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Kafka: The Decisive Years

Kafka: The Decisive Years

By Reiner Stach
Translated by Shelley Frisch

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2017
Longlisted for the 2017 National Translation Award, American Literary Translators Association

"Stach's book crowns a definitive biographical trilogy 18 years in the making. . . . Kafka: The Early Years, along with its two siblings—all three volumes impeccably translated from the German by Shelley Frisch—often feels like biography plotted as a novel. Stach's relish for detail is marshaled to the sensibility—if not the omniscience or imaginative license—of the novelist. . . . [T]he heft of Stach's research is balanced by interpretive tact and a discerning eye."—Benjamin Balint, Wall Street Journal

This is the acclaimed central volume of the definitive biography of Franz Kafka. Reiner Stach spent more than a decade working with over four thousand pages of journals, letters, and literary fragments, many never before available, to re-create the atmosphere in which Kafka lived and worked from 1910 to 1915, the most important and best-documented years of his life. This period, which would prove crucial to Kafka's writing and set the course for the rest of his life, saw him working with astonishing intensity on his most seminal writings--The Trial, "The Metamorphosis", The Man Who Disappeared (Amerika), and "The Judgment". These are also the years of Kafka's fascination with Zionism; of his tumultuous engagement to Felice Bauer; and of the outbreak of World War I.

Kafka: The Decisive Years is at once an extraordinary portrait of the writer and a startlingly original contribution to the art of literary biography.

Reiner Stach worked extensively on the definitive edition of Kafka's collected works before embarking on this three-volume biography. The third volume, Kafka: The Years of Insight (Princeton), covering Kafka's final years, is also available. The first volume, covering Kafka's childhood and youth, is forthcoming.

Paperback 
624 pages
37 halftones
Princeton University Press, 2013
ISBN 9780691147413
Biography, Nonfiction

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