The Castle
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The Castle

By (author) Franz Kafka , Translated by Mark Harman

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Franz Kafka's final novel tells the haunting tale of a man known only as K. and of his relentless, unavailing struggle with an inscrutable authority in order to gain entrance to the Castle. Although Kafka seemed to consider `The Castle` a failure, critics, in wrestling with its enigmatic meaning, have recognized it as one of the great novels of our century. Unfinished at Kafka's death in 1924, the manuscript of `The Castle` was edited for publication by Kafka's friend and literary executor, Max Brod. Both Brod's edition and the English-language translation of it that was prepared by Willa and Edwin Muir in 1930 have long been considered flawed. This new edition of Kafka's terrifying and comic masterpiece is the product of an international team of experts who went back to Kafka's original manuscript and notes to create an edition that is as close as possible to the way the author left it. The `Times Literary Supplement` hailed their work, saying that it will `decisively alter our understanding of Kafka and render previous editions obsolete.` Mark Harman's brilliant translation closely follows the fluidity and breathlessness of the sparsely punctuated original manuscript, revealing levels of comedy, energy, and visual power that have not been previously accessible to English-language readers. W. H. Auden likened Kafka to Dante, Shakespeare, and Goethe as the single most important writer of his age. Here, in this new edition, is a Kafka for the twenty-first century.

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  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 133 x 216 x 19mm | 340g
  • 01 Jan 1999
  • Schocken Books
  • New York
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 0805211063
  • 9780805211061
  • 51,065

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Author Information

Franz Kafka was born in 1883 in Prague, where he lived most of his life. During his lifetime, he published only a few short stories, including `The Metamorphosis,` `The Judgment,` and `The Stoker.` He died in 1924, before completing any of his full-length novels. At the end of his life, Kafka asked his lifelong friend and literary executor Max Brod to burn all his unpublished work. Brod overrode those wishes. Mark Harman holds a Ph.D. from Yale University and has taught German and Irish literature at Oberlin and Dartmouth. In addition to writing scholarly essays on Kafka and other modern authors, he has edited and co-translated `Robert Walser Rediscovered: Stories, Fairy-Tale Plays, and Critical Responses` and has translated `Soul of the Age: Selected Letters of Hermann Hesse, 1891-1962.` He teaches literature at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Review quote

`[Hartman's translation is] semantically accurate to an admirable degree, faithful to Kafka's nuances, and responsive to the tempo of his sentences and to the larger music of his paragraph construction. For the general reader or for the student, it will be the translation of preference for some time to come.` --J. M. Coetzee, `The New York Review of Books` ` ` ` ``The limits of Kafka's messianic vision correspond to the great skepticism with which he regarded the possibility of transcending the human predicament . . . At precisely the point when K. draws closest to his own salvation and to the salvation that he could offer the rest of the world, he is also farthest away from it. At precisely the moment when his spirit is called, K. is asleep.` --W. G. Sebald `The new Schocken edition of `The Castle` represents a major and long-awaited event in English-language publishing. It is a wonderful piece of news for all Kafka readers who, for more than half a century, have had to rely on flawed, superannuated editions. Mark Harman is to be commended for his success in capturing the fresh, fluid, almost breathless style of Kafka's original manuscript, which leaves the reader hanging in mid-sentence.` --Mark M. Anderson ``The Castle, ` published here for the first time in 1930, was the first Kafka to arrive in America. After the war, Hannah Arendt remarked that The Castle might finally be comprehensible to the generation of the forties, who had had the occasion to watch their world become Kafkaesque. What will the generation of the nineties make of `The Castle, ` now that its full message has arrived? Here is the masterpiece behind the masterpiece.` --Elisabeth Young-Bruehl `Sparkles with comedy, with zest, and with a fresh visual power, which in the Muir translation were indistinct or lost. This is not just a new, brilliantly insightful, sensitive, and stylish translation, it is a new `Castle, ` and it is a pleasure to read.` --

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Review text

Kafka's great allegory (originally published, posthumously, in 1926) of a supposed surveyor adrift in a `castle,` which may be no more than a collection of random buildings, memorably expresses his distinctive vision of a formless and secretive world that frustrates our efforts to comprehend it. This compulsively readable new translation, based on a text `restored` from the author's original manuscript, labors to replace the standard English version (by Willa and Edwin Muir) that had `tone[d] down Kafka's ominousness` and `normalized` his deliberately eccentric syntax and punctuation. In either translation, The Castle is a major modern symbolist work, and it's good to have it in print once again. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Flap copy

Introduction by Irving Howe; Translation by Willa and Edwin Muir `From the Hardcover edition.

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