A new biography of Western literature's most iconic writer, from the acclaimed novelist and author of About Schmidt.
Kafkaesque: the very word evokes tortuous bureaucracy, crushing self-doubt, and an almost unbearable inadequacy in the face of higher powers. After Kafka, it can be said, literature was not the same. In the few novels and short stories he left behind, he distilled the horrors of the new age. Kafka's is the voice of the outsider - that is, the voice of each one of us, at once defined by its affiliations and completely, utterly alone.
The product of both a transitional age (the beginning of the 20th century) and a territory in flux (Czechoslovakia), Kafka spoke and wrote German in Czech territory. He was a Jew among Christians, a non-observant Jew among believers.
Louis Begley, himself a multilingual exile and, like Kafka, a lawyer and writer, renders Kafka's life with sensitivity and insight. Begley's discussion of Kafka's masterpiece The Trial, along with shorter works such as "The Metamorphosis", opens a window on a tormented soul, one of the most intriguing figures of the modern period.
"Although numerous biographers have guided readers on a journey through Kafka's labyrinthine life and writings, celebrated novelist Begley cannily allows Kafka to speak in his own words as much as possible, weaving selections from letters, journals, novels and stories into a biographical narrative....Begley's book emphasizes the importance of valuing the aesthetic and emotional impact of Kafka's work, offering a fresh glimpse of the tortured genius behind some of the 20th century's most perplexing and most rewarding writings." (Publishers Weekly)
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