This delightful collection features dozens of untitled fragments, false starts, and unfinished work by Kafka, found and chosen by biographer Stach…Opening sentences such as “I was allowed to set foot in a strange garden” and “The city resembles the sun,” make the reader’s pulse heighten with the thrill of entering the space of great literature. This offers precisely the kind of fare Kafka enthusiasts would hope for from the legendary writer’s archives.
Publishers Weekly

A windfall for every reader: a trove of marvelous impossible-to-find Kafka stories in a masterful new translation by Michael Hofmann

Available October 6, 2020

The Lost Writings

Fiction

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.

Selected by the preeminent Kafka biographer and scholar Reiner Stach and newly translated by the peerless Michael Hofmann, the seventy-four pieces gathered here have been lost to sight for decades and two of them have never been translated into English before. Some stories are several pages long; some run about a page; a handful are only a few lines long: all are marvels. Even the most fragmentary texts are revelations. These pieces were drawn from two large volumes of the S. Fischer Verlag edition Nachgelassene Schriften und Fragmente (totaling some 1100 pages).

“Franz Kafka is the master of the literary fragment,” as Stach comments in his afterword: “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.” In fact, as Hofmann recently added: “‘Finished’ seems to me, in the context of Kafka, a dubious or ironic condition, anyway. The more finished, the less finished. The less finished, the more finished. Gregor Samsa’s sister Grete getting up to stretch in the streetcar. What kind of an ending is that?! There’s perhaps some distinction to be made between ‘finished’ and ‘ended.’ Everything continues to vibrate or unsettle, anyway. Reiner Stach points out that none of the three novels were ‘completed.’ Some pieces break off, or are concluded, or stop—it doesn’t matter!—after two hundred pages, some after two lines. The gusto, the friendliness, the wit with which Kafka launches himself into these things is astonishing.”

Buy from:

Clothbound (published October 6, 2020)

ISBN
9780811228015
Trim Size
4.5x7.25
Page Count
128

Ebook

ISBN
9780811228022
This delightful collection features dozens of untitled fragments, false starts, and unfinished work by Kafka, found and chosen by biographer Stach…Opening sentences such as “I was allowed to set foot in a strange garden” and “The city resembles the sun,” make the reader’s pulse heighten with the thrill of entering the space of great literature. This offers precisely the kind of fare Kafka enthusiasts would hope for from the legendary writer’s archives.
Publishers Weekly
Kafka is the greatest German writer of our time. Such poets as Rilke or such novelists as Thomas Mann are dwarfs or plaster saints in comparison to him.
—Vladimir Nabokov
I think of a Kafka story as a perfect work of literary art, as approachable as it is strange, and as strange as it is approachable.
—Michael Hofmann