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Amerika The Missing Person

ISBN-10: 0805211616
ISBN-13: 9780805211610
Edition: 2008
List price: $14.00 Buy it from $7.39
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Description: Franz Kafka's diaries and letters suggest that his fascination with America grew out of a desire to break away from his native Prague, even if only in his imagination. Kafka died before he could finish what he like to call his "American novel,: but  More...

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Book details

List price: $14.00
Copyright year: 2008
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 8/16/2011
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 336
Size: 5.25" wide x 8.00" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.308
Language: English

Franz Kafka's diaries and letters suggest that his fascination with America grew out of a desire to break away from his native Prague, even if only in his imagination. Kafka died before he could finish what he like to call his "American novel,: but he clearly entitled it Der Verschollene ("The Missing Person") in a letter to his fiancee, Felice Bauer, in 1912. Kafka began writing the novel that fall and wrote until the last completed chapter in 1914, but in wasn't until 1927, three years after his death, that Amerika--the title that Kafka's friend and literary executor Max Brod gave his edited version of the unfinished manuscript--was published in Germany by Kurt Wolff Verlag. An English translation by Willa and Edwin Muir was published in Great Britain in 1932 and in the United States in 1946. Over the last thirty years, an international team of Kafka scholars has been working on German-language critical editions of all of Kafka's writings, going back to the original manuscripts and notes, correcting transcription errors, and removing Brod's editorial and stylistic interventions to create texts that are as close as possible to the way the author left them. With the same expert balance of precision and nuance that marked his award-winning translation of The Castle, Mark Harman now restores the humor ad particularity of language in his translation of the critical edition of Der Verschollene. Here is the story of young Karl Rossman, who, following an incident involving a housemaid, is banished by his parents to America. With unquenchable optimism and in the company of two comic-sinister companions, he throws himself into misadventure, eventually heading towards Oklahoma, where a career in the theater beckons. Though we can never know how Kafka planned to end the novel, Harman's superb translation allows us to appreciate, as closely as possible, what Kafka did commit to the page.

Franz Kafka was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, of middle-class Jewish parents. He apparently suffered a great deal of psychological pain at a young age at the hands of his domineering father. He took a law degree at the German University of Prague, then obtained a position in the workman's compensation division of the Austrian government. Always neurotic, insecure, and filled with a sense of inadequacy, Kafka's writing is a search for personal fulfillment and understanding. He wrote very slowly and deliberately, publishing very little in his lifetime. At his death he asked a close friend to burn his remaining manuscripts , but the friend refused the request. Instead the friend arranged for publication Kafka's longer stories, which have since brought him worldwide fame and have influenced many contemporary writers. Kafka's stories are nightmarish tales in which a helpless central character's every move is controlled by heartless, impersonal forces. An example is his 1938 psychological thriller, "The Metamorphosis." The story centers around a salesman named Gregor, who wakes up one morning and finds he is no longer a man but a giant insect. In today's increasingly complex, technological, and bureaucratic societies, Kafka has found a growing audience of sympathetic readers who understand the feeling of powerlessness Kafka's heroes experienced.

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