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Dimensions:
200 × 130 mm
160 pages
Format:
Paperback
ISBN:
9781861892546
Illustrations:
30 illustrations
Published:
01 Aug 2005
Series:
Critical Lives

Franz Kafka Sander L. Gilman

Franz Kafka remains one of the central intellectual and cultural figures of our time. Eighty years after his death his work and life continues to fascinate readers and writers. The aura of his life and times has become part of the way we see our own world - no matter how we define it - some aspect of it is always ‘Kafkaesque’. This is a short, readable biography and critical overview of Franz Kafka, with an emphasis on the relationship between his life and works as read through his culture and his understanding of his own ‘body’. 

The life is seen through Kafka’s own writings, letters, and diaries; all are understood as part of an on-going attempt to create an identity for himself and his world. The biography stresses the image and role of the Jew in Kafka’s world of the ‘modern’ and how Kafka, a typical Central European Jew of his time, responds to these attitudes, actions, and stereotypes.

The book also looks at the impact of psychoanalysis on Kafka and the creation of his published and unpublished works. The biography contains much material that elucidates how Kafka reshapes such experiences of the world into his literary texts. The final chapter looks at the creation of the ‘Kafka-myth’ after his death, presenting material from the subsequent eighty years, from Walter Benjamin to Ted Hughes and beyond. The book also contains a comprehensive bibliography and filmography.

‘Recognises that comprehensive, overarching interpretations . . . attenuate or simply miss the sheer strangeness of Kafka’s fictional world.’ – Financial Times

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Sander L. Gilman is Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Medicine at the University of Illinois, Chicago, USA. A cultural and literary historian, he is the author or editor of over sixty books, including Health and Illness: Images of Difference (Reaktion Books, 1996), and Smoke: A Global History of Smoking (Reaktion Books, 2004).