August 6, 2010

A Short Story by Kafka You've Probably Never Seen Before

A couple of weeks ago there was some buzz regarding the opening of some safety deposit boxes containing Max Brod's papers, which include some writings by Franz Kafka. As I've mentioned in one of my previous posts, I find it quite difficult to believe that researchers would find anything there that has not already been published by Brod. I've also had a few e-mail correspondences with friends about this, one of whom expressed disappointment that there "won't be any new stories" to be found. I believe my response was something like:
"You say that as if you've already gone through his diaries, letters, and notebooks twice."
To which he replied:
"I have no intention of going through all his diaries and letters, I'm not a Kafka addict, like SOME people I know."
Which is a shame, but also touches on a rather common misconception that all of Kafka's short fiction is to be found in a volume like The Complete Stories (I'll admit, the title is misleading). In fact, even including the sporadically available Parables and Paradoxes, which collects some famous short works like "The Green Dragon" and "The Hunger Strike", some works are left out, particularly those that only appeared in Kafka's letters.
For example, Kafka's earliest surviving work of fiction, "Shamefaced Lanky and Impure in Heart," is not included in any collection of his stories that I've come across, and only survived because Kafka incorporated it into a 1902 letter to Oskar Pollak (included in Letters to Friends, Family, and Editors).
And since there's nothing I'd like better than to be sued by the greedy heirs of Max Brod and/or Oskar Pollak, here is the complete story for your enjoyment (click on the text for a better view):

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