Vintage Books USA, Paperback, 9781400076123, 327pp.
Publication Date: February 14, 2006
From the internationally acclaimed author of The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony comes one of the most significant books in recent years on a writer of perennial interest–a virtuoso interpretation of the work of Franz Kafka.
What are Kafka’s fictions about? Are they dreams? Allegories? Symbols? Countless answers have been offered, but the essential mystery remains intact. Setting out on his own exploration, Roberto Calasso enters the flow, the tortuous movement, the physiology of Kafka’s work to discover why K. and Josef K.–the protagonists of The Castle and The Trial–are so radically different from any other character in the history of the novel, and to determine who, in the end, is K. The culmination of Calasso’s lifelong fascination with Kafka’s work, K. is also an unprecedented consideration of the mystery of Kafka himself.
“For such a writer [as Kafka], Calasso is the ideal critic.” –The New Yorker
“No one could bring more intelligence and cultural range to a fresh encounter with Kafka [than] the erudite and sophisticated Calasso. . . . His prose is a marvel, and K. makes for an exhilarating adventure.” –Frederick Crews, The New York Review of Books
“Engaging. . . . As good an account of the strangeness of Kafka’s world and the reason for its bizarre coherence as anyone has offered.” –The New Republic
“Translucent and revelatory. . . . It’s a measure of Calasso’s accomplishment that his readings feel familiar, as though his erudition were inside us. . . . His tone, while epic, is also welcoming.” –The New York Times Book Review