Thursday, September 30, 2021

Franz Kafka: Parables and Paradoxes



Franz Kafka: Metamorphosis (1915)


When I was but thirteen or so
I went into a golden land,
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
Took me by the hand.

- W. J. Turner, "Romance" (1920)
It wasn't quite like that for me. I'd have to rewrite it as follows:
When I was but fourteen or so
I went into a troubled land,
Josef K., Gregor Samsa
Took me by the hand.
That "Romance" poem has always struck me as a bit off, in any case. That idea of the genocidal conquest of the Americas by the Spanish conquistadors acting as a cheap source of thrills for European romantics seems crass, to say the least. Though of course that may be the point that Turner is trying to make:
My father died, my brother too,
They passed like fleeting dreams,
I stood where Popocatapetl
In the sunlight gleams.
Clearly this "great golden dream" is not being endorsed as altogether a good thing.



Franz Kafka: The Castle (1927)


Most people start with The Trial, but in my case it was The Castle which first pulled me into Franz Kafka's sinister and baffling world. I had a mania for being "well-read" in those days, just after advancing to High School. I'd heard the phrase somewhere and was not yet canny enough to know what a fata morgana such an ambition could be. In any case, I read on the back of the Penguin edition pictured above that it was widely considered one of the most important modern novels, so that was enough for me.

Some things in it were immediately recognisable. The idea of being constantly, insidiously thwarted in everything you set out to do: that was familiar enough as a simple description of my everyday life as the last in line of four children - not to mention the youngest in my class at school. Other details of the book's background would not start to resonate with me until I finally visited Prague, many years later. I hadn't realised the extent to which the Castle there literally dominates the whole city.



Boris Stroujko: Prague Castle (1927)


It looks picturesque enough in the tourist photo above, but on a midwinter morning it can seem as grim and threatening as any Transylvanian peak. And of course 'the Castle' has always been shorthand there for the government, just as 'the Beehive' is for us. For a young Jewish man belonging to one of the subject races of the profoundly anti-semitic Austro-Hungarian Empire, seeing it glowering down on you can hardly have been a happy experience.

But there remains something mysterious and unknowable about Kafka's genius. Many writers before and since have expressed themselves in this fable-like, hyper-real manner, but there's a unique gravity and inevitability to the situations he creates. Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, Primo Levi - all have been influenced by Kafka, but none have surpassed him. Stories such as "Metamorphosis," "In the Penal Settlement," or (my favourite) "The Burrow" continue to speak to us more than a century after he wrote them.



Max Brod (1884-1968)


Though the situation isn't really as simple as that. The facts of his life have become, in their own way, as emblematic as his fiction. The story, after all, is a famous one. He died from tuberculosis at the age of 40, and left all his writings, both published and unpublished, to his friend and fellow-writer Max Brod, with the following request:
Dearest Max, my last request: Everything I leave behind me ... in the way of diaries, manuscripts, letters (my own and others'), sketches, and so on, [is] to be burned unread.
It depends on your own point of view on these matters whether it makes him a hero or a villain, but Brod ignored these instructions, and printed not only the three incomplete novels Kafka had been working on for so long, but also a mass of unpublished stories, letters, and other material.



Edwin Muir: An Autobiography (1954)


Posterity could be said to have vindicated Max Brod. Kafka's work has never been out of print from that day to this, and he would make any list of the top ten twentieth-century German writers with ease. Possibly his greatest influence has been exerted abroad, in translation, however.

Kafka had the good fortune to fall into the hands of one of Scotland's finest modern poets, Orkneyman Edwin Muir, and his wife Willa Muir (née Anderson), who gradually translated the three novels - The Castle (1930), The Trial (1937), and America (1938) - as well as most of the canonical stories - The Great Wall of China and Other Pieces (1933), and The Metamorphosis (1935) - into clear and elegant English prose.



There's no doubt that Willa was the superior linguist and the senior partner in the enterprise. Here's her own description of how it went, from her memoir Belonging (1968):
We divided the book in two, Edwin translated one half and I the other, then we went over each other's translations as with a fine-tooth comb.
Elsewhere in her journals, she clarified that he "only helped."

One can't help feeling that something in the lives and backgrounds of these two Scots in exile contributed to their instinctive understanding of Kafka. Though born in Montrose, on the mainland, Willa Anderson's parents were both born in the Shetlands, and she grew up speaking Shetland dialect as well as English.



Edwin, too, born in the Orkney islands, grew up speaking the Orcadian variant of Scots before being forced to move to Glasgow when he was fourteen. All of his work was dominated by this contrast between the 'Eden' of his earliest experiences, and the grimness and despair of life in an industrial slum.

Kafka, too, though Czech by birth, wrote only in literary German. His position as an outsider to the language in which he was forced to express himself can find parallels not only in the experience of the Muirs and other Scots writers, but also in that of Irish writers such as James Joyce and John Synge.



Franz Kafka: The Trial (1925)


It's become rather fashionable to denounce the work of these two pioneers, working (as they did) from inadequate texts, with insufficient information, in favour of the more scholarly efforts of later translators. Here's the first sentence of The Trial in the Muirs' 1937 translation:
Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning.


Franz Kafka: The Trial: Definitive Edition (1956)


What was my surprise, on purchasing the (so-called) 1956 "definitive" edition of the novel, "revised, with additional chapter and notes, by Professor E. M. Butler," to find that this sentence had been recast as follows:
Someone must have traduced Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning.
"Traduced"! Of all the clumsy, latinate words one could possibly have selected! The simple expressiveness of that "telling lies about" is ruined, along with the entire rhythm of the sentence, out of pure pedantry. So much for Professor Butler as a prose stylist ...

But wait a second, you may interject at this point, what did Kafka actually say? The original opening sentence reads as follows:
Jemand Mußte Josef K. verleumdet haben, denn ohne daß er etwas Böses getan hätte, wurde er eines Morgens verhaftet.
A literal translation of this would read more or less as follow:
Somebody must Josef K. have slandered, because without that he anything wicked had done, was he one morning arrested.
Or, in more normal English:
Somebody must have slandered Josef K., because he was arrested one morning without having done anything bad.
Even "slandered" is better than that word "traduced" - but what's wrong with "telling lies about"? It's far more expressive, and brings the whole sentence to life.



The whole subject is discussed at length by Breon Mitchell, whose translation of The Trial was published in 1998. He's worried that both the Muirs and Butler fail to allow for the uncertain nature of that statement of Josef K.'s innocence. Their smoothing out of "getan hätte," a subjunctive tense, in his view renders too absolute the claim that he'd done no wrong. Mitchell's own version reads as follows:
Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.
"Truly wrong"! Not only is this a clumsy expression, but it also swings the pendulum too far in the opposite direction. Now we're being set up to regard Josef K. with a certain suspicion - thus obscuring the generally accepted point of Kafka's book.



Willa Muir: Imagined Corners (1931)


The Muirs were fascinating people, and they were already accomplished writers before turning to translation as a means of making extra income. Both wrote fiction, and memoirs, and they had a clear sense of just how a novel should work. You can't retain all the possible niggles of meaning in your own head, let alone in a phrase from a foreign language, when you're setting the tone for an entire narrative with your opening sentence.

Perhaps Breon Mitchell is right. I'm sure he knows far more about the German subjunctive - and the complex state of Kafka's texts - than I ever will. But he clearly doesn't know much about writing good English prose. His own sentence is clumsy, ill-balanced, and contains too many subordinate clauses. It's more use as a crib than as a translation.

It's interesting, too, how little this quibble over tenses seems to have influenced the other five or six translators who've made their own complete versions of The Trial. Were they all wrong? Or is it just a way of justifying monkeying around further with one of the most famous opening sentences in modern literature?

I'm sure that there are many things that require revision in these early translations, especially given the extra materials which have since been unearthed, and the inexorable succession of newly edited critical editions so beloved of German scholars (each new one requiring a new English translation, naturally).



Edwin Muir: Selected Poems (1965)


But don't criticise Edwin and Willa Muir for a lack of style. They'll run rings around you unless you, too, are in the habit of publishing original literary works on a regular basis. There are things you learn when constructing your own poems and stories which come as a great help when you're trying to make a translated author sound natural and idiomatic in a new linguistic matrix.

At least there's a certain fixity to these three novels, however. There are, unequivocally, three of them. Nor have the 'extra chapters' and 'abandoned drafts' which have been soldered more or less awkwardly into Brod's original versions from time to time altered the main lines of each of the narratives.



Franz Kafka: The Man Who Disappeared (1998)


There have, admittedly, been a few irritating attempts to alter the title of America (or Amerika, if you prefer) to some variation on its alternative name Der Verschollene [The Man Who Disappeared]. This culminated in Michael Hofmann's 1996 translation entitled The Man Who Disappeared (Amerika). Honestly, who cares?

The real issue for completists such as myself is the short stories. Or the sketches and short stories. Or the short stories, sketches, and parables. How many are there? How are they to be defined? Which editions have which of them? Are any of the various collections of them to date actually "complete"? What is a story - in Kafkaesque terms - anyway?

The whole thing started inoccuously enough. In his lifetime Kafka published three small collections of stories - or sketches - or parables. They are as follows (you can find complete, bilingual lists of their contents in the bibliography below):


    Franz Kafka: Betrachtung (1912 [1913])


  1. Betrachtung [Contemplation]. Leipzig: Rowohlt Verlag, 1912 [or, rather, printed at the end of 1912, but with a title page listing it as "1913," hence the use of both dates in different bibliographies]. A collection of 18 stories.


  2. Franz Kafka: Ein Landarzt (1919)


  3. Ein Landarzt [A Country Doctor]. Leipzig: Kurt Wolff, 1919. A collection of 14 stories.


  4. Franz Kafka: Ein Hungerkünstler (1924)


  5. Ein Hungerkünstler [A Hunger Artist]. Leipzig: Verlag Die Schmiede 1924. A collection of four stories, prepared for publication by Kafka, but published a few months after his death.
He also published the following stories, some of his most famous among them, in periodicals here and there:
  1. Das Urteil [The Judgment] (1913)
  2. Die Verwandlung [The Metamorphosis] (1915)
  3. Der Heizer [The Stoker] (1913) [Included in Amerika (1927)]
  4. In der Strafkolonie [In the Penal Colony] (1919)

You can find all of these "authorised" stories collected conveniently in the following volume:



Stories 1904-1924. Trans. J. A. Underwood. Foreword by Jorge Luis Borges. 1981. A Futura Book. London: Macdonald & Co, 1983.

After that, however, things get a bit more complicated. Max Brod found a great many stories among Kafka's papers, some of which he published in the volume Beim Bau der chinesischen Mauer [The Great Wall of China] in 1931. The Muirs translated it in 1933.



Successive attempts to publish the remainder of the stories resulted in a number of overlapping collections in English over the next couple of decades. Here's a selection of the major ones - three in the Secker & Warburg "definitive edition", and three similar but not identical collections in the Penguin Classics:


    Franz Kafka: In the Penal Settlement (1949)


  1. In the Penal Settlement: Tales and Short Prose Works. Definitive Edition. 1935. Trans. Willa & Edwin Muir. London: Secker & Warburg, 1949.


  2. Wedding Preparations in the Country and Other Posthumous Prose Writings: Definitive Edition. 1953. Trans. Ernst Kaiser & Eithne Wilkins. London: Secker & Warburg, 1954.


  3. Description of a Struggle and The Great Wall of China: Definitive Edition. 1933. Trans. Willa & Edwin Muir and Tania & James Stern. 1958. London: Secker & Warburg, 1960.


  4. Franz Kafka: Metamorphosis and Other Stories (1974)


  5. Metamorphosis and Other Stories. Trans. Willa & Edwin Muir. 1933 & 1958. Penguin Modern Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974.


  6. Wedding Preparations in the Country and Other Stories. Trans. Ernst Kaiser & Eithne Wilkins. 1953. Penguin Modern Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978.


  7. Description of a Struggle and Other Stories. Trans. Willa & Edwin Muir, Malcolm Pasley, Tania & James Stern. 1973. Penguin Modern Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979.

Between them, these two sets of three volumes contain virtually everything publishable from Kafka's Nachlaß, or literary remains.

The situation in the USA is quite different, however. There the diffusion of Kafka's short stories is dominated by two books, both compiled and edited by Nahum Glatzer. They are:


    Franz Kafka: Parables and Paradoxes (1961)


  1. Parables and Paradoxes (Parabeln und Paradoxe). Ed. Nahum N. Glatzer. Trans. Clement Greenberg; Ernst Kaiser & Eithne Wilkins; Willa & Edwin Muir; Tania and James Stern. New York: Schocken Books, 1961.


  2. Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories (1971)


  3. The Complete Stories. Ed. Nahum N. Glatzer. New York: Schocken Books, 1971.

Between them, these two books contain virtually everything in Kafka's literary remains which could possibly be regarded as a 'story', including pieces taken from novel drafts, diaries, and other miscellaneous sources.

In the following list (cribbed mainly from the Wikipedia page devoted to Franz Kafka's Bibliography) you can see the inclusiveness of Glatzer's two collections:
    [bold = included in Complete Stories (1971) /
    underlined = included in Parables and Paradoxes (1961)]

  1. Betrachtung [Contemplation] (1912)
    1. Kinder auf der Landstraße [Children on a Country Road]
    2. Die Bäume [The Trees]
    3. Kleider [Clothes]
    4. Der Ausflug ins Gebirge [Excursion into the Mountains]
    5. Die Abweisung [Rejection]
    6. Das Gassenfenster [The Street Window]
    7. Der Kaufmann [The Tradesman]
    8. Zerstreutes Hinausschaun [Absent-minded Window-gazing]
    9. Der Nachhauseweg [The Way Home]
    10. Die Vorüberlaufenden [Passers-by]
    11. Der Fahrgast [On the Tram]
    12. Zum Nachdenken für Herrenreiter [Reflections for Gentlemen-Jockeys]
    13. Wunsch, Indianer zu werden [The Wish to be a Red Indian]
    14. Unglücklichsein [Unhappiness]
    15. Das Unglück des Junggesellen [Bachelor's Ill Luck]
    16. Entlarvung eines Bauernfängers [Unmasking a Confidence Trickster]
    17. Der plötzliche Spaziergang [The Sudden Walk]
    18. Entschlüsse [Resolutions]

  2. Ein Landarzt [A Country Doctor] (1919)
    1. Der neue Advokat [The New Advocate]
    2. Ein Landarzt [A Country Doctor]
    3. Auf der Galerie [Up in the Gallery]
    4. Ein altes Blatt [An Old Manuscript]
    5. Vor dem Gesetz [Before the Law]
    6. Schakale und Araber [Jackals and Arabs]
    7. Ein Besuch im Bergwerk [A Visit to a Mine]
    8. Das nächste Dorf [The Next Village]
    9. Eine kaiserliche Botschaft [A Message from the Emperor]
    10. Die Sorge des Hausvaters [The Cares of a Family Man]
    11. Elf Söhne [Eleven Sons]
    12. Der Mord / Ein Brudermord [A Fratricide]
    13. Ein Traum [A Dream]
    14. Ein Bericht für eine Akademie [A Report to an Academy]

  3. Miscellaneous:
    1. Der Unredliche in seinem Herzen [Shamefaced Lanky and Impure in Heart] (1902) [Included in Letters to Friends, Family & Editors (1959)]
    2. Beschreibung eines Kampfes [Description of a Struggle] (1909)
      1. Gespräch mit dem Beter [Conversation with the Supplicant]
      2. Gespräch mit dem Betrunkenen [Conversation with the Drunk]
    3. Hochzeitsvorbereitungen auf dem Lande [Wedding Preparations in the Country] (1907-1908)
    4. Das Urteil [The Judgment] (1913)
    5. Die Verwandlung [The Metamorphosis] (1915)
    6. Der Heizer [The Stoker] (1913) [In Amerika (1927)]
    7. In der Strafkolonie [In the Penal Colony] (1919)
    8. Der Dorfschullehrer / Der Riesenmaulwurf [The Village Schoolmaster / The Giant Mole] (1915)
    9. Blumfeld, ein älterer Junggeselle [Blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelor] (1913)
    10. Der Gruftwächter [The Warden of the Tomb] (1916-17)
    11. Der Jäger Gracchus [The Hunter Gracchus] (1917)
    12. Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer [The Great Wall of China] (1917)
    13. Die Abweisung [The Refusal] (1920)
    14. Ein Hungerkünstler [A Hunger Artist] (1922)
    15. Forschungen eines Hundes [Investigations of a Dog] (1922)
    16. Eine kleine Frau [A Little Woman] (1924)
    17. Der Bau [The Burrow] (1931)
    18. Josefine, die Sängerin oder Das Volk der Mäuse [Josephine the Singer, or The Mouse Folk] (1924)
    19. Die Brücke [The Bridge]
    20. Der Kübelreiter [The Bucket Rider] (1917)
    21. Der Schlag ans Hoftor [The Knock at the Manor Gate]
    22. Der Nachbar [My Neighbour] (1917)
    23. Eine Kreuzung [A Crossbreed]
    24. Eine alltägliche Verwirrung [A Common Confusion]
    25. Die Wahrheit über Sancho Pansa [The Truth about Sancho Panza]
    26. Das Schweigen der Sirenen [The Silence of the Sirens]
    27. Prometheus [Prometheus] (1917-23)
    28. Das Stadtwappen [The City Coat of Arms]
    29. Poseidon [Poseidon] (1920)
    30. Gemeinschaft [Fellowship]
    31. Nachts [At Night]
    32. Zur Frage der Gesetze [The Problem of Our Laws]
    33. Die Truppenaushebung [The Conscription of Troops]
    34. Die Prüfung [The Test]
    35. Der Geier [The Vulture]
    36. Der Steuermann [The Helmsman]
    37. Der Kreisel [The Top]
    38. Kleine Fabel [A Little Fable]
    39. Heimkehr [Home-Coming]
    40. Erstes Leid [First Sorrow] (1921-22)
    41. Der Aufbruch [The Departure] (1920-21)
    42. Fürsprecher [Advocates] (1922)
    43. Das Ehepaar [The Married Couple] (1922)
    44. Gibs auf! [Give It Up!]
    45. Von den Gleichnissen [On Parables]
    46. Der Kaiser von Peking [Peking and the Emperor]
    47. Die Chinesische Mauer und der Turmbau von Babel [The Great Wall and the Tower of Babel]
    48. Das Paradies [Paradise]
    49. Der Turm zu Babel [The Tower of Babel]
    50. Der Schacht von Babel [The Pit of Babel]
    51. Abraham [Abraham]
    52. Der Berg Sinai [Mount Sinai]
    53. Der Tempelbau [The Building of the Temple]
    54. Das Tier in der Synagoge [The Animal in the Synagogue]
    55. Der Wächter [The Watchman]
    56. Das Kommen des Messias [The Coming of the Messiah]
    57. Die Sirenen [The Sirens]
    58. Leoparden in Tempel [Leopards in the Temple]
    59. Alexander der Grosse [Alexander the Great]
    60. Diogenes [Diogenes]
    61. Der Bau einer Stadt [The Building of a City]
    62. Der Kaiserliche Oberst [The Imperial Colonel]
    63. Der Kaiser [The Emperor]
    64. In der Karawanserei [In the Caravansary]
    65. Die Zelle [The Cell]
    66. Die Erfindung des Teufels [The Invention of the Devil]
    67. Die Wilden [The Savages]
    68. Der Grüne Drache [The Green Dragon]
    69. Der Tiger [The Tiger]
    70. Kuriere [Couriers]
    71. Ein Geduldspiel [A Chinese Puzzle]
    72. Robinson Crusoe [Robinson Crusoe]
    73. Die Quelle [The Spring]
    74. Die Unersättlichsten [The Hunger Strike]
    75. Das Ziel [My Destination]



  4. Franz Kafka: The Lost Writings, trans. Michael Hofmann (2020)


    No doubt volumes such as the above - with its tantalising promise of "seventy-four pieces ... lost to sight for decades ... two of them [never] translated into English before," will continue to appear.

    However, if you just want to read Kafka but have been unsure where to start - and you should: Kafka's shorter work is a revelation! - I'd advise either trying to obtain the two Nahum Glatzer edited collections mentioned above, or else the three readily available Penguin Classics compilations.

    Unless you're lucky enough to be able to read German, that is, in which case you could probably content yourself with this:



    Franz Kafka: Sämtliche Erzählungen (1970)






    Franz Kafka (1923)

    Franz Kafka
    (1883-1924)


      Novels:

    1. The Trial. ['Der Prozess', 1925]. Trans. Willa and Edwin Muir (1937). In The Trial / America / The Castle / Metamorphosis / In the Penal Settlement / The Great Wall of China / Investigations of a Dog / Letter to His Father / The Diaries 1910-1923. Trans. Willa & Edwin Muir et al. London: Secker & Warburg / Octopus, 1976.
      • The Trial: Definitive Edition. 1925. Trans. Willa & Edwin Muir. 1937. Rev. E. M. Butler. 1956. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963.
      • The Trial. 1925. Trans. Douglas Scott & Chris Waller. Introduction by J. P. Stern. 1977. London: Picador, 1980.

    2. The Castle. ['Das Schloss', 1926]. Trans. Willa and Edwin Muir (1930). In The Trial / America / The Castle / Metamorphosis / In the Penal Settlement / The Great Wall of China / Investigations of a Dog / Letter to His Father / The Diaries 1910-1923. Trans. Willa & Edwin Muir et al. London: Secker & Warburg / Octopus, 1976.
      • The Castle: Definitive Edition. 1926. Trans. Willa & Edwin Muir. 1930. Rev. Eithne Wilkins & Ernst Kaiser. 1953. London: Secker & Warburg, 1961.

    3. America. ['Amerika oder Der Verschollene', 1927]. Trans. Willa and Edwin Muir (1938). In The Trial / America / The Castle / Metamorphosis / In the Penal Settlement / The Great Wall of China / Investigations of a Dog / Letter to His Father / The Diaries 1910-1923. Trans. Willa & Edwin Muir et al. London: Secker & Warburg / Octopus, 1976.
      • Amerika: Roman. 1935. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1985.
      • America: Definitive Edition. 1927. Trans. Willa & Edwin Muir. 1938. Rev. ed. London: Secker & Warburg, 1949.
      • The Man Who Disappeared (Amerika). 1927. Trans. Michael Hofmann. Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1996.

    4. Collections:

    5. Sämtliche Erzählungen. Ed. Paul Raabe. 1970. Hamburg: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1983.
        I. Die vom Autor veröffentlichten Bücher
      1. Betrachtung (1913)
        1. Kinder auf der Landstraße
        2. Entlarvung eines Bauernfängers
        3. Der plötzliche Spaziergang
        4. Entschlüsse
        5. Der Ausflug ins Gebirge
        6. Das Unglück des Junggesellen
        7. Der Kaufmann
        8. Zerstreutes Hinausschaun
        9. Der Nachhauseweg
        10. Die Vorüberlaufenden
        11. Der Fahrgast
        12. Kleider
        13. Die Abweisung
        14. Zum Nachdenken für Herrenreiter
        15. Das Gassenfenster
        16. Wunsch, Indianer zu werden
        17. Die Bäume
        18. Unglücklichsein
      2. Das Urteil (1913)
      3. Der Heizer (1913)
      4. Die Verwandlung (1915)
      5. In der Strafkolonie (1919)
      6. Ein Landarzt (1919)
        1. Der neue Advokat
        2. Ein Landarzt
        3. Auf der Galerie
        4. Ein altes Blatt
        5. Vor dem Gesetz
        6. Schakale und Araber
        7. Ein Besuch im Bergwerk
        8. Das nächste Dorf
        9. Eine kaiserliche Botschaft
        10. Die Sorge des Hausvaters
        11. Elf Söhne
        12. Ein Brudermord
        13. Ein Traum
        14. Ein Bericht für eine Akademie
      7. Ein Hungerkünstler (1924)
        1. Erstes Leid
        2. Eine kleine Frau
        3. Ein Hungerkünstler
        4. Josefine, die Sängerin oder Das Volk der Mäuse
      8. II. Zerstreut veröffentlichte, nicht von Kafka in Bücher aufgenommene Erzählungen
      9. Gespräch mit dem Beter
      10. Gespräch mit dem Betrunkenen
      11. Großer Lärm
      12. Der Kübelreiter
      13. III. Die Erzählungen aus dem Nachlaß
      14. Beschreibung eines Kampfes
      15. Hochzeitsvorbereitungen auf dem Lande
      16. Der Dorfschullehrer
      17. Blumfeld, ein älterer Junggeselle
      18. Die Brücke
      19. Der Jäger Gracchus
      20. Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer
      21. Der Schlag ans Hoftor
      22. Der Nachbar
      23. Eine Kreuzung
      24. Eine alltägliche Verwirrung
      25. Die Wahrheit über Sancho Pansa
      26. Das Schweigen der Sirenen
      27. Prometheus
      28. Das Stadtwappen
      29. Poseidon
      30. Gemeinschaft
      31. Nachts
      32. Die Abweisung
      33. Zur Frage der Gesetze
      34. Die Truppenaushebung
      35. Die Prüfung
      36. Der Geier
      37. Der Steuermann
      38. Der Kreisel
      39. Kleine Fabel
      40. Heimkehr
      41. Der Aufbruch
      42. Fürsprecher
      43. Forschungen eines Hundes
      44. Das Ehepaar
      45. Gibs auf!
      46. Von den Gleichnissen
      47. Der Bau

    6. The Great Wall of China and Other Pieces. Trans. Willa & Edwin Muir. 1933. Rev. ed. London: Secker & Warburg, 1946.
        Longer Stories:
      1. Investigations of a Dog [Forschungen eines Hundes]
      2. The Burrow [Der Bau]
      3. The Great Wall of China [Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer]
      4. The Giant Mole [Der Riesenmaulwurf]
      5. Shorter Stories and Fables:
      6. The Hunter Gracchus [Der Jäger Gracchus]
      7. The Married Couple [Das Ehepaar]
      8. My Neighbour [Der Nachbar]
      9. A Common Confusion [Eine alltägliche Verwirrung]
      10. The Bridge [Die Brücke]
      11. The Bucket Rider [Der Kübelreiter]
      12. A Crossbreed [Eine Kreuzung]
      13. The Knock at the Manor Gate [Der Schlag ans Hoftor]
      14. The City Coat of Arms [Das Stadtwappen]
      15. The Silence of the Sirens [Das Schweigen der Sirenen]
      16. Prometheus [Prometheus]
      17. The Truth about Sancho Panza [Die Wahrheit über Sancho Pansa]
      18. The Problem of Our Laws [Zur Frage der Gesetze]
      19. On Parables [Von den Gleichnissen]
      20. A Little Fable [Kleine Fabel]
      21. Aphorisms:
      22. "He"
      23. Reflections on Sin, Pain, Hope and the True Way [Betrachtungen über Sünde, Hoffnung, Leid und den wahren Weg]

    7. The Metamorphosis / Die Verwandlung. 1935. Trans. Willa & Edwin Muir. 1968. New York: Schocken Books, 1974.

    8. In the Penal Settlement: Tales and Short Prose Works. Definitive Edition. 1935. Trans. Willa & Edwin Muir. London: Secker & Warburg, 1949.
      1. Two Dialogues (From a work later destroyed: 'Description of a Struggle' [Beschreibung eines Kampfes])
        1. Conversation with the Suppliant [Gespräch mit dem Beter]
        2. Conversation with the Drunken Man [Gespräch mit dem Betrunkenen]
      2. Meditation [Betrachtung]
        1. Children on a Country Road [Kinder auf der Landstraße]
        2. Unmasking a Confidence Trickster [Entlarvung eines Bauernfängers]
        3. The Sudden Walk [Der plötzliche Spaziergang]
        4. Resolutions [Entschlüsse]
        5. Excursion into the Mountains [Der Ausflug ins Gebirge]
        6. Bachelor's Ill Luck [Das Unglück des Junggesellen]
        7. The Tradesman [Der Kaufmann]
        8. Absent-minded Window-gazing [Zerstreutes Hinausschaun]
        9. The Way Home [Der Nachhauseweg]
        10. Passers-by [Die Vorüberlaufenden]
        11. On the Tram [Der Fahrgast]
        12. Clothes [Kleider]
        13. Rejection [Die Abweisung]
        14. Reflections for Gentlemen Jockeys [Zum Nachdenken für Herrenreiter]
        15. The Street Window [Das Gassenfenster]
        16. The Wish to be a Red Indian [Wunsch, Indianer zu werden]
        17. The Trees [Die Bäume]
        18. Unhappiness [Unglücklichsein]
      3. The Judgement [Das Urteil]
      4. The Transformation [Die Verwandlung]
      5. A Country Doctor [Ein Landarzt]
        1. The New Advocate [Der neue Advokat]
        2. A Country Doctor [Ein Landarzt]
        3. Up in the Gallery [Auf der Galerie]
        4. An Old Manuscript [Ein altes Blatt]
        5. Before the Law [Vor dem Gesetz]
        6. Jackals and Arabs [Schakale und Araber]
        7. A Visit to a Mine [Ein Besuch im Bergwerk]
        8. The Next Village [Das nächste Dorf]
        9. A Message from the Emperor [Eine kaiserliche Botschaft]
        10. Troubles of a Householder [Die Sorge des Hausvaters]
        11. Eleven Sons [Elf Söhne]
        12. A Brother's Murder [Ein Brudermord]
        13. A Dream [Ein Traum]
        14. A Report to an Academy [Ein Bericht für eine Akademie]
      6. In the Penal Settlement [In der Strafkolonie]
      7. A Hunger Artist [Ein Hungerkünstler]
        1. First Sorrow [Erstes Leid]
        2. A Little Woman [Eine kleine Frau]
        3. A Fasting Showman [Ein Hungerkünstler]
        4. Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse-folk [Josefine, die Sängerin oder Das Volk der Mäuse]
      8. Appendix:
      9. First Chapter of the Book Richard and Samuel, by Max Brod and Franz Kafka
        1. Foreword [Vorwort]
        2. The First Long Train Journey [Die erste lange Eisenbahnfahrt]
      10. Epilogue (Publisher's Note)

    9. Wedding Preparations in the Country and Other Posthumous Prose Writings: Definitive Edition. 1953. Trans. Ernst Kaiser & Eithne Wilkins. London: Secker & Warburg, 1954.
      1. Wedding Preparations in the Country [Hochzeitsvorbereitungen auf dem Lande]
      2. Reflections on Sin, Pain, Hope and the True Way [Betrachtungen über Sünde, Hoffnung, Leid und den wahren Weg]
      3. The Eight Octavo Notebooks [Oxforder Oktavhefte]
      4. Letter to His Father [Brief an den Vater]
      5. Fragments from Note-books and Loose Pages
      6. Paralipomena

    10. Description of a Struggle and The Great Wall of China: Definitive Edition. 1933. Trans. Willa & Edwin Muir and Tania & James Stern. 1958. London: Secker & Warburg, 1960.
      1. Introduction by Edwin Muir to The Great Wall of China
      2. Description of a Struggle [Beschreibung eines Kampfes]
      3. The Great Wall of China [Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer]
      4. The Refusal [Die Abweisung]
      5. The Problem of Our Laws [Zur Frage der Gesetze]
      6. The City Coat of Arms [Das Stadtwappen]
      7. On Parables [Von den Gleichnissen]
      8. Poseidon [Poseidon]
      9. The Hunter Gracchus [Der Jäger Gracchus]
      10. The Knock at the Manor Gate [Der Schlag ans Hoftor]
      11. A Crossbreed [Eine Kreuzung]
      12. The Bridge [Die Brücke]
      13. The Vulture [Der Geier]
      14. The Departure [Der Aufbruch]
      15. Give it Up! [Gibs auf!]
      16. At Night [Nachts]
      17. The Helmsman [Der Steuermann]
      18. The Top [Der Kreisel]
      19. A Little Fable [Kleine Fabel]
      20. The Bucket Rider [Der Kübelreiter]
      21. The Married Couple [Das Ehepaar]
      22. My Neighbour [Der Nachbar]
      23. The Test [Die Prüfung]
      24. Advocates [Fürsprecher]
      25. Home-coming [Heimkehr]
      26. Fellowship [Gemeinschaft]
      27. Blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelor [Blumfeld, ein älterer Junggeselle]
      28. The Burrow [Der Bau]
      29. The Giant Mole [Der Riesenmaulwurf]
      30. Investigations of a Dog [Forschungen eines Hundes]
      31. "He"
      32. The Warden of the Tomb [Der Gruftwächter]
      33. Fragments of 'A Report to an Academy' [Ein Bericht für eine Akademie]
      34. Fragment of 'The Great Wall of China' [Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer]
      35. The Conscription of Troops [Die Truppenaushebung]
      36. Fragment of 'The Hunter Gracchus' [Der Jäger Gracchus]
      37. Postscript by Max Brod to the German Edition

    11. Metamorphosis and Other Stories. Trans. Willa & Edwin Muir. 1933 & 1958. Penguin Modern Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974.
      1. Metamorphosis [Die Verwandlung]
      2. The Great Wall of China [Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer]
      3. Investigations of a Dog [Forschungen eines Hundes]
      4. The Burrow [Der Bau]
      5. In the Penal Settlement [In der Strafkolonie]
      6. The Giant Mole [Der Riesenmaulwurf]

    12. Wedding Preparations in the Country and Other Stories. Trans. Ernst Kaiser & Eithne Wilkins. 1953. Penguin Modern Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978.
      1. Wedding Preparations in the Country [Hochzeitsvorbereitungen auf dem Lande]
      2. Letter to His Father [Brief an den Vater]
      3. Two Dialogues (From a work later destroyed: 'Description of a Struggle' [Beschreibung eines Kampfes])
        1. Conversation with the Suppliant [Gespräch mit dem Beter]
        2. Conversation with the Drunken Man [Gespräch mit dem Betrunkenen]
      4. Meditation [Betrachtung]
        1. Children on a Country Road [Kinder auf der Landstraße]
        2. Unmasking a Confidence Trickster [Entlarvung eines Bauernfängers]
        3. The Sudden Walk [Der plötzliche Spaziergang]
        4. Resolutions [Entschlüsse]
        5. Excursion into the Mountains [Der Ausflug ins Gebirge]
        6. Bachelor's Ill Luck [Das Unglück des Junggesellen]
        7. The Tradesman [Der Kaufmann]
        8. Absent-minded Window-gazing [Zerstreutes Hinausschaun]
        9. The Way Home [Der Nachhauseweg]
        10. Passers-by [Die Vorüberlaufenden]
        11. On the Tram [Der Fahrgast]
        12. Clothes [Kleider]
        13. Rejection [Die Abweisung]
        14. Reflections for Gentlemen Jockeys [Zum Nachdenken für Herrenreiter]
        15. The Street Window [Das Gassenfenster]
        16. The Wish to be a Red Indian [Wunsch, Indianer zu werden]
        17. The Trees [Die Bäume]
        18. Unhappiness [Unglücklichsein]
      5. The Judgement [Das Urteil]
      6. A Country Doctor [Ein Landarzt]
        1. The New Advocate [Der neue Advokat]
        2. A Country Doctor [Ein Landarzt]
        3. Up in the Gallery [Auf der Galerie]
        4. An Old Manuscript [Ein altes Blatt]
        5. Before the Law [Vor dem Gesetz]
        6. Jackals and Arabs [Schakale und Araber]
        7. A Visit to a Mine [Ein Besuch im Bergwerk]
        8. The Next Village [Das nächste Dorf]
        9. A Message from the Emperor [Eine kaiserliche Botschaft]
        10. Troubles of a Householder [Die Sorge des Hausvaters]
        11. Eleven Sons [Elf Söhne]
        12. A Brother's Murder [Ein Brudermord]
        13. A Dream [Ein Traum]
        14. A Report to an Academy [Ein Bericht für eine Akademie]
      7. A Hunger Artist [Ein Hungerkünstler]
        1. First Sorrow [Erstes Leid]
        2. A Little Woman [Eine kleine Frau]
        3. A Fasting Showman [Ein Hungerkünstler]
        4. Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse-folk [Josefine, die Sängerin oder Das Volk der Mäuse]

    13. Description of a Struggle and Other Stories. Trans. Willa & Edwin Muir, Malcolm Pasley, Tania & James Stern. 1973. Penguin Modern Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979.
      1. Description of a Struggle [Beschreibung eines Kampfes]
      2. Blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelor [Blumfeld, ein älterer Junggeselle]
      3. The Warden of the Tomb [Der Gruftwächter]
      4. The Bridge [Die Brücke]
      5. The Hunter Gracchus [Der Jäger Gracchus]
      6. Fragments of 'A Report to an Academy' [Ein Bericht für eine Akademie]
      7. The Bucket Rider [Der Kübelreiter]
      8. The Knock at the Manor Gate [Der Schlag ans Hoftor]
      9. My Neighbour [Der Nachbar]
      10. A Crossbreed [Eine Kreuzung]
      11. An Everyday Occurrence [Eine alltägliche Verwirrung]
      12. The Truth about Sancho Panza [Die Wahrheit über Sancho Pansa]
      13. The Silence of the Sirens [Das Schweigen der Sirenen]
      14. Prometheus [Prometheus]
      15. The City Coat of Arms [Das Stadtwappen]
      16. Poseidon [Poseidon]
      17. Fellowship [Gemeinschaft]
      18. At Night [Nachts]
      19. The Refusal [Die Abweisung]
      20. The Problem of Our Laws [Zur Frage der Gesetze]
      21. The Conscription of Troops [Die Truppenaushebung]
      22. The Test [Die Prüfung]
      23. The Vulture [Der Geier]
      24. The Helmsman [Der Steuermann]
      25. The Top [Der Kreisel]
      26. A Little Fable [Kleine Fabel]
      27. Homecoming [Heimkehr]
      28. The Departure [Der Aufbruch]
      29. Advocates [Fürsprecher]
      30. The Married Couple [Das Ehepaar]
      31. A Comment [Gibs auf!]
      32. On Parables [Von den Gleichnissen]

    14. Parables and Paradoxes (Parabeln und Paradoxe). Trans. Clement Greenberg; Ernst Kaiser & Eithne Wilkins; Willa & Edwin Muir; Tania and James Stern . Ed. Nahum N. Glatzer. New York: Schocken Books, 1961.
      1. On Parables
      2. I
      3. An Imperial Message
      4. Peking and the Emperor
      5. The News of the Building of the Wall: a Fragment
      6. The Great wall and the Tower of Babel
      7. II
      8. Paradise
      9. The Tower of Babel
      10. The Pit of Babel
      11. The City Coat of Arms
      12. Abraham
      13. Mount Sinai
      14. The Building of the Temple
      15. The Animal in the Synagogue
      16. Before the Law
      17. The Watchman
      18. The Coming of the Messiah
      19. III
      20. Prometheus
      21. Poseidon
      22. The Silence of the Sirens
      23. The Sirens
      24. Leopards in the Temple
      25. Alexander the Great
      26. Diogenes
      27. The New Attorney
      28. IV
      29. The Building of a City
      30. The Imperial Colonel
      31. The Emperor
      32. In the Caravansary
      33. The Cell
      34. The Invention of the Devil
      35. The Savages
      36. The Hunter Gracchus + Fragment
      37. The Vulture
      38. The Green Dragon
      39. The Tiger
      40. The Problem of Our Laws
      41. The Refusal
      42. Couriers
      43. A Chinese Puzzle
      44. The Truth about Sancho Panza
      45. The Test
      46. Robinson Crusoe
      47. The Spring
      48. The Hunger Strike
      49. My Destination

    15. The Complete Stories. Ed. Nahum N. Glatzer. 1971. New York: Schocken Books, 1976.
        Two Introductory Parables:
      1. Before the Law [from The Trial]
      2. An Imperial Message [from "The Great Wall of China"]
      3. The Longer Stories:
      4. Description of a Struggle
      5. Wedding Preparations in the Country
      6. The Judgment
      7. The Metamorphosis
      8. In the Penal Colony
      9. The Village Schoolmaster (The Giant Mole)
      10. Blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelor
      11. The Warden of the Tomb
      12. A Country Doctor
      13. The Hunter Gracchus + fragment
      14. The Great Wall of China + fragment
      15. A Report to an Academy + two fragments
      16. The Refusal
      17. A Hunger Artist
      18. Investigations of a Dog
      19. A Little Woman
      20. The Burrow
      21. Josephine the Singer, or The Mouse Folk
      22. The Shorter Stories:
      23. Children on a Country Road
      24. The Trees
      25. Clothes
      26. Excursion into the Mountains
      27. The Rejection
      28. The Street Window
      29. The Tradesman
      30. Absent-minded Window-gazing
      31. The Way Home
      32. Passers-by
      33. On the Tram
      34. Reflections for Gentlemen-Jockeys
      35. The Wish to be a Red Indian
      36. Unhappiness
      37. Bachelor's Ill Luck
      38. Unmasking a Confidence Trickster
      39. The Sudden Walk
      40. Resolutions
      41. A Dream
      42. Up in the Gallery
      43. A Fratricide
      44. The Next Village
      45. A Visit to a Mine
      46. Jackals and Arabs
      47. The Bridge
      48. The Bucket Rider
      49. The New Advocate
      50. An Old Manuscript
      51. The Knock at the Manor Gate
      52. Eleven Sons
      53. My Neighbor
      54. A Crossbreed
      55. The Cares of a Family Man
      56. A Common Confusion
      57. The Truth about Sancho Panza
      58. The Silence of the Sirens
      59. Prometheus
      60. The City Coat of Arms
      61. Poseidon
      62. Fellowship
      63. At Night
      64. The Problem of Our Laws
      65. The Conscription of Troops
      66. The Test
      67. The Vulture
      68. The Helmsman
      69. The Top
      70. A Little Fable
      71. Home-Coming
      72. First Sorrow
      73. The Departure
      74. Advocates
      75. The Married Couple
      76. Give it Up!
      77. On Parables
      78. Postscript, by Nahum N. Glatzer

    16. Stories 1904-1924. Trans. J. A. Underwood. Foreword by Jorge Luis Borges. 1981. A Futura Book. London: Macdonald & Co, 1983.
      1. Looking to See [Betrachtung]
        1. Children in the lane [Kinder auf der Landstraße]
        2. Unmasking a confidence trickster [Entlarvung eines Bauernfängers]
        3. The spur-of-the-moment stroll [Der plötzliche Spaziergang]
        4. Decisions [Entschlüsse]
        5. The excursion into the mountains [Der Ausflug ins Gebirge]
        6. The bachelor's lot [Das Unglück des Junggesellen]
        7. The businessman [Der Kaufmann]
        8. Wool-gathering at the window [Zerstreutes Hinausschaun]
        9. The way home [Der Nachhauseweg]
        10. Passers-by [Die Vorüberlaufenden]
        11. The passenger [Der Fahrgast]
        12. Dresses [Kleider]
        13. The rebuff [Die Abweisung]
        14. For jockeys to ponder [Zum Nachdenken für Herrenreiter]
        15. The window on the street [Das Gassenfenster]
        16. Wanting to be a Red Indian [Wunsch, Indianer zu werden]
        17. The trees [Die Bäume]
        18. Unhappiness [Unglücklichsein]
      2. The Judgement [Das Urteil]
      3. The Stoker [Der Heizer]
      4. The Metamorphosis [Die Verwandlung]
      5. In the Penal Colony [In der Strafkolonie]
      6. A Country Doctor [Ein Landarzt]
        1. The new attorney [Der neue Advokat]
        2. A country doctor [Ein Landarzt]
        3. In the gallery [Auf der Galerie]
        4. A leaf from the past [Ein altes Blatt]
        5. At the door of the law [Vor dem Gesetz]
        6. Jackals and Arabs [Schakale und Araber]
        7. A mine visit [Ein Besuch im Bergwerk]
        8. The next village [Das nächste Dorf]
        9. A message from the emperor [Eine kaiserliche Botschaft]
        10. The householder's concern [Die Sorge des Hausvaters]
        11. Eleven sons [Elf Söhne]
        12. A case of fratricide [Ein Brudermord]
        13. A dream [Ein Traum]
        14. A report for an academy [Ein Bericht für eine Akademie]
      7. A Fasting-Artist [Ein Hungerkünstler]
        1. First sorrow [Erstes Leid]
        2. A little woman [Eine kleine Frau]
        3. A fasting-artist [Ein Hungerkünstler]
        4. Josephine the singer, or The mouse people [Josefine, die Sängerin oder Das Volk der Mäuse]

    17. Abandoned Fragments: The Unedited Works of Franz Kafka, 1897-1917. ["Nachgelassene Schriften und Fragmente", Vol. 1 of 2, 1992]. Trans. Ida Pfitzner. USA: Sun Vision Press, 2012.

    18. Investigations of a Dog & Other Creatures. Trans. Michael Hofmann. New York: New Directions Press, 2017.

    19. The Lost Writings. ["Nachgelassene Schriften und Fragmente", 2 vols, 1992-93]. Ed. Reiner Stach. Trans. Michael Hoffman. A New Directions Paperbook. New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2020.

    20. Essays:

    21. Die Aeroplane in Brescia [The Aeroplanes At Brescia] (1909)
    22. [with Max Brod] Die erste lange Eisenbahnfahrt [The First Long Train Journey] (1912)
    23. Eine entschlafene Zeitschrift [Review of Hyperion]
    24. Ein Roman der Jugend: Felix Sternheim, Die Geschichte des jungen Oswald [Review of A Novel about Youth]
    25. Über Kleist's Anekdoten [On Kleist's "Anecdotes"]

    26. Franz Kafka: The Office Writings. Ed. & Trans. Eric Patton & Ruth Hein. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008.

    27. Diaries:

    28. "Reflections on Sin, Pain, Hope and the True Way." ['Die Zürauer Aphorismen' oder 'Betrachtungen über Sünde, Hoffnung, Leid und den wahren Weg', 1931]. In The Great Wall of China and Other Pieces. Trans. Willa & Edwin Muir. 1933. Rev. ed. London: Secker & Warburg, 1946. 142-59.
      • The Zürau Aphorisms. Ed. Roberto Calasso. London: Harvill Secker, 2014.

    29. The Diaries of Franz Kafka: 1910-23. ['Tagebücher 1910–1923', ed. Max Brod, 1948]. Trans. Joseph Kresh and Martin Greenberg with Hannah Arendt. 2 vols. 1948 & 1949. Peregrine Books. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1964.

    30. "The Eight Octavo Notebooks." ['Oxforder Oktavhefte', 1953]. In Wedding Preparations in the Country and Other Posthumous Prose Writings: Definitive Edition. 1953. Trans. Ernst Kaiser & Eithne Wilkins. London: Secker & Warburg, 1954. 54-156.

    31. Letters:

    32. Letters to Milena. ['Briefe an Milena', ed. Willy Haas, 1952]. Trans. Tania & James Stern. 1953. London: Corgi Books, 1967.

    33. Letter to His Father. ['Brief an den Vater', 1953]. Trans. Ernst Kaiser & Eithne Wilkins (1954). In Wedding Preparations in the Country and Other Posthumous Prose Writings: Definitive Edition. 1953. Trans. Ernst Kaiser & Eithne Wilkins. London: Secker & Warburg, 1954. 157-217.

    34. Letters to Friends, Family and Editors. ['Briefe 1902–1924', 1959]. Trans. Richard & Clara Winston. 1977. Richmond, Surrey: Alma Classics Ltd., 2014.

    35. Letters to Felice. ['Briefe an Felice und andere Korrespondenz aus der Verlobungszeit, ed. Erich Heller & Jürgen Born, 1967]. Trans. James Stern & Elizabeth Duckworth. 1973. With Elias Canetti: Kafka’s Other Trial. 1969. Trans. Christopher Middleton. 1974. Penguin Modern Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978.

    36. Letters to Ottla and the Family. ['Briefe an Ottla und die Familie', 1974]. Trans. Robert Boettcher (1982)

    37. Secondary:

    38. Brod, Max. Franz Kafka: A Biography. 1937. Trans. G. Humphreys Roberts. 1947. Rev. Richard Winston. 1960. New York: Schocken Books, 1973.

    39. Janousch, Gustav. Conversations with Kafka. 1953. Rev. ed. 1968. Trans. Goronwy Rees. New York: New Directions, 1971.

    40. Hayman, Ronald. K: A Biography Of Kafka. 1981. An Abacus Book. London: Sphere Books, 1983.

    41. Pawel, Ernst. The Nightmare of Reason: A Life of Franz Kafka. 1984. London: Collins Harvill, 1988.

    42. Calasso, Roberto. K. 2002. Trans. Geoffrey Brock. Jonathan Cape. London: Random House, 2005.




Sunday, September 12, 2021

A Mann for All Seasons: The Magic Mountain



Hans W. Geissendörfer, dir: Der Zauberberg (1982)
[based on the novel by Thomas Mann]


As we move into the fourth week of our fourth COVID-19 lockdown up here in Auckland (still stuck at level 4, though the rest of the country has managed to escape into the relative comfort of level 2), I have to confess that I've been beguiling my enforced leisure rereading Thomas Mann's classic novel of sanatorium life, The Magic Mountain (1924).



Thomas Mann: Der Zauberberg (1924)


This is the third time I've read it. The first time (after a couple of false starts) was when I was still a teenager. I responded immediately to Mann's brilliant evocation of atmosphere in the opening couple of chapters, as his hapless hero Hans Castorp gradually succumbs to the charms of invalid life in the Swiss Alps.

After that, however, it got a bit more difficult. Each chapter was longer than the one before (no doubt by careful design on the part of the author), and the mass of detail about each of the characters and all of the footling ways they find to kill time up there in the rarefied, TB-intolerant air of the mountains, did rather drag at times.

Overall, though, I did feel a sense of achievement when I got to the finish - signalled, appropriately enough, by the outbreak of World War I. Nor was I blind to the allegorical significance of all of this elaborate life-avoidance given some of my other reading around the subject. It's the one thing everyone knows about The Magic Mountain, in fact - its function as a microcosm of the 'sick' society of pre-war Europe.



Thomas Mann: The Magic Mountain, trans. Helen T. Lowe-Porter (1927)


Twenty-five or so years later I read it again. The occasion was my finding a second-hand copy which included the author's late postscript to the novel. I was anxious to see just what he thought it was about, but - being a completist by nature - I thought it necessary to plough right through the whole thing again, all 700-odd pages of it.

The result was, I must admit, a little disappointing: even the charm of those early chapters seemed to have evaporated, leaving only a vast talky expanse of fairly obvious symbolism. The crucial chapter 'Snow', where Hans Castorp, caught in a snowstorm, has a vision of the ideal life (or is it? He wakes up abruptly just as it's shifting into nightmare), fell particularly flat for me at that point.



Gore Verbinski, dir.: A Cure for Wellness (2017)
['inspired' by Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain]


I'm happy to report that that has not been the case this time round. Maybe it helps to be in the middle of a huge, collective, world-wide feverdream. The old attraction was back, though whether I'll ever feel inspired to take the long road to the Bergdorf again remains to be seen.

In particular, I was struck by Mann's plaintive appeal, in his late Postscript to the novel, that readers should reserve judgement until they've read it through twice. I must be unusually dumb, because it took me three readings - I do now, however, feel as if I have some kind of a fist on just what he had in mind.






Thomas Mann: Joseph and His Brothers (1978)


That's not to say that this was the whole extent of my reading of Thomas Mann. I had quite a taste for what were then regarded as modern German writers in my teens, and read Franz Kafka (first), Herman Hesse (second), and finally Thomas Mann in as much depth as I was able, given the translations available at the time.

In particular I read all four of Mann's great novels - Buddenbrooks (1901), The Magic Mountain (1924), Joseph and His Brothers (1933-43), and Doctor Faustus (1947). I also read the four shorter, 'interstitial' novels which have attracted so much less attention: the rather silly Royal Highness (1909); the more brilliant Lotte in Weimar (1939 - US title: The Beloved Returns); the weird, late Holy Sinner (1951); and finally the unfinished Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man, begun as a short story in 1911, and completed and published as the first instalment of a much longer novel in 1954, just before the writer's death.



Thomas Mann: Death in Venice (1912)


Quite likely, though, there's only one thing you associate with the name Thomas Mann: Death in Venice. Or, rather, the wonderfully dreamy 1971 Visconti film about - in the immortal words of Monty Python's "Elizabeth L" sketch - "the elderly poof what dies in Venice."



John Ruane, dir.: Death in Brunswick (1990)


It also inspired an even more inspired spoof about a pitiful mother's boy (played by Sam Neill) in the rather grotty Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, whose series of comic misadventures culminate in an abortive attempt to poison her with a cup of tea as she listens to her favourite record, the slow movement of Mahler's fifth symphony - yes, that leitmotif which keeps going all through Visconti's masterpiece. You can listen to it here.






Helmut Koopman: Thomas Mann (2005)


So who exactly was Thomas Mann? In the picture above, taken in Munich in 1900, you can see him taking a rather subordinate position to his elder brother Heinrich, also a renowned writer. The two would soon change positions, though.

A year later Thomas published his first novel, Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family, still regarded by Germanists as his main claim to fame, given its importance as a chronicle of the decline of the great merchant families of Northern Germany. It was probably the decisive factor in earning him the Nobel Prize for literature in 1929, and it certainly established him as something of a pundit among commentators on German culture and society.

All through the turbulent years of the First World War, the post-war famine, the Weimar Republic, and the turn to Right-Wing Nationalism in his native land, he continued to struggle with his complex fate: a bourgeois but also an artist, a patriot but also an internationalist.



Brother Heinrich, a thorough Francophile and critic of Prussianism - one of his early novels, Professor Unrat, was filmed as the Marlene Dietrich vehicle The Blue Angel (1930) - faced no such ideological struggles. So far as he was concerned, aggressive German nationalism was a form of mental illness, which needed to be exorcised thoroughly before Germany would be fit to take its place among the other nations of Europe.

In retrospect, it's hard to disagree with him, but the brothers fell out in 1914, and found it difficult to maintain more than an uneasy truce ever after, despite Thomas's eventual espousal of a not dissimilar position.

He wrote novels, short stories, and essays in abundance. Not all of them have been translated into English, but enough is available to give you a pretty good idea of his progress from Protestant Burger to ardent New Dealer. When Hitler came to power, Mann fled to Switzerland and subsequently to the United States, where he was welcomed with open arms as the embodiment of the purer manifestations of German Kultur.



This marble-monument version of Mann does not really do him justice, however. His work is both diverse and perverse - by the standards of the time, at any rate. Visconti did not misinterpret the underlying themes of perhaps his greatest work, the novella Death in Venice. It's only one in a series of works which associate artistic inspiration with illness and deformity - a kind of leprosy of the soul which is nevertheless necessary to achieve such great heights.



Heinrich Breloer, dir.: Buddenbrooks (2008)


Mann was, of course, a contemporary of Sigmund Freud, and his ideas on the declining energies of great mercantile families - the first generation pirates and pioneers, the next generations consolidators and businessmen, and the generations after that neurotics and artists - were very much influenced by Freud's ideas on the debilitating tendencies of modern civilisation.

Among his other interests were psychic phenomena (he wrote an interesting essay called "Okkulte Erlebnisse" [An Experience in the Occult] about his own attendance at a séance with celebrated medium brothers Willi and Rudi Schneider). This, too, is one of the many influences which bore fruit in the later chapters of The Magic Mountain.

Is it his masterpiece? I would say so, yes. I greatly enjoyed reading the immensely lengthy Joseph and His Brothers, but it could be accused of a certain avoidance of contemporary phenomena. Amusingly enough, on one of my family visits to the UK, I discovered my 94-year-old Great-Aunt Morag ("It's a great age!") in the process of reading this vast, strange novel, which had been taken out of the library for her by my cousins under instructions to find her some religious books. She said she found it interesting, if a bit long-winded.



Thomas Mann: Doctor Faustus (1947)


Nor have I ever been able quite to fathom the exact point of Doctor Faustus, which others tell me should be regarded as his greatest work. I hope to remedy my deficiencies in this respect when I'm finally able, quite soon, to get hold of a copy of his book-length explication of it, The Story of a Novel (1961), however.

One thing's for certain, The Magic Mountain has nothing whatsoever to do with the Gore Verbinski horror film A Cure for Wellness, despite the director and screenwriter's claims to the contrary. Much though I enjoyed this film, I couldn't honestly see any kinship between their respective projects, apart from the fact that both stories take place at sanatoria in the Swiss Alps.



Gore Verbinski, dir.: A Cure for Wellness (2017)


I certainly do recommend Thomas Mann, though. In certain moods - when one has a lot of time on one's hands - his complex, intertwined narrative style is just what the doctor ordered. And his subject matter is anything but predictable and traditional.

'Polymorphous perversity', Freud's term for infantile sexuality, fits most of his heroes better than other, more conventional descriptions. Mann himself, though on the one hand a bourgeois family man, had another side which required a series of passionate male friendships. Doing justice to these two aspects of himself explains a good deal of his oeuvre.

In the late 1930s his actress daughter Erika required an English passport, having run into difficulties as a 'stateless person' due to her left-wing political affiliations. At the recommendation of Mann family friend Christopher Isherwood, W. H. Auden was asked to marry her in order to secure her a passport. 'Delighted,' he telegraphed in reply, and British nationality for her was duly obtained.

Some years later a photograph of Thomas Mann and his extended family was being taken for a feature article in America, and the journalist enquired just what Mr. Isherwood's connection with the Manns might be? "Family pimp," growled Thomas.

If you do start into his labyrinth, beware!



Carl Mydans: Thomas Mann and family (1939)
l-to-r: Christopher Isherwood, W. H. Auden, Erika Mann, Thomas Mann, Katia Mann, Monika Mann, Klaus Mann






Thomas Mann (1937)

Paul Thomas Mann
(1875-1955)




    Thomas Mann: Buddenbrooks (1901)


    Novels:

  1. Buddenbrooks – Verfall einer Familie (1901)
    • Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family. 1902. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter. 1924. London: Secker & Warburg, 1947.
  2. Königliche Hoheit (1909)
    • Royal Highness. 1909. Trans. A. Cecil Curtis. 1926. Rev. Constance McNab. 1962. Penguin Modern Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979.
  3. Der Zauberberg (1924)
    • The Magic Mountain. 1924. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter. 1928. London: Secker & Warburg, 1948.
    • The Magic Mountain: With a Postscript by the Author on The Making of the Novel. 1924. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter. 1928. London: Nationwide Book Service, 1979.
  4. Joseph und seine Brüder (1933-1943)
    1. Die Geschichten Jaakobs (1933)
    2. Der junge Joseph (1934)
    3. Joseph in Ägypten (1936)
    4. Joseph, der Ernährer (1943)
    • Joseph and His Brothers. ['The Stories of Jacob' (1933); 'Young Joseph' (1934); 'Joseph in Egypt' (1936); 'Joseph the Provider' (1943)]. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter. 1948. London: Secker & Warburg, 1956.
    • Joseph and His Brothers. ['The Stories of Jacob' (1933); 'Young Joseph' (1934); 'Joseph in Egypt' (1936); 'Joseph the Provider' (1943)]. Trans. Helen T. Lowe-Porter. Penguin Modern Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978.
  5. Lotte in Weimar (1939)
    • Lotte in Weimar. 1939. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter. London: Secker & Warburg, 1940.
  6. Doktor Faustus (1947)
    • Doctor Faustus: The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkühn as Told by a Friend. 1947. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter. 1949. Penguin Modern Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968.
  7. Der Erwählte (1951)
    • The Holy Sinner. 1951. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter. 1952. Penguin Modern Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1965.
  8. Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull. Der Memoiren erster Teil (1911 / 1954)
    • Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man: Memoirs Part I. 1954. Trans. Denver Lindley. 1955. Penguin Modern Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973.



  9. Thomas Mann: Lotte in Weimar (1939)


    Short Stories:

    [Included in Stories of a Lifetime. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter (1961);
    included in Six Early Stories. Trans. Peter Constantine (1997)]

  10. Vision (1893)
  11. Gefallen (1894)
  12. Der Wille zum Glück [The Will to Happiness] (1896)
  13. Enttäuschung [Disillusionment] (1896)
  14. Der kleine Herr Friedemann [Little Herr Friedemann] (1896)
  15. Der Tod [Death] (1897)
  16. Der Bajazzo [The Dilettante] (1897)
  17. Gerächt [Avenged] (1897)
  18. Luischen [Little Lizzy] (1897 / 1900)
  19. Tobias Mindernickel (1898)
  20. Der Kleiderschrank [The Wardrobe] (1899)
  21. Der Weg zum Friedhof [The Way to the Churchyard] (1900)
  22. Die Hungernden [The Hungry] (1903)
  23. Das Wunderkind [The Child Prodigy] (1903)
  24. Ein Glück [A Gleam] (1904)
  25. Beim Propheten [At the Prophet's] (1904)
  26. Schwere Stunde [A Weary Hour] (1905)
  27. Wӓlsungenblut [The Blood of the Walsungs] (1905)
  28. Das Eisenbahnunglück [The Railway Accident] (1907)
  29. Anekdote [Anecdote] (1908)
  30. Wie Jappe und Do Escobar sich prügelten [The Fight between Jappe and Do Escobar] (1911)
  31. Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull [Felix Krull] (1911 / 1922)

  32. Plays:

  33. Fiorenza [Florence] (1905)

  34. Novellas:

  35. Gladius Dei (1902)
  36. Tristan (1903)
  37. Tonio Kröger (1903)
  38. Der Tod in Venedig [Death in Venice] (1912)
  39. Herr und Hund [A Man and His Dog / Bashan and I] (1918)
  40. Unordnung und frühes Leid [Disorder and Early Sorrow] (1925)
  41. Mario und der Zauberer [Mario and the Magician] (1930)
  42. Die vertauschten Köpfe – Eine indische Legende [The Transposed Heads] (1940)
  43. Das Gesetz [The Tables of the Law] (1944)
  44. Die Betrogene: Erzählung [The Black Swan] (1954)



  45. Collections:

  46. Die Erzählungen, Erster Band. 2 vols. 1975. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1981.
    1. Vision (1893)
    2. Gefallen (1894)
    3. Der Wille zum Glück (1896)
    4. Enttäuschung (1896)
    5. Der Tod (1897)
    6. Der kleine Herr Friedemann (1896)
    7. Der Bajazzo (1897)
    8. Gerächt (1897)
    9. Luischen (1897 / 1900)
    10. Tobias Mindernickel (1898)
    11. Der Kleiderschrank (1899)
    12. Der Weg zum Friedhof (1900)
    13. Gladius Dei (1902)
    14. Tristan (1903)
    15. Die Hungernden (1903)
    16. Tonio Kröger (1903)
    17. Das Wunderkind (1903)
    18. Ein Glück (1904)
    19. Beim Propheten (1904)
    20. Schwere Stunde (1905)
    21. Wӓlsungenblut (1905)
    22. Anekdote (1908)
    23. Das Eisenbahnunglück (1907)
    24. Wie Jappe und Do Escobar sich prügelten (1911)
    25. Der Tod in Venedig (1912)
  47. Die Erzählungen, Zweiter Band. 2 vols. 1975. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1983.
    1. Herr und Hund (1918)
    2. Unordnung und frühes Leid (1925)
    3. Mario und der Zauberer (1930)
    4. Die vertauschten Köpfe – Eine indische Legende (1940)
    5. Das Gesetz (1944)
    6. Die Betrogene: Erzählung (1954)
    7. Fiorenza (1905)
    8. Gesang vom Kindchen: Idylle (1919)
  48. Stories of Three Decades. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter. The Modern Library. New York: Random House, Inc., 1936.
    1. Little Herr Friedemann (1897)
    2. Disillusionment (1896)
    3. The Dilettante (1897)
    4. Tobias Mindernickel (1897)
    5. Little Lizzy (1897)
    6. The Wardrobe (1899)
    7. The Way to the Churchyard (1901)
    8. Tonio Kröger (1903)
    9. Tristan (1903)
    10. The Hungry (1903)
    11. The Infant Prodigy (1903)
    12. Gladius Dei (1902)
    13. Fiorenza (1904)
    14. A Gleam (1904)
    15. At the Prophet's (1904)
    16. A Weary Hour (1905)
    17. The Blood of the Walsungs (1905)
    18. Railway Accident (1907)
    19. The Fight between Jappe and Do Escobar (1911)
    20. Felix Krull (1911)
    21. Death in Venice (1912)
    22. A Man and His Dog (1918)
    23. Disorder and Early Sorrow (1925)
    24. Mario and the Magician (1929)
  49. Stories of a Lifetime: The Collected Stories. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter. 1936. Vol. 1 of 2. Mercury Books 8. London: The Heinemann Group of Publishers, 1961.
    1. Little Herr Friedemann (1897)
    2. Disillusionment (1896)
    3. The Dilettante (1897)
    4. Tobias Mindernickel (1897)
    5. Little Lizzy (1897)
    6. The Wardrobe (1899)
    7. The Way to the Churchyard (1901)
    8. The Hungry (1902)
    9. Tristan (1902)
    10. Gladius Dei (1902)
    11. Tonio Kröger (1903)
    12. The Infant Prodigy (1903)
    13. A Gleam (1904)
    14. Fiorenza (1904)
    15. At the Prophet's (1904)
    16. A Weary Hour (1905)
    17. The Blood of the Walsungs (1905)
    18. Railway Accident (1907)
    19. The Fight between Jappe and Do Escobar (1911)
  50. Stories of a Lifetime: The Collected Stories. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter. 1936. Vol. 2 of 2. Mercury Books 9. London: The Heinemann Group of Publishers, 1961.
    1. Death in Venice (1912)
    2. A Man and His Dog (1918)
    3. Disorder and Early Sorrow (1925)
    4. Mario and the Magician (1929)
    5. The Transposed Heads (1940)
    6. The Tables of the Law (1944)
    7. The Black Swan (1953)


  51. Thomas Mann: Six Early Stories (1997)


  52. Six Early Stories. Trans. Peter Constantine (1997)
    1. A Vision: Prose Sketch (1893)
    2. Fallen (1894)
    3. The Will to Happiness (1896)
    4. Death (1897)
    5. Avenged: Study for a Novella (1897)
    6. Anecdote (1908)



  53. Thomas Mann: Three Essays (1929)


    Non-fiction:

  54. Three Essays. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter (1929)
    1. Friedrich und die große Koalition [Frederick and the Great Coalition] (1915)
    2. Goethe und Tolstoi [Goethe and Tolstoy] (1922)
    3. Okkulte Erlebnisse [An Experience in the Occult] (1924)
  55. Past Masters and Other Papers. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter (1933)
  56. An Exchange of Letters. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter (1937)
  57. Freud, Goethe, Wagner. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter & Rita Matthias-Rail (1937)
  58. The Coming Victory of Democracy. Trans. Agnes E. Meyer. 1938. London: Secker & Warburg, 1938.
  59. This Peace. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter (1938)
  60. This War. Trans. Eric Sutton (1940)
  61. Order of the Day: Political Essays and Speeches of Two Decades. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter, Agnes E. Meyer & Eric Sutton (1942)
  62. Listen, Germany! Twenty-Five Radio Messages to the German People over the BBC (1943)
  63. Essays of Three Decades. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter. London: Secker & Warburg, 1947.
    1. Goethe's Faust (1938)
    2. Goethe's Career As a Man of Letters (1932)
    3. Goethe as Representative of the Bourgeois Age (1932)
    4. Goethe and Tolstoy (1922)
    5. Anna Karenina (1939)
    6. Lessing (1929)
    7. Kleist's Amphitryon (1926)
    8. Chamisso (1911)
    9. Platen (1930)
    10. Theodor Storm (1930)
    11. The Old Fontane (1910)
    12. Sufferings and Greatness of Richard Wagner (1933)
    13. Richard Wagner and the Ring (1937)
    14. Schopenhauer (1938)
    15. Freud and the Future (1936)
    16. Voyage with Don Quixote (1934)
  64. Last Essays. Trans. Richard & Clara Winston and Tania & James Stern. 1958. London: Secker & Warburg, 1959.
    1. On Schiller
    2. Fantasy on Goethe
    3. Nietzsche's Philosophy in the Light of Recent History
    4. Chekhov
    5. Appendix: 'A Weary Hour'. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter (1905)
  65. A Sketch of My Life. ['Lebensabriß', 1930]. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter (1960)
  66. The Story of a Novel: The Genesis of Doctor Faustus. Trans. Richard & Clara Winston (1961)
  67. Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man / Thoughts in Wartime / On the German Republic. ['Betrachtungen eines Unpolitischen', 1918; 'Gedanken im Kriege' (1914); 'Von deutscher Republik', 1922]. Trans. Walter D. Morris, Mark Lilla and Cosima Mattner, Lawrence Rainey. Introduction by Mark Lilla. New York: New York Review Books, 2021.



  68. Thomas Mann: Doctor Faustus / The Story of a Novel (1947 / 1961)


    Secondary:

  69. Diaries 1918-1939: 1918-1921; 1933-1939. Ed. Hermann Kesten. 1977-80. Trans. Richard & Clara Winston. 1982. London: Robin Clark, 1984.
  70. Letters of Thomas Mann, 1889-1955. Ed. & Trans. Richard & Clara Winston. 2 vols. 1970. Penguin Modern Classics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1975.
  71. Carlsson, Anni & Volker Michels, ed. The Hesse-Mann Letters: The Correspondence of Hermann Hesse and Thomas Mann, 1910-1955. 1968. Trans. Ralph Manheim. Foreword by Theodore Ziolkowski. 1975. London: Peter Owen, 1976.