The Lost Writings
So, you want to leave me? Well, one decision is as good as another. Where will you go? Where is away-from-me? On the moon? Not even that is far enough, and you’ll never get there. So why the fuss? Wouldn’t you rather sit down in a corner somewhere, and be quiet? Wouldn’t that be an improvement? A warm, dark corner? Aren’t you listening? You’re feeling for the door. Well, where is it? So far as I remember, this room doesn’t have one. At the time this was built, no one had imagined such earth-shattering plans as yours. Well, no matter, a thought like yours won’t get lost, we will discuss it over dinner, and our laughter will be your reward.
Unearthed by the master Kafka biographer and scholar Reiner Stach and translated by the peerless Michael Hofmann, this small collection comes as a prize and a joy. Some stories are several pages long; some run about a page; a handful are only a few lines long. Of the seventy-four pieces gathered here, the sixty-one texts gathered in Part One have been lost to English until now, and all are marvels. Even the most fragmentary texts are revelations. These pieces are drawn from two large volumes of the S. Fischer Verlag edition Nachgelassene Schriften und Fragmente (totaling some 1100 pages).
As Stach comments in his afterword: “Franz Kafka is the master of the literary fragment. In no other European author does the proportion of completed and published works loom quite so…small in the overall mass of his papers, which consist largely of broken-off beginnings.”