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Kafka: The Years of Insight [Paperback]

Kafka: The Years of Insight [Paperback]

Kafka: The Years of Insight [Paperback]

By Reiner Stach
Translated by Shelley Frisch

Longlisted for the 2014 PEN Translation Award, Pen American Center
Winner of the 2014 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize

"[S]cholars and specialists lost and absorbed in the many rooms of the Kafka factory will find much to discuss in the labors of Reiner Stach."—Joy Williams, New York Times Book Review

"[Stach's] resplendent Kafka: The Years of Insight, tracking Kafka's final eight years, meditates on the limits of the knowable even as it exhibits unparalleled dedication to the Kafka's life and work."—Gary Giddins, Wall Street Journal

"This work is a monumental accomplishment with a first-rate translation by scholar Frisch."—Library Journal

This volume of Reiner Stach’s acclaimed and definitive biography of Franz Kafka tells the story of the final years of the writer’s life, from 1916 to 1924—a period during which the world Kafka had known came to an end. Stach’s riveting narrative, which reflects the latest findings about Kafka’s life and works, draws readers in with nearly cinematic precision, zooming in for extreme close-ups of Kafka’s personal life, then pulling back for panoramic shots of a wider world blighted by World War I, disease, and inflation.

In these years, Kafka was spared military service at the front, yet his work as a civil servant brought him into chilling proximity with its grim realities. He was witness to unspeakable misery, lost the financial security he had been counting on to lead the life of a writer, and remained captive for years in his hometown of Prague. The outbreak of tuberculosis and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire constituted a double shock for Kafka, and made him agonizingly aware of his increasing rootlessness. He began to pose broader existential questions, and his writing grew terser and more reflective, from the parable-like "Country Doctor" stories and "A Hunger Artist to The Castle".

A door seemed to open in the form of a passionate relationship with the Czech journalist Milena Jesenská. But the romance was unfulfilled and Kafka, an incurably ill German Jew with a Czech passport, continued to suffer. However, his predicament only sharpened his perceptiveness, and the final period of his life became the years of insight.

696 pages | 72 halftones
Princeton University Press; reprint edition, 2015
Originally published in 2013
6 x 9.25 inches
ISBN 9780691165844
Biography, Literature Criticism

$24.95 $24.95