Kafka's Last Trial

Kafka's Last Trial : The Case of a Literary Legacy

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'A highly entertaining story of literary friendship, epic legal battles and cultural politics centred on one of the most enigmatic writers of the 20th century' Financial Times

When Franz Kafka died in 1924, his friend Max Brod could not bring himself to fulfil the writer's last instruction: to burn his remaining manuscripts. Instead, Brod took them with him to Palestine in 1939, and devoted the rest of his life to editing and canonizing Kafka's work. By betraying his last wish, Brod twice rescued his legacy - first from physical destruction, and then from obscurity.

In Kafka's Last Trial, Benjamin Balint offers a gripping account of the contest for ownership that followed, ending in Israeli courts with a controversial trial - brimming with legal, ethical, and political dilemmas - that would determine the fate of Kafka's manuscripts. This is at once a biographical portrait of a literary genius, and the story of two countries whose national obsessions with overcoming the traumas of the past came to a head in a hotly contested trial for the right to claim the literary legacy of one of our modern masters.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 153 x 234 x 21mm | 399g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Air Iri OME
  • 1509836721
  • 9781509836727
  • 662,271

Table of contents

Chapter - 1: The Last Appeal
Chapter - 2: "Fanatical Veneration": The First to Fall under Kafka's Spell
Chapter - 3: The First Trial
Chapter - 4: Flirting with the Promised Land
Chapter - 5: First and Second Judgments
Chapter - 6: Last Son of the Diaspora: Kafka's Jewish Afterlife
Chapter - 7: The Last Ingathering: Kafka in Israel
Chapter - 8: Kafka's Last Wish, Brod's First Betrayal
Chapter - 9: Kafka's Creator
Chapter - 10: The Last Train: From Prague to Palestine
Chapter - 11: The Last Tightrope Dancer: Kafka in Germany
Chapter - 12: Laurel & Hardy
Chapter - 13: Brod's Last Love
Chapter - 14: The Last Heiress: Selling Kafka
Chapter - 15: The Last Heiress: Selling Kafka
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Review Text

A literary battle that became Kafkaesque . . . remarkable . . . I warmly recommend this deeply absorbing book. Daily Telegraph
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Review quote

Who should inherit Kafka? . . . Searing questions of language, of personal bequest, of friendship, of biographical evidence, of national pride, of justice, of deceit and betrayal, even of metaphysical allegiance, burn through Balint's scrupulous trackings of Kafka's final standing before the law. -- Cynthia Ozick, Orange prize-shortlisted author of Foreign Bodies Thrilling and profound, Kafka's Last Trial shines new light not only on the greatest writer of the twentieth century and the fate of his work, but also on the larger question of who owns art or has a right to claim guardianship of it . . . [Balint's] research and lively intelligence deliver insights on every page. -- Nicole Krauss Balint handles these complicated claims and counter-claims with great care. He has read widely in the literature about Kafka and provides a fascinating account of the Jewish world of early 20th century Prague, which formed Kafka and Brod . . . Above all, he brings Brod to life . . . Balint is an extremely interesting writer and critic. * Standpoint * Gripping and knotty. * New Statesman * The question of who owns Kafka is at the heart of Benjamin Balint's thought-provoking and assiduously researched Kafka's Last Trial. * Literary Review * Kafka's Last Trial is a legal and philosophical black comedy of the first order, complete, like all the best adventure stories, with a physical treasure to be won or lost . . . : the absurdity of our modern obsession with `authenticity' and `ownership' * Spectator * Dramatic and illuminating . . . raises momentous questions about nationality, religion, literature, and even the Holocaust. * The Atlantic * Absorbing . . . Not only does Mr Balint ask, "Who owns Kafka?" He explores the meaning of a writer's legacy in an age that, like Kafka's disorienting stories, puts identity and belonging in doubt. * The Economist * Balint's account of this saga is both a fine journalistic telling of that half century of courtroom drama, and a revealing examination of the writer and the relationships at its heart . . . Balint brings all of these forces and arguments to vivid life. * Observer * Balint fascinatingly examines how much was at stake for Germany and Israel in claiming Kafka as their man . . . [He] has minutely researched every twist and turn of this politico-legal saga, and tells it with even-handed seriousness. * Sunday Times * [A] fascinating and forensically scrupulous account of the history of Kafka's papers. -- John Banville * Guardian * A literary battle that became Kafkaesque . . . remarkable . . . I warmly recommend this deeply absorbing book. * Daily Telegraph *
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About Benjamin Balint

Benjamin Balint taught literature, including Kafka, at the Bard College humanities programme at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem. His first book, Running Commentary, was published by PublicAffairs in 2010. His second book, Jerusalem: City of the Book, is co-authored with Merav Mack. His reviews and essays regularly appear in the Wall Street Journal, Die Zeit, Haaretz, the Weekly Standard, and the Claremont Review of Books. His translations of Hebrew poetry have appeared in the New Yorker and in Poetry International.
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Rating details

145 ratings
3.82 out of 5 stars
5 22% (32)
4 44% (64)
3 29% (42)
2 4% (6)
1 1% (1)
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