Now back in print, more than two decades' worth of revelatory letters-sometimes surprisingly humorous, sometimes heart-wrenchingly sad-to the men and women with whom Franz Kafka maintained his closest personal relationships.
FRANZ KAFKA was born in Prague in 1883 and died of tuberculosis in a sanatorium near Vienna in 1924. After earning a law degree in 1906, he worked for most of his adult life at the Worker's Accident Insurance Institute in Prague. Only a small portion of Kafka's writings were published during his lifetime. He left instructions for his friend and literary executor Max Brod to destroy all of his unpublished work after his death, instructions Brod famously ignored.
"Kafka's letters are precious for what they reveal of a literary
genius's insights into the predicaments of the modern artist, as
well as for what they tell us of Kafka's loves, loyalties, fears,
guilt, and his floundering attempts to cope with the debilitating
disease that blighted half his adult life . . . Fluently and
gracefully translated, helpfully annotated with care and admirable
concision, [they] afford us an inside view of a writer who, perhaps
more than any other novelist or poet in our century, stands at the
center of our culture."
-Robert Alter, The New York Times Book Review
"A series of self-portraits desperate and courageous, always eager and warm in feeling; the self is lit by fantasy and, of course, by drollery. He was a marvelous letter writer."
-V. S. Pritchett, The New York Review of Books