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Reading Kafka’s “The Trial”

…which is timely apropos of the recent trial regarding Kafka’s bequests.

Kafka had burned over 90% of his manuscripts during his lifetime. Kafka had instructed his friend Max Brod to burn the manuscripts after his death in 1924 but his friend did not honor that request and took them with him when he fled the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939 and emigrated to Palestine.

On his death in 1968, Brod bequeathed the papers to his secretary Esther Hoffe, with instructions to give them to the “Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the municipal library in Tel Aviv or another organization in Israel or abroad”.

But Hoffe, who died in 2007, instead kept them and shared them between her two daughters, sparking multiple legal battles.

In the trial against Hoffe’s heirs, which began in 2009, the state of Israel demanded they hand over all the documents, which included unpublished writings, arguing it was Brod’s last will. The high court ruled in favor of the library, stating it was Brod’s last will that the manuscripts should be at a cultural institution.

2 Responses

  1. I’ve not read this one, only Metamorphosis, but I probably should. And it’s probably a nice break from Middlemarch?

  2. This reminds me. I’ve been meaning to read the Metamorphosis for a while now. Can you recommend a good translation?

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