatic writer and the city that provided him with so much inspiration. W. G. Sebald recognized that “literary and life experience overlap” in Kafka’s works, and the same is true of this book.