July 20, 2010

Kafka in Tel Aviv

It seems the big story in the last few days (and I'm basing this simply on the fact that it has been forwarded to me by several people) is the opening of the vaults in Tel Aviv which contain Kafka's manuscripts. Though it's hard to find a bigger Kafka fan than me (see: Kafka's collected works), I'm finding it difficult to get excited. These papers were in Brod's possession for years, and he was notorious for obsessively publishing just about everything Kafka ever wrote, so there's virtually no chance that there's anything new there.

The article claims that a never before seen short story is among the manuscripts but that does not seem likely. This is basically a fight over who has the right to the manuscripts, Brod's heirs (assuming Brod had the right to them to begin with) or the state of Israel, claiming the papers are "cultural assets belonging to the Jewish people." Anyone familiar with Kafka's works will recognize the irony of this situation. Maybe the most appropriate solution would be to finally respect Kafka's request and burn the papers.

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