Author(s): Shelley (TRN) Reiner; Frisch Stach
How did Kafka become Kafka? This eagerly anticipated third and final volume of Reiner Stach's definitive biography of the writer answers that question with more facts and insight than ever before, describing the complex personal, political, and cultural circumstances that shaped the young Franz Kafka (1883-1924). It tells the story of the years from his birth in Prague to the beginning of his professional and literary career in 1910, taking the reader up to just before the breakthrough that resulted in his first masterpieces, including "The Metamorphosis." Brimming with vivid and often startling details, Stach's narrative invites readers deep inside this neglected period of Kafka's life. The book's richly atmospheric portrait of his German Jewish merchant family and his education, psychological development, and sexual maturation draws on numerous sources, some still unpublished, including family letters, schoolmates' memoirs, and early diaries of his close friend Max Brod. The biography also provides a colorful panorama of Kafka's wider world, especially the convoluted politics and culture of Prague. Before World War I, Kafka lived in a society at the threshold of modernity but torn by conflict, and Stach provides poignant details of how the adolescent Kafka witnessed violent outbreaks of anti-Semitism and nationalism. The reader also learns how he developed a passionate interest in new technologies, particularly movies and airplanes, and why another interest--his predilection for the back-to-nature movement--stemmed from his "nervous" surroundings rather than personal eccentricity. The crowning volume to a masterly biography, this is an unmatched account of how a boy who grew up in an old Central European monarchy became a writer who helped create modern literature.
Reiner Stach worked extensively on the definitive edition of Kafka's collected works before embarking on his three-volume biography of the writer. The other volumes are Kafka: The Decisive Years and Kafka: The Years of Insight (both Princeton). Shelley Frisch's translations of those volumes were awarded the Modern Language Association's Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize and the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize. Her many other translations from the German include Karin Wieland's Dietrich & Riefenstahl, a finalist for the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award.
Translator's Preface ix 1 Nothing Happening in Prague 1 2 The Curtain Rises 7 3 Giants: The Kafkas from Wosek 26 4 Julie Lowy 38 5 Losing Propositions 46 6 Thoughts about Freud 58 7 Kafka, Franz: Model Student 77 8 A City Energized 90 9 Elli, Valli, Ottla 113 10 Latin, Bohemian, Mathematics, and Other Matters of the Heart 122 11 Jewish Lessons 150 12 Innocence and Impudence 171 13 The Path to Freedom 184 14 To Hell with German Studies 204 15 Friend Max 222 16 Enticements 236 17 Informed Circles: Utitz, Weltsch, Fanta, Bergmann 248 18 Autonomy and Recovery 268 19 The Interior Landscape: "Description of a Struggle" 284 2 Doctor of Law Seeking Employment 302 21 Off to the Prostitutes 325 22 Cafes, Geishas, Art, and Cinema 335 23 The Formidable Assistant Offi ial 350 24 The Secret Writing School 370 25 Landing in Brescia 391 26 In the Heart of the West 407 27 Ideas and Spirits: Buber, Steiner, Einstein 420 28 Literature and Tourism 437 Acknowledgments 463 Key to Abbreviations 465 Notes 467 Bibliography 531 Photo Credits 549 Index 551