2024/05/25 - 15:40

Kafka, by Nicholas Murray



Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
The story is well known: the frail, anxiety-ridden young man in Prague who suffers under an overbearing, uncouth father. Every day he trudges off to his boring job at an insurance company. He is drawn to women yet agonizes about every relationship. At night, he writes away but wins scant recognition. He contracts tuberculosis, and his last, truly miserable years are spent in and out of sanatoriums. His final wish is that all his manuscripts be burned, but his best friend violates the request. Within a few years of his death in 1924, Franz Kafka's writings about characters ensnared by the world around them for no apparent reason are recognized as brilliant manifestations of literary modernism. Murray (Bruce Chatwin, etc.) is an experienced biographer and effectively relates Kafka's brief life, trying valiantly to depict a more normal Kafka, a man who lived in society with good friends, enjoyed sex, had wide-ranging intellectual interests and became enamored of Judaism. In Murray's account, Kafka's employer valued him highly, and under the imprint of no less a figure than Kurt Wolff, he experienced some literary success. Despite Murray's best efforts to contain Kafka's idiosyncrasies, though, the writer remains the tormented soul who created out of his personal anxieties and agonies some of the most acclaimed works of the 20th century.
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Product Description:
The definitive biography of the representative writer of our age

Although Franz Kafka (1883–1924) completed only a small number of works in his lifetime, perhaps no other author has had a greater influence on twentieth-century consciousness. This engrossing biography of the Czech novelist and short-story writer emphasizes the cultural and historical contexts of his fiction and focuses for the first time on his complex relationship with his father.

Nicholas Murray paints a picture of Kafka’s German-speaking Jewish family and the Prague mercantile bourgeoisie to which they belonged. He describes Kafka’s demanding professional career, his ill health, and the constantly receding prospects of a marriage he craved. He analyzes Kafka’s poor relationship with his father, Hermann, which found its most eloquent expression in Kafka’s story “The Judgement,” about a father who condemns his son to death by drowning. And he asserts that the unsettling flavor of Kafka’s books—stories suffused with guilt and frustration—derives from his sense of living in a mysteriously antagonistic world, of being a criminal without having knowingly committed a crime.

Compelling and empathetic, this book sheds new light on a man of unique genius and on his enigmatic works.

Nicholas Murray is the author of many books, including biographies of Bruce Chatwin, Matthew Arnold, and Aldous Huxley, a book of poetry, and two novels.

Revision: 2021/01/09 - 23:40 - © Mauro Nervi

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