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

Staff Pick Badge
Kafka's Last Trial: The Case of a Literary Legacy Cover Image
Usually Ships in 1-5 Days

Staff Reviews

Bookseller: Ellyne
Title: Kafka's Last Trial

Max Brod hated the word 'Kafkaesque', yet what else can one call the story of Kafka's papers and how they ended up, many of them, in a Tel Aviv apartment 'living' with one woman and a lot of cats?

Having read a wonderful article written by Elif Batuman some years ago in the New York Times Magazine about this very subject, I was hooked the moment I saw the title. 

The question before the Israeli court: where should the papers reside if not on Spinoza Street with Eva Hoffe and her cats?  Whose papers are they, given that Kafka asked that they be burned? 

These questions and more WILL be answered!

P.S. At age 85, Eva Hoffe died on 8/4/2018 leaving no heirs.

— From Ellyne


Kafka's Last Trial begins with Kafka's last instruction to his closest friend, Max Brod: to destroy all his remaining papers upon his death. But when the moment arrived in 1924, Brod could not bring himself to burn the unpublished works of the man he considered a literary genius--even a saint. Instead, Brod devoted his life to championing Kafka's writing, rescuing his legacy from obscurity and physical destruction.

The story of Kafka's posthumous life is itself Kafkaesque. By the time of Brod's own death in Tel Aviv in 1968, Kafka's major works had been published, transforming the once little-known writer into a pillar of literary modernism. Yet Brod left a wealth of still-unpublished papers to his secretary, who sold some, held on to the rest, and then passed the bulk of them on to her daughters, who in turn refused to release them. An international legal battle erupted to determine which country could claim ownership of Kafka's work: Israel, where Kafka dreamed of living but never entered, or Germany, where Kafka's three sisters perished in the Holocaust?

Benjamin Balint offers a gripping account of the controversial trial in Israeli courts--brimming with dilemmas legal, ethical, and political--that determined the fate of Kafka's manuscripts. Deeply informed, with sharply drawn portraits and a remarkable ability to evoke a time and place, Kafka's Last Trial is at once a brilliant 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.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781324001317
ISBN-10: 1324001313
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: September 18th, 2018
Pages: 288
Language: English