Franz Kafka (Hardcover)
The Poet of Shame and Guilt (Jewish Lives)
Yale University Press, 9780300136616, 200pp.
Publication Date: April 16, 2013
From the prizewinning Jewish Lives series, a highly original and engaging appraisal of Kafka’s life, work, legacy, and thought
Franz Kafka was the poet of his own disorder. Throughout his life he struggled with a pervasive sense of shame and guilt that left traces in his daily existence—in his many letters, in his extensive diaries, and especially in his fiction. This stimulating book investigates some of the sources of Kafka’s personal anguish and its complex reflections in his imaginary world.
In his query, Saul Friedländer probes major aspects of Kafka’s life (family, Judaism, love and sex, writing, illness, and despair) that until now have been skewed by posthumous censorship. Contrary to Kafka’s dying request that all his papers be burned, Max Brod, Kafka’s closest friend and literary executor, edited and published the author’s novels and other works soon after his death in 1924. Friedländer shows that, when reinserted in Kafka’s letters and diaries, deleted segments lift the mask of “sainthood” frequently attached to the writer and thus restore previously hidden aspects of his individuality.
About Jewish Lives:
Jewish Lives is a prizewinning series of interpretative biography designed to explore the many facets of Jewish identity. Individual volumes illuminate the imprint of Jewish figures upon literature, religion, philosophy, politics, cultural and economic life, and the arts and sciences. Subjects are paired with authors to elicit lively, deeply informed books that explore the range and depth of the Jewish experience from antiquity to the present.
In 2014, the Jewish Book Council named Jewish Lives the winner of its Jewish Book of the Year Award, the first series ever to receive this award.
More praise for Jewish Lives:
"Excellent" –New York Times
"Exemplary" –Wall Street Journal
"Distinguished" –New Yorker
"Superb" –The Guardian
About the Author
Praise For Franz Kafka: The Poet of Shame and Guilt (Jewish Lives)…
— William Giraldi
— Mark Anderson
— Robert Eaglestone
— Maron L. Waxman
— Weekly Standard
— The Forward
— Philip Schultz
"[Friedländer] has clearly mastered the vast scholarship that has attached itself to Kafka, and he brings fresh insights of his own to the challenging body of work Kafka left behind."—Jonathan Kirsch, Jewish Journal
— Jonathan Kirsch
— Outstanding Academic Title
— Jewish Ledger