Very kindly, my lovely postie has just dropped off a package containing the English-language translation of Reiner Stach's critically acclaimed Kafka biography Kafka: The Decisive Years (Harcourt):

This is the first of a three-volume, definitive biography of Franz Kafka. Eighty years after his death in 1924, Kafka remains one of the most intriguing figures in the history of world literature. Now, after more than a decade of research, working with over four thousand pages of journal entries, letters, and literary fragments, Reiner Stach re-creates the atmosphere in which Kafka lived and worked from 1910 to 1915. These are the years of Kafka's fascination with early forms of Zionism despite his longing to be assimilated into the minority German culture in Prague; of his off-again, on-again engagement to Felice Bauer; of the outbreak of World War I; and above all of the composition of his seminal works - The Metamorphosis, Amerika, The Judgment, and The Trial.

This is all very timely, as my dear friend Christian is just back from Prague and has, he tells me, bought me a Kafka T-shirt!

Also worth reading, of course, is my interview with another Kafka biographer Nicholas Murray.

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