The Poet of Shame and Guilt
By Saul Friedlander
(Yale University Press, Hardcover, 9780300136616, 200pp.)
Publication Date: April 1, 2013
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A highly original and engaging appraisal of Kafka’s life, work, legacy, and thought
Saul Friedländer is a renowned historian of the Holocaust and in 2008 won the Pulitzer Prize for the second volume of his influential work The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939–1945. He is Distinguished Emeritus Professor of History and Club 39 Endowed Chair in Holocaust Studies at UCLA. Friedländer was born in Prague and spent his boyhood in Nazi-occupied France. He now lives in Los Angeles.
“This is a book that springs directly from the author's background and from a manifest love for—and great knowledge of—Kafka's work and his milieu. The book's main objective is to mine the question of Kafka's guilt and shame, and Friedlander is more probing, historical and impartial in examining these questions than just about any other scholar I know.”—Mark Anderson, author of Reading Kafka and Kafka’s Clothes
"Friedländer’s concise new book, born of both sorrow and affection, is an ideal place to begin among the hulking alps of Kafka studies." —William Giraldi, New Republic
"This book is a clear, uncensorious and serious contribution to the publisher’s Jewish Lives series. It is the work of a great historian paying careful attention to a great and disquieting writer."—Robert Eaglestone, Times Higher Education Supplement
"Like Kafka’s work, Franz Kafka is dense and provocative. In his exploration of Kafka’s work, Friedländer calls on his rich knowledge of Central Europe during Kafka’s lifetime. . . A candid and stimulating examination of the forces that shaped Kafka’s anguished life/work."—Maron L. Waxman, Jewish Book Council
-Maron L. Waxman