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1. The Trial
2. Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories
3. The Metamorphosis
4. The Castle (Oxford World's Classics)
5. The Metamorphosis: Literary Touchstone
6. The Metamorphosis and Other Stories
7. Franz Kafka ; The Trial / America
8. The Metamorphosis
9. Amerika
10. The Trial
11. The Diaries of Franz Kafka (Schocken
12. Amerika: The Man Who Disappeared
13. The Metamorphosis (Norton Critical
14. The Transformation (Metamorphosis)
15. Der Process (Erlauterungen und
16. Die Verwandlung (German Edition)
17. The Sons (Schocken Kafka Library)
18. Amerika: The Missing Person
19. Franz Kafka
20. The Metamorphosis Thrift Study

1. The Trial
by Franz Kafka
Paperback: 198 Pages (2010-11-04)
list price: US$6.87 -- used & new: US$6.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1936041448
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Written in 1914, The Trial is the terrifying tale of Josef K., a respectable bank officer who is suddenly arrested and must defend himself against a charge about which he can get no information. Kafka’s nightmare has resonated with chilling truth for generations of readers.Amazon.com Review
A terrifying psychological trip into the life of one Joseph K., anordinary man who wakes up one day to find himself accused of a crime he didnot commit, a crime whose nature is never revealed to him. Once arrested, heis released, but must report to court on a regular basis--an event thatproves maddening, as nothing is ever resolved. As he grows more uncertain ofhis fate, his personal life--including work at a bank and his relations withhis landlady and a young woman who lives next door--becomes increasinglyunpredictable. As K. tries to gain control, he succeeds only in acceleratinghis own excruciating downward spiral. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (174)

4-0 out of 5 stars Kafkaesque
If you want to understand what Kafkaesque means, this would be the book. What a bizarre paranoia the character in this book suffers. These are timeless and universal issues that man/woman faces. All you want is to sit and enjoy your breakfast, forgetting everything else, but you never had a chance. Something complex and vexing will inveriably snatch the plate from under your nose and leave you with cold bitter coffee and a growling stomach. This is Kafka to me, someone who reminds you of heartburn.A must read by a literary giant. I dropped one star however because the book was not finished and there is no rolling crescendo at the end. I hate that because I know he could have pulled it off.

4-0 out of 5 stars Nightmare or Paranoia or a Bad Trip for This Poor Dude?
I was delighted to be able to read and enjoy this classic; had put it off for years assuming it would be a tough readhowever it was anything but!
K., a young second-assistant bank manager in 1924 Germany (Berlin?), is innocent (?) but somehow accused of a crime that is never named, and becomes enmeshed in a completely frustrating absurdly non-functional judicial system.At times I was sure this story was K.'s nightmare, at other times a manifestation of his paranoia.Kafka's situations can run so absurd as to create an hilarious image.Some favorites: the painter pulling one after another of dusty duplicate paintings out from under his bed to pawn off on K; having to step on the painter's bed to get out the door; K. trying to discuss his case at the bedside of lawyer Huld while shrugging off Leni trying to secretly run her fingers through K's hair.
The writing is beautiful, capable of eliciting powerful images and a strong response: according to the wide variety of reviews...everything from loving it, the all-time favorite, reading it many times over the years, to hating it, being made depressed by it. I personally found it quite fascinating, and am curious to explore more about Kafka and his work.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great book!
The Trial is definitely the best book I have ever read! I keep coming back to The Trial, over and over again, it's a book you can read a thousand times, and never be sick of. Kafka brings you in to his world of confusion and angst through this amazing story. The words make you feel the way the main character, Josef K. feels, and enables you to imagine yourself in his situation. The Trial makes you think about your own life, and what "innocence" really means. I strongly recommend this book to any literature lover, Kafka lover - or anyone really. This is a book written by one of the most important authors of our history, a must-read.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Absurd, Haunting, Neurotic Masterpiece: Kafka's Best Fiction
The first sentence begins the novel: "Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning." If that doesn't do anything for you, stop right there. Do not attempt to read this book. It is not for you.

Already, there has been ad nauseum reviews on The Trial, so I will keep it quick. If you are in any way an anxious, surreal, apprehensive, warped, dark, absurd or existentialist personality you just might love this book so much that it will not leave your head and haunt you forever. The story is at once stripped down to its metaphysical frame with an independent fervor, and on the other hand, it could make every agent in Hollywood who ever wanted to get their hands on a Charlie Kaufman story (script) cream their pants.

I don't speak or read German (especially not Czech German), so I cannot compare it to its German Language Counterpart; however, I found Shocken Books translation to be quite easy to read with streamlined prose (which is quite a serious task to perform, considering Kafka's huge sentences), and was still able to enjoy the flourishes and unique approach that Kafka is known for as a prose writer.

5-0 out of 5 stars the system sucks
A must read for anyone that's had to deal with (DA's and defense) lawyers concerned more about their paycheck than actually implementing justice. The (Hapsburg?) machine Kafka describes is still in effect today: an assembly line mentality towards the accused, where their rights get whittled away in passive aggressive fashion. In The Castle, K is trying to make his way INTO society. In The Trial, he's being kicked in the opposite direction, OUT, the govt officials are attempting to dump him and flush him. A great anti-establishment novel. Very funny, very entertaining. ... Read more

2. Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories
by Franz Kafka
Paperback: 488 Pages (1995-11-14)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$5.93
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805210555
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Bringing together all of Kafka's stories including those released during his lifetime and others after his death, a complete anthology offers insight into his valuable literary contributions. Reprint.Amazon.com Review
How many writers get their own adjective? The work of thisterminally alienated master narrator of the subconscious demanded anew descriptor; I guess they gave up and just settled on "Kafkaesque."But if you ever wonder what the original Kafkaesque work was, take alook here. The book contains all of Kafka's short and longer stories-- everything but his three novels.Most of these stories weren'teven published during the author's lifetime.The widely-anthologizedThe Metamorphosis is here, wherein Gregor Samsa awakes fromuneasy dreams to find himself insectoidally transformed, as areequally lovely pieces like A Hunger Artist, A CountryDoctor and A Little Woman. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (48)

5-0 out of 5 stars Short stories = Fantastic
The fact that Kafka's 55 short works (many unfinished, some only a paragraph long, and some not published during his lifetime) are included in this volume make it invaluable.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not for everybody
Let it be known to all interested, that most of the stories in this collection are fragmentary, sometimes incomplete, and more often than not, extremely absurdist in nature. Actually, a lot are just simple parables, but more peculiar than average. I recommend this for all fans of Kafka. If you've never read him and buy this,it could be a gamble. As it turned out I liked him from line one, but that is hardly normal for everyone. Read a few of his shorter worksfirst (you can find a lot of his short stuff online) and then determine for yourself; most of his works have a similar feel and theme.

5-0 out of 5 stars good stories,
an under appreciated writer who knew what he was talking about it.

John Updike's introduction was one of the only things I read inside the contents.

John: the coming of something. The significance of a future, greater writer.

Well, there's what, two or three years, according to some sources, until the end of the world? def good 4the head.

SO mix in a little this, a little thas, a little thistlewood, a little thatsit,boys.
The point,
What is the point?
The point is the sharpest location. Everyone has a point. Some points stab.
What is a point?
A point is a joint down 31st street near toids and doinks. The popular vote may be popular now, but will
it tomorrow? Honestly, the tomorrows keep coming! Foilinque.
. . .Janet is searching right now for somrshething more than a point you know something better by ten
times five­four­three­two or any of those digits. Haly wedded to the source of the spring of freshly
brewed Arabian camel milk tastes like it was milked from a snake. Weusly, the snake departs.
It happens in a leisurll, virtuoely fashion. Not the east bit leastly am­bunk­shush.
...Lots of the scary stuff in there tonight. The not­so­pleasant AH!YOU'rerui ning my
MeDITAtioN!! Which is basically people stuff.

-Eschillion Key, published free online (google: Eschillion Key)

5-0 out of 5 stars Doesn't Get More Influential than this
This is the best of the best. Kafka is a lonely reclusive German man who sold insurance and wrote in his spare time. One of the most imaginative writers ever, and certainly one of the most influential. If you like anything written by Charlie Kaufman, he draws a lot of inspiration from Kafka. So do countless other writers. For the people who are unfamiliar, and maybe not open minded to Kafka it may be a strange experience. But, if you read his work ready for whatever is coming next, no matter how surreal, this will be an amazing experience.

3-0 out of 5 stars Nice Collection - Bad Binding
I am a long time fan of Kafka.I enjoyed seeing all of this work in one collection; however, I thought the quality of the actual physical book was well below average.If I buy a Kafka book, I want it to hold up so I can revisit it 6 months, 4 years, or 3 decades from now.Many paperbacks will provide that level of use, but I doubt this printing will. ... Read more

3. The Metamorphosis
by Franz Kafka
Paperback: 76 Pages (2010-10-18)
list price: US$6.95 -- used & new: US$6.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1936594005
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Often cited as one of the most influential works of short fiction of the 20th century, Metamorphosis is widely studied in colleges and universities across the western world. Nobel Peace Prize winner Elias Canetti described it as "one of the few great and perfect works of the poetic imagination written..." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

3-0 out of 5 stars Bizarre Tale
This story takes a bizarre look at a troubled man searching for his personal identity. He seems to be faced with a life of doom and gloom, especially when he begins turning into a bug!!! Even more bizarre is the relatively nonchalant way in which his family reacts. Definitely a good read considering how short it is, but I'm not convinced that I learned any great lesson or even understood the author's purpose. Perhaps the deep philosophical meaning was lost on me... Sometimes I feel like my brain is that of a cockroach!

4-0 out of 5 stars Kafka at his best
Franz Kafka followed no protocol or standards when it came to style and punctuation. However, his writing had a profound impact on Western Literature, and the Metamorphosis was his best! Hansa-Hewlett Publishing Company has just published a student edition of the Metamorphosis with a fresh translation true to the Bohemian-Jewish influenced German dialect used by Kafka. It also has additional materials relating to the possible meaning of the metamorphosis. The Metamorphosis

5-0 out of 5 stars Strange
This just might be the strangest book I have ever read.Mercifully it is a short one.It is a must read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Kafka at his best
Kafkas Metamorphosis is considered to be one of the most important works of fiction of the 20th century and rightfully so. Kafka describes a not so ordinary thing in skillful writing with simple words that are able to create a more than simple world. The Metamorphosis is without a doubt, one of Kakas best writing and a great opportunity to begin to learn about Kafka.

5-0 out of 5 stars Kafka and his protagonist
Since Kafka didn't have much of a decision about who he wanted to be or what he wanted to do, it is understandable why he might have created the character Gregor Samsa, who was working a job he never wished to pursue. Like Kafka, Gregor did what he had to do to please the family instead of what he himself wished. Kafka had the same sad situation as his protagonist, that of not being accepted for who he was by his family and the outside society. (From Source: [...]) ... Read more

4. The Castle (Oxford World's Classics)
by Franz Kafka
Paperback: 336 Pages (2009-07-26)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$8.12
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0199238286
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Kafka's last novel, The Castle is set in a remote village covered almost permanently in snow and dominated by a castle and its staff of dictatorial, sexually predatory bureaucrats. The novel breaks new ground in exploring the relation between the individual and power, asking why the villagers so readily submit to an authority which may exist only in their collective imagination. Published only after Kafka's death, The Castle appeared in the same decade as modernist masterpieces by Eliot, Joyce, Woolf, Mann and Proust, and is among the central works of modern literature. This new translation by prize-winning translator Anthea Bell follows the German text established by critical scholarship, and mentions manuscript variants in the notes. The detailed introduction by Ritchie Robertson, a leading Kafka scholar, explores the many meanings of this famously enigmatic novel, providing guidance without reducing the reader's freedom to make sense of this fascinating novel. In addition, the edition includes a Biographical Preface which places Kafka within the context of his time, plus an up-to-date bibliography and chronology of Kafka's life.Amazon.com Review
They are perhaps the most famous literary instructions neverfollowed: "Dearest Max, my last request: Everything I leavebehind me ... in the way of diaries, manuscripts, letters (my own andothers'), sketches, and so on, [is] to be burned unread...."Thankfully, MaxBrod did not honor his friend Franz Kafka's final wishes. Instead,he did everything within his power to ensure that Kafka's work wouldfind publication--including making some sweeping changes in theoriginal texts. Until recently, the world has known only Brod'sversion of Kafka, with its altered punctuation, word order, andchapter divisions. Restoring much of what had previously beenexpunged, as well as the fluid, oral quality of Kafka's originalGerman, Mark Harman's new translation of The Castle is a majorliterary event.

One of three unfinished novels left after Kafka'sdeath, The Castle is in many ways the writer's most enduringand influential work. In Harman's muscular translation, Kafka's textseems more modern than ever, the words tumbling over one another, thesentences separated only by commas. Harman's version also ends thesame way as Kafka's original manuscript--that is, in mid-sentence:"She held out her trembling hand to K. and had him sit downbeside her, she spoke with great difficulty, it was difficult tounderstand her, but what she said--." For anyone used to readingKafka in his artificially complete form, the effect is extraordinary;it is as if Kafka himself had just stepped from the room, leavingbehind him a work whose resolution is the more haunting for beingforever out of reach. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (80)

3-0 out of 5 stars Does Not Survive Translation and Passing of Time
Perhaps when it was first published in 1926, two years after the author's death, "The Castle" must have been seen as something wondrous and mythic, and readers must have had heated discussions over its meaning.In his introduction to the Everyman edition, the English critic Irving Howe discusses how this labyrinthe tale of a man named K. who's trying to find his place in the labyrinthe bureaucracy that is the Castle is a metaphor for the individual's religious alienation:K. relentlessly and desperately seeks to confirm his faith in God.I think that's a fair interpretation, but a more accurate interpretation would have been to take the author literally.Mr. Howe has never worked in a bureaucracy because he would at once recognize the inverted nonsensical logic, the instinctive mechanical fanatical devotion to detail and form and protocol, the perverse crushing of the human will and spirit, a nebulous and abstract and hidden overwhelming power to be the trademarks of a bureaucracy.

K. is a land surveyor who has been hired by the Castle, and when he arrives in a village to await his commission he is instead thrown into bureaucratic limbo.For the rest of the book (there's an endless debate as to when the book ends, if not that K.'s search and confusion never end) K tries to contact the Castle authorities, and confirm his professional identity.He is confounded at every turn, and is toyed with, even being forced to work as a janitor.If this sounds a bit too metaphysical, abstract, and somewhat pointless it's because the novel really is.

I felt like K., and I desperately tried to look for something concrete to hold onto and confirm my identity as a reader of something relevant and important.Where is this novel going?Is Kafka toying with me?Does this novel actually exist?The novel reads like a nightmare, and after struggling to finish it (I found myself skimming pages, a bad habit I try to avoid) I awoke to found the nightmare to be irrelevant and pointless.

4-0 out of 5 stars Last words of a dying man
This version, like the original manuscript, ends mid-sentence. Kafka was dying of tuberculosis. An infection secondary to TB developed in his throat, making eating too painful for him, and he died of starvation at a sanatorium near Vienna. A lot of the negative reviews here refer to how unfinished the book seems, or how morbid and dreary. And even good reviews emphasize the bureaucracy primarily as a symbol of social conditions. Kafka, a Czech Jew living through WW I, who had symptoms of hypochondria before he contracted TB, (which was often fatal in those times) spent many years convalescing. He was unable to earn a living to support himself, and virtually unknown as a writer, and probably thinking of death a lot, and his inability to make a living, or stay healthy, or find meaning in his short life. I find this biographical background essential to appreciating the Castle. I understand the bureaucracy of the castle to be a metaphor for illness, as well as for society, and existential angst. Please don't let anyone you know read the book (or review it!) without knowing his background.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wickedly funny with a touch of sorrow
I read The Trial several years ago, and I remember that I struggled with it and did not enjoy it nearly as much as I enjoyed Kafka's short works. So it was with some trepidation that I gave Kafka's novels another chance with The Castle.

Happily, I found it surprisingly absorbing. The Castle begins as if in a dream. K. wanders into a village on a cold winter`s evening, seeking a room for the night. He is quickly told that the authorities at the Castle do not allow strangers to pass the night. K. responds that he was summoned by the Castle; he is the new land surveyor. Is this true? Is it merely a ruse K. invents to secure shelter for the night? It does not matter. As in a dream, what K. says becomes, at least to K. himself, immediately true. Furthermore, taking up his position as land surveyor becomes a matter of prime importance and urgency. Yet he of course immediately encounters the chief problem of the Kafkaesque universe -- to reach the Castle he must navigate a system of rules that is as incomprehensible and senseless as it is uncompromising.

In the years since I last read Kafka, I had forgotten how bitingly funny he can be. The Castle is rich with satire and even slapstick-style comedy. Although this is often cited as an autobiographical work, Kafka allows little sympathy for his bewildered land surveyor. K.'s constant scheming, manipulations, and obsessive behavior are portrayed as ironically absurd and pathetic. Only in rare reflective moments could I feel the full impact of the tragedy of K.'s situation: that of the tenacious seeker left eternally in a dark, cold courtyard, hopefully waiting for an encounter that will never come.

This is not to say that I never found The Castle challenging to read. Kafka not only writes in long sentences, but he also writes paragraphs that can extend for many pages without a break. The tiresomeness and frustration of reading this style might add to the atmosphere of the novel, but it also makes voluntarily sticking with the book something of a test of will. The chore is not relieved by Kafka's plain, unexciting prose and tendency to ramble. In the end though, I was glad that I finally took the time to read this funny, frustrating, and ultimately sad work, and I am sorry that Kafka never finished it. This is not an easy read or terribly exciting plot-wise, but if you enjoy imaginative, absurdist situations and colorful characters The Castle is highly recommended.

4-0 out of 5 stars Subtle Narrative Interspersed with moments of Brilliance
The Castle is one of those rare works of fiction that one can choose to interpret however one sees fit. That being said, the central theme of the book seems to be bureaucracy - but not bureaucracy for bureaucracy's sake, but rather, how bureaucracy affects all the characters in the novel, chiefly the lone figure of K.
I read the novel as something of a commentary on modern life:
The main character K. arrives in a completely foreign village, knowing nothing of local custom or etiquette.
K. strives to do only one thing; begin work as a land surveyor, his chosen occupation. But In order to do so, he must appeal to officials at the castle.
K. quickly becomes the one being appeased, as the officials offer him a post in a completely unrelated field, he falls for a barmaid, and is inundated on all sides by local affairs - all the while never giving up on his dream, only becoming more weary and worn.
Could this possibly be social commentary on the absurdities of modern living, on the world we've built for ourselves? How it is exceedingly difficult, sometimes nearly impossible, to do the things which should be most simple - chiefly, doing what your want for a living and surviving by your own merit? A task made difficult through the fettering hands of authorities and our complete and utter dependence on them.
Kafka's narrative style is a little hard to digest at first - there are many passages that seem like run-on sentences, and many times characters venture complex, lengthy monologues in order to explain themselves and their situations - but upon cozying up, one eventually finds it endearing. There are also moments of profound insight that seem only all the more brilliant because of the somewhat "tedious" nature of the rest of the prose. I found myself marking passages. Throughout the work, an unreal, dreamlike quality persists, as if Kafka were himself writing in a trance.
Is the book good? Yes. Worth reading? Yes. Challenging at times? Yes. Ultimately rewarding - of course. Kafka manages to build a world full of such intriguing characters, with so many varied and competing self-interests, and an enduring, central, "underdog" character, that I couldn'g help wishing that the novel didn't end mid-sentence...I couldn't help longing for more.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not Worth it...
Because it's unfinished, it comes across more as a manuscript or rough draft than an actual novel. In The Metamorphasis and The Trial, Kafka focused on the main characters, but here he drones on and on about the ins and outs and the over all maze-like beaurocracy (sp?) of the castle. It gets redundant. And if that's not bad enough, a civil servant lectures the hero in full blown metafictional hogwash about the mechanics of castle politics for a whole chapter, while the hero, Josph K, is super tired, and just wants to fall asleep! I feel your pain, dude. The version i read had no ending and stopped mid sentence. ... Read more

5. The Metamorphosis: Literary Touchstone
by Franz Kafka
Paperback: 80 Pages (2005-03)
list price: US$3.99 -- used & new: US$9.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1580495818
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Beginning with one of the most shocking first sentences in all of literature, Franz Kafka details the horrific tale of an absurd life. Virtually imprisoned in his room, Gregor Samsa discovers that every aspect of his existence has amounted to nothing. Even the struggling, dysfunctional family he has sacrificed to support is thriving without his financial assistance. Slowly stripped of every bit of his humanity, Gregor realizes that no man’s life, especially his, actually matters.

First published in 1915, Kafka’s surreal novel about living in an indifferent universe has long been considered a seminal work of Existentialist literature.

All of the humor, zest, and richness of language—so often lost in other editions —resonate in this new and exciting Prestwick House Literary Touchstone translation by M. A. Roberts.

The Metamorphosis includes a glossary and reader’s notes to help the modern reader more fully appreciate Kafka’s complex approach to the human condition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Good literature
Kafka's masterpiece its a wonderful tale of sorrow and melancholy.
A theme of a coming of age and the interpersonal damages of a family cursed by the sudden change of their son.

Existentialism and surrealism at its finest.

I loved this book, and i particularly loved the indents where they explained the symbolism and details on the language and the translations Other wise i would have missed.

Literary touchstone hasmade this classic a better read for people of our generation

4-0 out of 5 stars Kafka's The Metamorphosis: A Must Read
This is a short, disturbing story that haunts the reader long after the book is closed. What is more horrifying, the opening of the story or its rather baffling conclusion? It depends on when you read it. At 13, when I first came across this short story in a collection of Victorian horror stories, I thought the opening was nothing short of brilliant. As the story progressed, I became more and more disenchanted until I reached what I thought was an unsatisfactory and ridiculous conclusion.

Thirty-five years later for my second go-around, I understand what makes this truly a horror story. I still stick with my teenaged impression of the story's opening pages: positively brilliant, ingenious! Now, however, I understand the ending, and it is far more disturbing. Without giving away the ending, Kafka puts his finger on how we treat people of certain populations (think senior citizens, for example) in modern society.

Read The Metamorphosis because by reading a classic such as this, you are expanding your mind, and you will encourage thinking in your day-to-day life -- this is a worthy endeavor on its own. You will surprise yourself by discovering that this classic, however disturbing, is eminently readable. You'll probably find this true of many classics.
The Metamorphosis
... Read more

6. The Metamorphosis and Other Stories (Oxford World's Classics)
by Franz Kafka, Ritchie Robertson
Paperback: 208 Pages (2009-07-26)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$7.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0199238553
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
It is one of the most memorable first lines in all of literature: "When Gregor Samsa woke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed into some kind of monstrous vermin." So begins Kafka's famous short story, The Metamorphosis. Kafka considered publishing it with two of the stories included here in a volume to be called Punishments. The Judgment explores an enigmatic power struggle between a father and son, while In the Penal Colony examines questions of power, justice, punishment, and the meaning of pain in a colonial setting. These three stories are flanked by two very different works. Meditation, the first book Kafka published, consists of light, whimsical, often poignant mood-pictures, while the autobiographical Letter to his Father analyzes his difficult relationship with his father in devastating detail. This new translation by Joyce Crick pays particular attention to the nuances of Kafka's style, and the Introduction and notes by Ritchie Robertson provide guidance to this most enigmatic and rewarding of writers. There is also a Biographical Preface, an up-to-date bibliography, and a chronology of Kafka's life. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (28)

1-0 out of 5 stars Kindle edition not the translation advertised
I'm sure you will be shocked to learn the Kindle edition is NOT the Michael Hofmann translation.Amazon, do a better job.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best translation ...
I compared three different translations of this book, and this one is my favorite. Hofmann has a sensitivity to Kafka that comes through in his translation.

I think part of the English-speaker's view of Kafka as a miserable, dejected writer in part comes from the dry translations of his work. But when you read his work translated and I'm sure Kafka would have meant (and which I believe Hofmann has done with this volume) then the undercurrent of amusement is apparent in Kafka's work.

As a little bonus, this Penguin edition has bits of a Kafka graphic novel on the flaps and back cover.

4-0 out of 5 stars Slim and Simple
Kafka is certainly not for everyone, that being said if you like Kafka or are new to his writing this is certainly a good volume to pick up.It includes some of his shorter pieces that are less well known (they weigh in at a little over or right at a paragraph in length) such as A Country Doctor and longer classics like The Metamorphosis.

The hardback with the thick weight of the paper makes this a volume you can keep for many years without fear of damage and overwear from rereading that can occur with paperback copies.The translation is wonderful and better than many that are available for purchase, the low price also makes this a fine addition to your home library without the worry that taking it off the shelf every now and then won't cover the cost.This collection of Kafka is worth every penny, if not a few more than Amazon is asking.

For those who have never read Kafka it is best not to spoil the authors work which is surreal in some cases, poignant in all, and entertaining in every light.If you have read Albert Camus or the sometimes acerbic but witty style of Louis Ferdinand Celine then this author is right up your alley.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent collection
I got the Kindle edition because I couldn't find "The Country Doctor" short story anywhere, and I'm glad it was made available in this collection. Kudos to Penguin for making a perfect Kindle edition, with linked table of contents and everything.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Cockroach Becomes Modern Man
Having never read any Kafka even in my late twenties, a professor of mine pointed out that he'd done a translation if I would be interested, and I was; I wasn't aware how much I was going to enjoy these stories, and the edition they're in is great for a number of reasons, but not without its flaws. Obviously I'm no Kafka scholar but, even having read no other versions, I can tell where the translation is weak.

First of all, the stories are all great. If you haven't read a Kafka collection, do yourself a favor. They're weird, funny, disturbing, horrified--but I was excited most by the presentation. The front and back covers are in a comic-book style that lends itself to Kafka's dark humor--the front cover shows a scene from the Metamorphosis and the back shows several scenes from a number of the smaller stories. These lend the stories a certain amount of delight that I think would have been otherwise absent because, as Hoffman's introduction points out, many people unfortunately assume that Kafka is an entirely serious writer.

Hoffman's translation is sometimes very good, and I always liked his sense of humor. Choosing to use words like "burbled" always adds to the character of a dark story. But sometimes I felt like the word choices were a little too precious. Most of the time Hoffman's word choices are very dry and direct, which he points out is important in Kafka. Sometimes, however, he goes off the deep end with words that maybe he couldn't resist that admittedly fit the tone but are so obscure most readers wouldn't recognize them. Why he chooses to refer to Gregor Samsa as a "cockroach" instead of just "beetle" really eludes me. Also, there seems to be an issue with comma splicing and semicolon use.

If you have read Kafka before, I don't know if buying this version will be worth it to you; but if you haven't, you should pick this up. ... Read more

7. Franz Kafka ; The Trial / America / In The Penal Settlement / Metamorphosis / The Castle / The Great Wall of China / Investigations of a Dog / Letter to his Father / The Diaries 1910-23
by Franz Kafka
 Hardcover: 925 Pages (1976-09-30)

Isbn: 0706405714
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8. The Metamorphosis
by Franz Kafka
Paperback: 96 Pages (2008-07-26)
list price: US$9.94 -- used & new: US$9.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1434101037
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The Metamorphosis, first published in 1915, is the most famous of Kafka's works, along with The Trial and The Castle. The story begins when a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, wakes up to find himself transformed into a giant insect. Curiously, his condition does not arouse surprise in his family, who merely despise it as an impending burden. As with all of Kafka's works, The Metamorphosis is open to a wide range of interpretations. Most obvious are themes relating to society's treatment of those who are different, the loneliness of isolation, and the absurdity of the human condition. Newly designed and typeset for easy reading by Boomer Books. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Metamorphosis
This is a great novel by an often not heard of author. It is short read that leaves you thinking afterwards. The metamorphosis has many layers that lie below the text. It is a book that scratches the human condition of wanting to be accepted. I read this novel for my first time with the advice of my co-worker and I am very happy I did so. Since reading this, I have read many other novels by Franz Kafka. I recommend this novel to anyone who likes to read novels that can be interpreted in different ways. If you are looking for a novel with a happy ending, you will not find it here.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting
This book is very interesting. It shows us who our true love ones are. This book is about a hardworker, who helps his parents, but when it is time for him to recieve help, no one does. This book shows that when faced with great dificulty only love ones standby you side. in this book, ths wasnt the case. Kafka shows us that even ones parents and siblings can turn on you when things get rough. I found this very interesting.

4-0 out of 5 stars Modern Life
* " Franz Kafka is known as one of the darker authors as far as material is concerned. However, the fact of the matter is that he is a brilliant portrayer of reality. The Metamorphosis is Kafka's most well known work in the United States. This may be because the overwhelming majority of the citizens in the U. S. are middle class citizens that labor simply to sustain themselves or maintain their life styles. Kafka uses Gregor Samsa to portray the life of a western style worker that is disintegrating. Kafka was trying to warn us all to be aware of what we work toward, less we become worse than the vermin of the earth, for even vermin have natural routines." - [...] tales from tim

5-0 out of 5 stars Not that bad
I have this book and I do not find the problems indicated by others. Franz Kafka did not follow acceptable standards in regard to German sentence structure or punctuation. Some of the complaints in regard to repeating words, etc., are in the original German manuscript. Franz Kafka had a great influence on Western Literature, and the Metamorphosis was his best work. A student edition of the Metamorphosis has been recently published, and it has additional materials which shed light on the meaning of the Metamorphosis. The Metamorphosis

5-0 out of 5 stars A treat for every reader
This is a book you have heard of, and you have probably heard that Kafka is weird or heavy; but what a surprise pleasure to read.An amazing science fiction story with a moral message.Lots of fun.I laughed so hard.Only problem was that it is too short. ... Read more

9. Amerika
by Franz Kafka
 Paperback: 336 Pages (1996-07-02)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$6.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805210644
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (31)

3-0 out of 5 stars Spend your time with Kafka elsewhere...
Look. If you're reading this review, you're more than likely to have read a bit of some good lit. You're here because you're searching for more. If you're here because you heard Kafka is amazing, great. If you haven't read Kafka, don't start here. Read the Trial and the Castle. If you have read all the essential Kafka, read something else. Pick up Blood Meridian or even read Dante, or please read Notes from the Underground. There's a lot better stuff out there than Amerika.


4-0 out of 5 stars Lost in Amerika
By the author's own admission, "Amerika" is a much more optimistic piece than Kafka's other works.Since Kafka was never able to finish this work, the reader is unable to read the final "happy ending" that the plot is leading toward fulfilling.Even without the afterword which alleges the eventual ending, the lack of angst and thinning sense of confusion point toward resolution.

After fathering a child in his teenage years, Karl Rossman is shipped to America to begin his life free of stigma.But getting off of the ship that brings him to America becomes a challenge that leads him to a wealthy family member in America.However, Karl's life of luxury is short-lived.After offending his uncle, he is cast out on his own.Falling in allegiance with a pair of out of work tramps, Karl hopes to start anew.Delamarche and Robinson continually take advantage of Karl's resources until work finds Karl.These two men cost Karl his job of stature and try to force him into the servitude of the obese singer that employs Robinson and Delamarche.We never learn how Karl escaped this predicament, but find Karl in the last chapter finding an apparently great opportunity in Oklahoma.

Since this is an unfinished work, there are some gaps in the story as pointed out in my review.Many have dismissed this work of Kafka as it does not fit the typical mold of his work.While the gaps in the story make it difficult for me to give this book five stars, I would recommend this book to fans of Kafka.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Kafka's "Amerika" was the first of his novels that I read following a survey of his short stories.It's a witty and charming book, even if the America Kafka presents is completely unlike any America I've ever heard of.Still, I didn't find it that engaging.I felt as if Karl, the main character, was something of a pinball, bouncing from one place and situation to another as a consequence of the seeminly random decisions of those around him.He spends an awful lot of time thinking and thinking and thinking, but in the end all his thoughts don't amount to much and he's kicked to the next event.

Also, please remember this is an unfinished novel!Unlike many of Kafka's unfinished stories, it doesn't cut off at any particular final point, it just sort of stops, and now I'm frustrated! ;-)

2-0 out of 5 stars They've all come to look for America....
Franz Kafka's 'Amerika' started off, to me, with a great premise, but in the end I found the tale less than entertaining.

Karl Rossman, a teenage boy shipped off to America by his parents following an 'indiscretion' with a servant girl, finds himself in the company of an American uncle, who quickly shuns him for accepting the hospitality of one of the uncle's friends.

Rossman then 'disappears' into the poor working class landscape of America, where he encounters many less than scrupulous characters.

Much of this novel is devoted to the this 'disappearance', though the action, to me, never quite moved along...and made the story quite stale to me...

While I have not read any other works by Franz Kafka, I hope that other novels were better paced and executed. His prose is enjoyable, just not very 'lively' in this offering.

4-0 out of 5 stars Amerika
Without ever having visited America, the German-speaking Czech author, Franz Kafka, wrote a novel based on research which included an autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, travel brochures, and the stories of Europeans who had traveled to America and returned to Europe. The result was the novel, Amerika, his unique and often very unrealistic interpretation of life in America. Amerika follows an almost sixteen-year-old boy through a series of experiences and adventures. Due to misbehavior at home, Karl Rossmann is sent by his parents to New York to live with his uncle in America . Kafka's skewed view of America is immediately demonstrated as Karl is greeted by the statue of liberty holding a raised sword. Karl meets many people and discovers a life quite different than any he has ever known in Europe. Karl meets his uncle and finds himself in the midst of people who are well-off in society. Later, on his own, he discovers a different side of American life. From houses the size of castles, to unfair treatment by his employer, to an out-of-control political rally, Karl is constantly surprised by America as he experiences many bizarre occurrences. Because Kafka did not finish Amerika, the reader is left disappointed in not knowing what happens to Karl, but also hopeful for Karl's future. This book is an interesting portrayal of America from the point of view of an early twentieth-century European who had never visited America. This makes the book intriguing.
... Read more

10. The Trial
by Franz Kafka
Paperback: 304 Pages (1999-05-25)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$5.74
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805209999
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Written in 1914, The Trial is one of the most important novels of the twentieth century: the terrifying tale of Josef K., a respectable bank officer who is suddenly and inexplicably arrested and must defend himself against a charge about which he can get no information. Whether read as an existential tale, a parable, or a prophecy of the excesses of modern bureaucracy wedded to the madness of totalitarianism, Kafka's nightmare has resonated with chilling truth for generations of readers. This new edition is based upon the work of an international team of experts who have restored the text, the sequence of chapters, and their division to create a version that is as close as possible to the way the author left it.

In his brilliant translation, Breon Mitchell masterfully reproduces the distinctive poetics of Kafka's prose, revealing a novel that is as full of energy and power as it was when it was first written.Amazon.com Review
The story of The Trial's publication is almost asfascinating as the novel itself. Kafka intended his parable ofalienation in a mysterious bureaucracy to be burned, along with therest of his diaries and manuscripts, after his death in 1924. Yet hisfriend Max Brod pressed forward to prepare The Trial and therest of his papers for publication. When the Nazis came to power,publication of Jewish writers such as Kafka was forbidden; Kafka'swritings, many of which have distinctively Jewish themes, did not finda broad audience until after World War II. (Hannah Arendt onceobserved that although "during his lifetime he could not make a decentliving, [Kafka] will now keep generations of intellectuals bothgainfully employed and well-fed.") Among the current crop of Kafkaheirs is Breon Mitchell, the translator of this edition of TheTrial. Rather than tidying up Kafka's unconventional grammar andpunctuation (as previous translators have done), Mitchell captures theloose, uneasy, even uncomfortable constructions of Kafka's originalstory. His translation technique is the only way to convey the comedyand confusion of this narrative, in which Josef K., "without havingdone anything truly wrong," is arrested, tried, convicted andexecuted--on a charge that is never disclosed to him. --MichaelJoseph Gross ... Read more

Customer Reviews (49)

5-0 out of 5 stars Analyses of Kafkas', "The Trial"
"The trial" is a deeply symbolic novel and opens with the protagonist Joseph K., being arrested by two warders followed by an interview with the inspector.Joseph K. is told that he is under arrest but is free to go about his daily duties.Throughout the first half of the novel, Joseph K. strives at all costs to comprehend why he has been arrested.Although all of his attempts to shed some light on his charges are unsuccessful, he still attempts to mount a defense...claiming innocence. Throughout the novel, the way in which Joseph K. handles his trial compounds his guilt and at the end of the novel he is executed by being stabbed.Throughout the novel, Kafka is ambiguous and leaves many open ends with respect to the point and meaning of the novel.Thus, several interpretations can be made with respect to the significance of the novel.However, focusing on the symbolism inherent in this text, it can be argued that Joseph K. represents every person living and working in modern society and that the trial represents a lifelong process that all humans must endure to some extent.Further, "The Law" represents the laws of nature, God and evil to which all humans are bound.Therefore, Joseph K, representing modern bureaucratic society, breaks "The Law's" of nature/humanity by being morally shallow, self-centered, and superficial and hence must face the trial.However, due to his own failing attempt of searching and finding what he was guilty of and blindly associating himself with innocence, his trial (life's journey of trial and error) was ended, and Joseph K. executed, symbolizing his ultimate fate of death and complete ignorance.
When the novel opens, the narrator explains how Joseph K. routinely receives his breakfast from the cook precisely at 8:00 am.However, there was an interruption to his routine that day.Instead of his breakfast, two guards showed up and after Joseph rang his breakfast bell, the warders notified him that he was under arrest.From that moment, Joseph attempted to find out why he was arrested and what he was being charged with.He stated that he had no knowledge of the law and the guards in reply took that statement as further evidence that he was indeed guilty.Following his arrest, he was instructed by the guards to dress up so that he could meet the investigator. Having met theinvestigator, Joseph K. realized that he would be equally unhelpful in clarifying why he had been arrested.However, the inspector notified him that he is free to go and return to his daily activities.This gesture symbolizes the need for Joseph K. (society), to focus in on themselves and realize how they have been living their lives and in this case leading it in the wrong direction.As a matter of fact, the court encourages Joseph K. to find out the reasons for his arrest. However, Joseph K. seems to be focusing more on his innocence than on what he has done wrong.In fact, when he appears for his interrogation at the courthouse, instead of attempting to find out what he has done wrong, he criticizes the court, the proceedings and states his innocence.Joseph K., is also easily distracted by small, meaningless details that surround him in daily life.However, rather than pay attention to the details that can help him solve his problem of guilt, he seems distracted by his observations.The inspector's charge that, "Joseph K. is insensitive to the nuances of his situation."This implies that the court is indeed encouraging Joseph to focus on detail, but once again, Joseph K.'s approach to the trial further compounds his problems and both approaches that Joseph uses to prove his innocence fail him as he should be searching for his guilt and is therefore not focused on the appropriate things.
As Joseph K. begins to mount a defense for his trial, he in no way has any idea what he is being charged with, or what he is guilty of .As a matter of fact, he remainsfocused on his innocence and doesn't even fathom what he could be guilty of.This represents his blindness to his situation.His (societies) defense should have focused on what wrongdoings were done and how they could be avoided in the future at all costs.Instead, the defense showed general stubbornness and apathy to "The Law," and just like the laws of nature in the world we live, in Kaska's, "The Trial," "The Law," is never wrong.Joseph K., while being interrogated at the courthouse, stated that he would fight the court not merely for himself but for all other's indicted.This line has several implications the first being that he is not the only one being accused.Therefore, even in the novel, Joseph is representing not only himself but also all others indicted.The major problem to his statement is that he is fighting an institution that cannot lose.He does not realize that the trial that is being held because he broke the law is a process that all humans must go through.Further, if he freely accepts his wrongdoings, he can in a way win, by being able to go on with life and better himself.However, he constantly chooses to fight the entire process and this leads to his downfall and eventual death.
Throughout the novel, Joseph K. comes across three women.The most important meeting is with his neighbor Frailein Burstner, who warns him to focus on his trial and is also present when he is being dragged to his death.Blindly, Joseph K. only wants to see her in a sexual manor and in the novel wildly kisses her on the lips and neck.This symbolizes his animalistic nature and immorality.Further, as Frailein gives Joseph the invaluable advice of focusing on his trial he only focuses on her and doesn't heed any attention to her warnings.The other two encounters with woman are purely sexual in nature.Joseph K. comes across his lawyer's assistant Leni who wants to be his mistress as well as everyone else's mistress, and the usher's wife also offers herself in a sexual way to Joseph.These latter two women again symbolize immorality.They function to take Joseph's attention off of his trial and what he has done wrong and instead attempt to lead him astray.
This novel can be interpreted in many ways.It is sometimes argued that "The Trial" is a satirical political novel, however, the fact that the defendant is allowed to rest before his interrogation and that he roams freely whilst arrested is a hint that this novel doesn't address the issues of a police state.Further, it can be interpreted as an existential piece that symbolizes the meaninglessness of life and what leads up to one's death.Similarly, it can be argued that this novel depicts the adventures of a paranoid schizophrenic.With the aforementioned analyses that could be attributed to "The Trial," one can imagine the loose ends that Kafka leaves for the reader.However, the symbolism of society, the laws of nature, and Joseph's eventual expulsion from the world seem a more valid argument.Therefore, throughout the entire novel, Joseph K. (society) focused on the wrong thing.When it was brought to Joseph's (societies) attention that he was to be arrested, he reacted by immediately identifying with innocence.This was the identity that made him and makes society feel comfortable.But, instead of claiming innocence, Joseph should have focused more on what "laws" he was breaking and not adhering too.In essence he and society were attempting to go against "The Law" of nature/God and when it was brought to his (societies) attention, he ignored where he had gone wrong and rather blindly focused on what he had NOT done wrong.Therefore Joseph K.'s reaction to his arrest and the way he handled his trial was his (societies) ultimate failure.If Joseph (society) would have abandoned immorality and admitted guilt at the "trial" of life and then turned his (societies) ways around, he (society) may have been allowed to live a meaningful life, rather than facing ultimate death.

4-0 out of 5 stars One man against the incontrovertible righteousness of the law
At times, reading Kafka is comparable to deciphering a Dali painting or viewing an art-house film; that's not to say Kafka's prose is particularly surreal, but rather, slightly detached from reality. There are moments throughout the trial when things border on the peculiar and even the absurd, but unlike, say, The Metamorphosis, he retains some semblance of plausibility here. Reading Kafka is almost like a sensation - much like that one gets well dreaming; although the dream is not reality, for the moments your asleep it SEEMS like reality.

What exactly is the meaning of The Trial? Like Kafka's The Castle, the central theme seems to be bureaucracy, but upon closer inspection the real focus is law. What exactly is law? Who enacts it, enforces it, violates it, and who pays for these violations? Can a man break the law unwittingly? I think what Kafka touches on here - and this is just my own personal analysis, as this novel is wide-open to interpretation - are the sometimes almost all-too-apparent hypocrisiesof law, foremost among them, the unquestionable infallibility of law itself. Many of the novels' characters ( perhaps all of them) are inexorably bound by the law - and to the court which enforces it - but not one character, with the exception of the protagonist, challenges or questions the nature of law itself. The more the main character Joseph K. struggles against the law and the charges laid against him, the less progress he makes, and the guiltier he becomes. It is a depressingly oppressive view of people and their place in the moral hierarchy of society.

Kafka refuses to pose the question directly: if man is fallible, and man enacted law, does that not make law fallible, or at the very least, flawed? One could argue that Jewish law is considered infallible, because it is the word of god, so Kafka shies away from such a dilemma. However, a simpler and more correct perspective would be that in Kafka's world, there is no hope, no question of escape. The law simply exists, much like how in The Castle, The Castle and it's subordinates exist, more or less as forces of nature, and to struggle against such forces would be an exercise in futility. This is the precursor to an Orwellian Dystopia.

That's not to say the novel is completely bleak - it contains bits of black humor, and the beginning is rather optimistic. But in Kafka's world, the man who struggles against the system has lost even before he has begun, and in this particular case, the man spends almost the whole of the tale figuring this out.

3-0 out of 5 stars Requires effort from the reader
The Trial was not an enjoyable read for me.The dense and surreal prose was arduous and while I can appreciate the effect of the writing and how the style added to the feeling of the scenes I did find it a struggle at times.Many of the scenes are dreamlike with bizarre and strange things happening.I found the bizarreness and randomness made for a heavy-going reading experience.

I'm sure I missed and didn't 'get' what others find so compelling about the book.I imagine that each of the characters that K. meets is an allegory of some element of culture or bureaucracy.I'm sure that if I had worked hard enough I could have found meaning to many of the strange events and characters.There are many interpretations to the book and different readers can find different meanings in the text.For me it was just too tedious to enjoy or want to think about.

It's also worth noting that the book was never completely finished by Kafka - one of the chapters is incomplete and it's uncertain whether Kafka actually intended other chapters to be written.He certainly never got to edit his work so it is rough round the edges as a consequence.

5-0 out of 5 stars the trial
K: wandering in a world where the ruling class
(hates humans)
encountering a paper trail
endless diversion,
w/ one exception:
A man with all the most high profile illuminati bloodlines inside him (St. Luke, Hesse, Bauer/Rothschild)
can make a deal, can release a viral map to
the solution to

The way this book ends:

Somebody is guarding the door but if you just wait around long enough
if you just keep waiting
if you just sit by that door
if you stare at that guard all night long and just sit
by that door,

(he will never let you go)

so I did what I could to slip one past the censors, (made a deal)

*(google: individuate church)

5-0 out of 5 stars Not a Plot Summary
I'm assuming that the other reviews have already given you a summary of the plot.

Why Should you read this book?

You will find some very deep and practical philosophy within the context of a novel containing long flowing sentences and paragraphs that can span page upon page leaving you gasping for breath as you take in the layered situations that Kafka, a true artist of existential inspiration, a creative mastermind of vague wordings with mutiple meanings, and a crafter of text that grows from page one into a twisted story, presents to you while you turn the pages of this engaging novel that will result in your reflection upon life and reality along with a greater interest for Kafka's other works which will lead you to more questions and little answers; this process will take you in circles until you may have found yourself and your own explanations that can serve your mind as you read Kafka, for Kafka's situations can be replaced by any situation or life experience, and in the end you will come to the end or middle of Kafka's last sentence and realize that the concluson or ending was not necessary, for the text is living wilst containing wise words waiting to be devoured. ... Read more

11. The Diaries of Franz Kafka (Schocken Classics Series)
by Franz Kafka
Paperback: 528 Pages (1988-10-30)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$10.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805209069
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
It is likely that these journals will be regarded as one of [Kafka's] major literary works; his life and personality were perfectly suited to the diary form, and in these pages he reveals what he customarily hid from the world." -- New Yorker

"What seems to hold [the diaries] together is a kind of ruthless honesty and self-awareness." -- New York Times

Though Franz Kafka is one of the greatest and most widely read and discussed authors of the twentieth century, and continues to be a tremendous influence on artists of our time, he remains an elusive figure, his life and work open to endless interpretation.

These diaries reveal the essential Kafka behind the enigmatic artist. Covering the period from 1910 to 1923, the year before Kafka's death at the age of forty, they provide a penetrating look into Kafka's world -- notes on life in Prague, accounts of his dreams, his feelings for the father he worshipped and for the woman he could not bring himself to marry, his sense of guilt and of being an outcast, and his struggles and triumphs in expressing himself as a writer.

Now, for the first time in this country, the complete diaries of Franz Kafka are available in one volume. They are not only indispensable to an understanding of Kafka the man and the artist, but are a compulsively readable, haunting account of a life of almost unbearable intensity. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Comic masterpiece
Yes, yes, I know it's odd to describe Kafka's writing as comic, but he really was one of the funniest writers of the Twentieth Century. His outlook on life reminds me so much of Charlie Chaplin's famous mantra that life is a tragedy in close up, in long shot it's a comedy. Kafka is loved by millions because he is the most universal writer of them all. High on the peaks of Twentieth Century literature features the brilliant stylistic prose of Nabokov, the pyrotechnics of Joyce, the pitch black comedy of Beckett, the sublime little observations of Proust. But right at the summit sits the unlikely figure of the wretched, kvetching tortured sick soul and body of Kafka, the world's greatest underdog. With these diaries chronicling his dreams, his awareness of the fragility of his physical body, his anguished relations with his family and friends, the daily nightmare of his office job and the time it stole from his creative pursuits, Kafka speaks for us all. For instance, a single paragraph sentence from 1913 reads:

I'll shut myself off from everyone to the point of insensibility. Make anenemy of everyone, speak to no one.

Now anyone who has ever been a teenager will feel a burning empathy with that sentiment!

Then some bits are brilliantly, nightmarishly extraordinary, like this musing, also from 1913:

To be pulled in through the ground-floor window of a house by a rope tied around one's neck and to be yanked up, bloody and ragged, through all the ceilings, furniture, walls, and attics, without consideration, as if by a person who is paying no attention, until the empty noose, dropping the last fragments of me when it breaks through the roof tiles, is seen on the roof

I read this part on a train, and snorted with laughter. Kafka is such a lovable tortured genius, carrying the weight of his misery around like an anvil on his back. Such a warped brilliant imagination.

Keep a copy of these diaries on your bedside table for those moments when you are fed up with the wretched pressures of the world, can't stand other people, and want to selfishly wallow like a pig in the mud of your own self pity. Priceless.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Writer's Writer
Franz Kafka's diaries were never meant to be published. Yet his diaries are spread across the internet, the actual published diaries translated into many languages and countless printings. These dairies are very personal, and the gentle Prague Jew would certainly be appalled.

Why do we continue to find these writings so fascinating?

Well, simply, they're terribly honest. Kafka never meant for these diary entries to be published, let alone read by another person. For those interested in the mechanics and soul of writing, Kafka's diaries are a source of true wonder. A confessional of a gentle soul, a man trapped in an insurance job, staying up through the night writing his heart-out, his thoughts, pains and acute observations of a time on the brink of great and terrible change, the death and cruelty of two world wars.

When reading Kafka, there is an overwhelming darkness, loneliness, a strong shadow that continually hovered around him, a "something" he tried to rid himself of through intense self reflection, which the reader of these diaries will discover.

Kafka's life story is, for the most part, a tragedy. A painful experience as one, sometimes, can feel his self consciousness, that subtle pain at the back of the neck, when, you know, you're being stared at...and his continued bad health.

I've attempted to read Kafka's diaries many times, and only now, for some reason, can withstand the pain of his perceptions, his precarious relationship with his father, and the few women he loved and the true love he never married.

Kafka is a man that loved writing for writing's sake, an artist who experimented daily, till dawn most nights, to pick up his little brief case and begin his work as an insurance lawyer in a semi-official insurance institute.

A strange yet moving entry:

21 February 1911
I live my life here as if I were entirely certain of a second life, as if for example I had entirely gotten over the failed time spent in Paris, since I will strive to return soon. Connected to this, the sight of the sharply divided light and shadow on the street paving.
For a moment I felt myself covered in armour.
How distant, for example, are the muscles of my arms

Kafka's writing was for the act itself without pretension or grandious dreams, (though his success during his 40 year lifetime was no disappointment) an act of instinct, pure and natural. Kafka is the true writer's writer.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Indispensable Kafka
Franz Kafka's 1910-23 diary entries are essential reading for anyone who seeks a better understanding of the author's literary world. This 1988 printing contains all the surviving Kafka diaries in one comprehensive volume. More revelatory than any biography, the diaries remain as compelling as his fictional work.

5-0 out of 5 stars I am now in love with Franz Kafka
The diaries reveal that Kafka was not only the one-dimensional character of the disturbed, alienated, and melancholic man that contemporary literary analysis presents him as, but a person with a complexity of feeling, humor, and distinct moments of happiness and joy.
The segment where he vacillates, through an organized list, as to whether he should marry his fiancé or not I found most enjoyable, and it is also fascinating to watch the diaries darken as Kafka ages, and to long for the unfinished fragments of stories and the gaps in narrative as he struggles against tuberculosis.
History claims that he was the prophetic bearer of images of totalitarianism and social suppression, but it is often forgotten that Kafka was also an ordinary man leading a rather ordinary, if not emotionally tempestuous, life.
These diaries are indispensable in understanding the underlying philosophy and thought behind his literary works, and in coming to know more intimately the author who created them, rather than relying upon a preconceived notion of Kafka as an isolated, miserable apparition.

5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible, Underrated.
The Diares of Franz Kafka reveal him to not just be the disturbing and clever author, but a genuine philosopher in his own right.Because he never published huge tomes of philosophy, he is completely overlooked.Kafka tends to address only himself in his diary, but he grapples with universal problems of the human condition.My copy of the Diaries is underlined, highlighted, and circled on almost every page.He puts into words, even in the translation, so many important and elegant ideas that have not been adequately expressed before or after him.If you have even the slightest interest in Kafka or philosophy, or alienation, buy this book.Buy two copies, in case you lose the first one. Once you've read it, you will not want to be without access to it, ever. Incredible. ... Read more

12. Amerika: The Man Who Disappeared (New Restored Text Translation)
by Franz Kafka
Paperback: 240 Pages (2004-05)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$7.21
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Asin: 0811215695
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Michael Hofmann's superb new translation of Franz Kafka's epic work.Franz Kafka's Amerika (The Man Who Disappeared) at last has the translator it deserves. Michael Hofmann's startlingly visceral and immediate translation revives Kafka's great comedy, and captures a new Kafka, free from Prague and loose in the new world, a Kafka shot through with light in this highly charged and enormously nuanced translation.

Kafka began the first of his three novels in 1911, but like the others, Amerika remained unfinished, and perhaps, as Klaus Mann suggested, "necessarily endless." Karl Rossman, the youthful hero of the novel, "a poor boy of seventeen," has been banished by his parents to America, following a scandal. There, with unquenchable optimism, he throws himself into adventure after misadventure, and experiences multiply as he makes his way into the heart of the country, to The Great Nature Theater of Oklahoma.

In creating this new translation, Hofmann, as he explains in his introduction, returned to the manuscript version of the book, restoring matters of substance and detail. Fragments which have never before been presented in English are now reinstated - including the book's original "ending." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Kafka in America

The life and times of young Karl Rossman as he comes to America. This book is often said to be un-Kafka like in that it is filled with people, places and lyrical descriptive prose, but -still-the only way I can think of to decribe the reading experience is 'Kafkaesque'! It is still drenched in Kafkas preoccupations;guilt through innocent misunderstanding or the machinations of unknown enemies;the way our lives are dominated and crushed by circumstances outside of our control.
This book is eminently readable,the slightly surreal nature of Karls experiences adding to the picture Kafka builds up of a man being swallowed up by life.
Unfinished,the book concludes somewhat disjointedly with Karl as a servant/slave,but the book includes the wonderful 'Theatre of Oklahoma' allegory-perhaps Kafkas and Europes dream of what America is or was.

5-0 out of 5 stars ignore the haters--this book is great!
this book is a delight from beginning to end. it's unfinished, but so are all of kafka's novels (and many of his stories). He was a divinely inspired dilettante, not a professional writer; his stuff should be read the way one reads chaotic, fragmented ancient texts like gilgamesh or the book of genesis, as opposed to polished, narratively coherent modern fiction.
Amerika is by far kafka's most cheerful book. it has his usual themes of elusive acceptance alternating with alienation, but it's quite silly and charming. it's full of absurd situations and odd details, such as perpetual strikers picketing in the streets, an impossibly complicated mechanical desk and a pair of straight-out-of-central-casting crooks. it's a wild european projection of what america was about at the dawn of the modern age.

4-0 out of 5 stars Basically, It Is Not a Great Kafka Novel, It is Terrible.
This is a new translation by Michael Hofmann along with an introduction by the same person plus extra unpublished fragments of text. Kafka did not like the book and was still doing re-writes when he died. Max Brode edited the final version, and Edwin Muir did the first translation in 1928. Hoffman refers to the books as Kafka's "Cinderella." I think it is the opposite: Kafka's dog, his worst work. One must feel slightly sorry for Hofmann. He does a good job but there is not much of a story here and it ends abruptly with no conclusion - seemingly in the middle of a paragraph.

Much better books are: The Metamorphosis, In The Penal Colony, and Other Stories: The Great Short Works of Franz Kafka" and "The Castle." His other longish novel "The Trial" is a bit disjointed and not as good as "The Castle." None of his novels are long.

Where and how does one start to discuss this incomplete and unsatisfactory novel edited after Kafka's death? It must be his worst - if we can even call it a Kafka novel. By the way, I am not a professor of literature, just a Kafka fan and I have read all of his works, or at least all those available on the market. I have read his short stories including - of course - the brilliant novella "Metamorphosis" and his two other novels: "The Trial" and "The Castle" and I read his collected short stories including "The Stoker."

One is a bit shocked to find that the first and best chapter in "Amerika" is in fact that short story "The Stoker." This chapter is by far the most interesting part of the book. That is a good story that stands on its own. After that we follow a very weak saga in which "K" has a girl friend - a maid - similar to his other two novels and has a series of not very interesting sub-stories. Unlike the other novels "K" has a name: Karl Rossman. Karl spirals down socially and mentally as in "The Castle" and in "The Trial" but more so. He never really gets out on his own and is left in some sort of intermediate zone among some very odd fellow travelers. In fairness to Kafka, perhaps it would have been more interesting and accurate technically if Kafka had finished the work.

There is little here to get excited about. The plot is weak, and it seems to take place in Austria not America. It is neither an American story nor a Kafka story. The police, for example, stop people and ask for their "papers" in the style of a European socialist country, while Kafka places Boston is across the bridge from Manhattan, and the characters use English money, not dollars. The hotel where "K" works seems very European. Obviously, he did very little background research work about America for the novel. There are no references to life in America or to any geographical locations that the reader might relate to. It is about three or four people, not a trip to America. Finally, the story seems to run out of steam after chapter 1.

In summary, the plot is weak, the story is weak, it is full of technical errors, and it is a couple of steps below his other works. It is far from the greatness and brilliance of "Metamorphosis," and it is far below "The Castle" as a novel.

4 stars is a generous rating. If you have read "The Stoker" you can skip this purchase.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good for the Initiated, but Read Kafka's Other Works First
Kafka never finished this novel--his first--and proceeded to write two of the best novels ever written in any language (The Castle and The Trial).Amerika seems, therefore, not to warrant much attention from the casual reader.Kafka's style, which is unrefined even in Kafka's greatest works, will seem downright coarse, almost as if Kafka never intended for anyone to read the novel.He didn't.

Long narrations, tortuous and confusing descriptive passages, and a dearth of action and plot characterize the novel, and may put off all but the most determined readers.Kafka offsets the novel's flaws, however, by constructing a captivating world for his protagonist, Karl Rossman, to inhabit.

The plot is easy to summarize:Karl Rossman is banished to America, and tries to secure a stable position for himself in his new homeland.Kafka's novel is a meditation on the ironies of liberty, autonomy, and status.He takes us inside Karl's mind to reveal the countless deliberations and reflections that lead to independent decisions, but the decisions never generate the desired outcomes in his new homeland.

Unaccustomed to freedom, Karl makes good, bad, and worse decisions, which direct him to experience the highest and lowest echelons of American society.He lives in a high-rise apartment, stands on a balcony amid skyscrapers, and reflects on the unfathomable network of commerce and traffic teeming below him.Conversely, Karl finds himself relegated to sleep on another high-rise balcony, as the servant of Karl's vagabond acquaintance and his fat mistress.

Somewhere in between, Karl works as an Elevator Attendant in a massive hotel, and continuously moves up and down between floors.Much as in the real present-day America, status is precarious in Kafka's novel.Karl's position rises and falls as quickly as the hotel elevators that he attends to, and he has little or no control over which direction he goes.Karl's destination is determined largely by the whims and preferences of others.

Kafka's brilliant meditations on the ironies of modern life are forward thinking and profound.Readers looking for an introduction to Kafka would be well served to start with the short stories or meditations, and to move along to the novels afterwards.I recommend this novel to anyone seeking a greater understanding of Kafka's works, but only if you've already read and liked his other work.

1-0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
This book is not very good, it is fantastical and epic in scope, but not in prose. The writing is very passive, and all the dialogue is inserted within discription, and it is very frustrating to get used to.
The story is also frustrating, I kept wanting to the main character to use his common sense and not get tricked by the evil characters, but he is too naive to do this.
Since Kafka never actually visited America, this book has an air of myth about it, the way people overseas may talked about America at the time. A place with riches and oppurutunites around every corner, but with just as many unjust people waiting to take advantage of you. ... Read more

13. The Metamorphosis (Norton Critical Editions)
by Franz Kafka
Paperback: 232 Pages (1996-02-17)
-- used & new: US$6.50
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Asin: 0393967972
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A novel about a man who finds himself transformed into a huge insect, and the effects of this change upon his life. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (153)

4-0 out of 5 stars Why should I fear when it is anxiety that fails to befriend me?
Kafka had the time so he made this story short. Gregor wakes up one morning morphed as a spider pretty much summarizes this novella but the interpretation of the author's angst is lenghty.For one, I think he is a spider because it is the most phobic of all creatures.But spiders eat insects not human food.Additionally, they move fast and do not schlep around the house. Judging from those two settings, he deemed human interaction is still an indispensable way of life.

Gregor, an itinerant salesman lives with his parents and his younger sister Grete.When his father's business closed down he assumes responsibility of the household.The stress of traveling and meeting certain sales quota agitate him one evening and he finds himself on the bed next morning unable to get up because his springy legs are not able to lift his body.Bewildered, the Samsa family could not believe their eyes when they see their breadwinner.Their fear of Gregor coupled with their concern of supporting themselves put the entire household in agonized fiasco.

A commendable classic, The Methamorphosis is a beneficial read for young adults.It is fun, imaginative, and undemanding to a young mind.Moreover, the book imparts on how to cope with unusual distress and its unexpectedness.

Presumably, Kafka suffered from clinical depression.Writing a bizarre story must have been his phantasmagoric way of dealing with it albeit there is unsettlement in wishing to be an arachnid to avoid social contact.

5-0 out of 5 stars So what does it mean?
There have been almost as many interpretations of The Metamorphosis as there have been readers.The fascinating thing, is the detachment and realism with which Kafka treats the story.One morning, a young man wakes up in bed to find himself transformed into a huge, vile, beetle-like insect.The rest of the story basically deals with Gregor's adaptation to his new state, and his family's reaction to it.That the story is told so matter-of-factly only adds to its power, and it allows readers to project their own interpretations.

The story is at times comic, sometimes horrifying, and quite often is even heartbreaking.Gregor is transformed into such a pathetic creature, yet his continued optimism and desire to connect with his family (and his formerly human self) in the face of his sad state is quite touching.

So what does it mean?I can certainly see many parallels to terminal illness in the story.A formerly healthy person is now confined to his room, unable to work or feed himself.He becomes a shell of his old self (literally).His condition is a constant weight pressing down over the household.His parents and sister do not really know how to act around this new changed (sick) version of Gregor, and there is a sense that they sometimes wish he would simply die, so they could be free from the pathetic creature now inhabiting Gregor's room.

However this interpretation is certainly not the only possible one.I encourage everyone to read this very short novella and decide for themselves what it all means.Regardless, it is a fascinating work that will stay with you long after you read it.

3-0 out of 5 stars A nice work, but...
A nice short story; it's only about 50 pages in this bantam classics edition with the rest of the 100+ pages devoted to critical essays and documents. This work is considered a masterpiece of the 20th century literature; this book and Kafka's other works have influenced the who's who of the literature world. However, I haven't really understood the reason for the magnitude of importance ascribed to this work. Vladimir Nabokov in his notes says, "If Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" strikes anyone as something more than an entomological fantasy, then I congratulate him on having joined the ranks of good and great readers.". It does strike me as more than an entomological fantasy, but I'm still missing something. Perhaps, there are more symbolisms to be uncovered, perhaps I need to read it a few more times, perhaps I need to understand Kafka's background better (I did read a bit about his relationship with his father), perhaps...?

5-0 out of 5 stars The term Kafka-esque takes on real meaning here
I read this originally long ago--back in college. I appreciated it then and found it a strong story. The term "Kafka-esque" took on real meaning for me after having read this. And that is where things stood for decades.

In response to a review of one set of Nabokov's collected critical essays, I purchased Nabokov's book). He had a chapter on this work, and it explored the family and its individual members in great detail. I came to see that my fleeting mmemory of Kafka's work needed to be addressed. Upon rereading, I found the work stronger still and appreciate the framing of the story by Nabokov.

Kafka's work remains, in my mind, still a classic. . . .

3-0 out of 5 stars OK
To start, I'm submitting this review for the sake of keeping my own record of what books I have read, what I generally rated them, and the impressions they had on me. If someone else reads my thoughts and thinks they are worth something, or perhaps it influences them into buying or not buying a book, that's great. But in general, I can't say that I'm writing this review in the light that some of these reviews have been written. This is not a critical essay of this classic book. It is my impression as it pertains to me, and to me in 2010 this is a 3 star book.

I picked up this book because I finished Kafka on the Shore not too long ago, as well as Brooklyn Follies which also tossed out Kafka references a few times. What better reason to finally grab this book that's been on my shelf for so long? While I'm not going to say it's a 3 or 5 or 4 star book, it just doesn't really do much for me. It's easy to read, and the commentary that the subject turned himself into a bug is clear, but really I don't see much more than that in this tale. I started to read some of the commentary on the text but I think that people in general overthink everything. Kafka himself said the bug was a bedbug, but the commentators want to argue with that notion, and that turns me off to every left field assessment they might throw out.

In any event, I believe this is more of an autobiography than a social commentary, especially since the room Kafka lived in at the time matches almost exactly that of Gregor Samsa. I think that's the truth of it. ... Read more

14. The Transformation (Metamorphosis) and Other Stories: Works Published During Kafka's Lifetime (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin)
by Franz Kafka
Paperback: 256 Pages (1995-03-01)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$4.98
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Asin: 0140184783
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A companion volume to "The Great Wall of China and Other Short Works", these new translations bring together the small proportion of Kafka's works that he thought worthy of publication. This volume contains his most famous story. "The Transformation", more popularly known as "Metamorphosis". Other works include "Meditation", a collection of his earlier studies; "The Judgement", written in a single night of frenzied creativity; "The Stoker", the first chapter of a novel set in America; and, "A Fasting Artist", a collection of stories written towards the end of Kafka's life. There is also a fascinating occasional piece, "The Aeroplanes at Brescia", Kafka's eye-witness account of an air display in 1909. Taken together, these stories reveal the breadth of Kafka's literary vision and the extraordinary imaginative depth of his thought. ... Read more

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5-0 out of 5 stars Suicide, Transformation Into a Bug, Torture: Standard Kafka Stuff
Woops, I gave away the plots!

This contains the best and most interesting short stories, including "The Stoker." Also, it has his best and most innovative work "Transformation" or "Metamorphosis." "The Stoker" became chapter one of his book "Amerika." It is a less traumatic and scarry story than most of Kafka's works - including most of the stories in the present collection. By the way, they are not all scarry or dark, but being "dark" is a Kafka theme running through many of his works.

The present book is a mixture of short and long works. The short works cover a huge range of subjects from very simple to gruesome. One has to be a little bit carefully in selecting a Kafka collection because not everyone is equal. Some are just 200 pages long. This is a bit longer.

The three main stories are dark stories - all in the Kafka tradition. Without giving away the plot details, some will find "The Penal Colony" a bit hard to digest. Similarly, The Judgement is a dark tale.

My favourites in this group are "Metamorphosis" and "The Stoker." After reading the latter book, I read Kafka's "Amerika" and felt a certain disappointment. "The Stoker" is the best part of that longer novel "Amerika."

Anyone reading this book should follow up and read one of Kafka's longer works to obtain a better overall understanding of his writings. I thought that "The Castle" was his best novel and themost interesting work, followed by the unfinished and more complicated "The Trial." His other novel "Amerika" is far behind the other two, and if you read "The Stoker" there is no need to waste time reading that novel.

3-0 out of 5 stars The works of Kafka published in his lifetime
This volume contains the works of Kafka published in his lifetime: The Metamorphosis, Meditation, The Stoker, The Judgment, The Hunger(Fasting)Artist, Airplanes of Brescia.
One of the pieces, the Metamorphosis (In this volume called ,"Transformation") is one of Kafka's most famous work. Gregor Samsa who woke one day to discover himself to be a crawling creature, and whose plight as insect is taken to be the family situation of Kafka is one of the major characters of twentieth - century Literature.
Kafka disturbs, and brings us to a level of fear and anxiety perhaps no other writer can. How he does this with sentences of incredible beauty is both chilling and mysterious.
His work is parabolic, symbolic and seems to suggest to us more about the imprisoned and lost situation of Mankind than we would somehow really like to know.
Perhaps reading him is notfor everyone.
But for those ready to bear the uncanny weight of literary beauty this is the answer. ... Read more

15. Der Process (Erlauterungen und Dokumente) (German Edition)
by Franz Kafka
Paperback: 223 Pages (1993)
-- used & new: US$6.18
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Asin: 3150081971
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16. Die Verwandlung (German Edition)
by Franz Kafka
Paperback: 60 Pages (2008-11-12)
list price: US$9.90 -- used & new: US$6.10
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Asin: 1406876259
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Erstmals herausgegeben im Jahre 1917. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars just like the description
book came just as it was described.It was written in and in less-than-perfect condition, but it was reported as being so.No surprises.I just needed the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars definitely worth the effort of reading the original
I think many people have read one or another English translation of this work.
However, if you have any knowledge of German, it is worth slogging your
way through the original.The writing is fluid, and it is really the fact that
such a otherworldly occurrence is captured through the strangely mundane
reactions and concerns of an ordinary family that makes this such an
extraordinary piece.I think it is pretty difficult to capture this tone in
a translation.

4-0 out of 5 stars Classic 20th century German literature
Bleak tale about isolation, told through the story about a boy who changes into an insect. This was mandatory stuff in highschool days, but that was ok in this case, because it's good.

5-0 out of 5 stars excellent
Kafka is brilliant, as most anyone who reads this book will soon realize. He dealves into different ranges such as the Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah). Possibly a little far out there due to his style for some, but I doubt it. The English translation is required reading in my IB school, but the germanversion (recommended by my Austrian teacher) was even better. One can delvedeeper into the metaphor through the feelings behind every word and phrase.Kafka, like many Jews and people of that era, was the victim of severeisolation. Die Verwandlung portrays this feeling perfectly. This is barnone one of the best pieces of literature I have ever picked up.

3-0 out of 5 stars Depends on what you like
Now this is really a strange book. As I'm German this was on the "to read" list in school. But to be true I enjoyed this story of a boy who finds himself transformed to an Insect. You certainly think that this bookwas written by a lunatic. But that is also where the fascination lies. I'dsay read and see for yourselves! ... Read more

17. The Sons (Schocken Kafka Library)
by Franz Kafka
Paperback: 192 Pages (1989-08-05)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$5.99
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Asin: 0805208860
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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I have only one request," Kafka wrote to his publisher Kurt Wolff in 1913. "'The Stoker,' 'The Metamorphosis,' and 'The Judgment' belong together, both inwardly and outwardly. There is an obvious connection among the three, and, even more important, a secret one, for which reason I would be reluctant to forego the chance of having them published together in a book, which might be called The Sons."

Seventy-five years later, Kafka's request is-granted, in a volume including these three classic stories of filial revolt as well as his own poignant "Letter to His Father," another "son story" located between fiction and autobiography. A devastating indictment of the modern family, The Sons represents Kafka's most concentrated literary achievement as well as the story of his own domestic tragedy.

Grouped together under this new title and in newly revised translations, these texts -- the like of which Kafka had never written before and (as he claimed at the end of his life) would never again equal -- take on fresh, compelling meaning. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars A tragic, fragmented portrait of a troubled relationship
At one point in his career, Kafka made a request of his publisher that three of his stories be published together in a single volume, citing "an obvious connection among the three, and, even more important, a secret one."The publisher did not honor this request in Kafka's lifetime, but Schocken Books has since made Kafka's envisioned volume a reality, including use of Kafka's suggested title: The Sons.

The first story is "The Judgment," where a dutiful son contentedly looks after his feeble, aged father and prepares for his wedding... until a bout of nearly incomprehensible guilt utterly alters the relationship and the son's plans.Next is "The Stoker," the short story that is also the first chapter in the unfinished novel Amerika.Here a rejected, homesick youth temporarily finds a replacement for the father he has left behind in Europe.Rounding out Kafka's trio is his famed piece "The Metamorphosis," where Gregor Samsa awakens to find he has transformed into a giant insect, a situation that he regards with a surreal and comical lack of amazement, but which causes great consternation for his dependent parents and sister.The stories are, of course, excellent.More tightly written and polished than the fragmentary novels Kafka left behind, they highlight Kafka's taste for absurdity in the midst of banality and his characteristic injection of sly humor into scenarios that are sad or nightmarish from the characters' perspectives.

The editors of The Sons included one final piece, a piece that was not in Kafka's request to his publisher.Indeed, this piece was among the personal papers that Kafka asked to have burned unread after his death.It is Kafka's "Letter to His Father."Written when Kafka was thirty-six years old, the lengthy letter endeavors to answer his father's question of "...why I maintain I am afraid of you."Stripped of the playfulness of Kafka's fiction, the letter is like a dash of cold water in the face - both painful and clarifying.Suddenly the bizarre behavior of the sons in the preceding stories, their ingratiating, slavish devotion to fathers who reward them with rejection, intimidation, and violence, becomes more comprehensible as one reads the naked railings of Kafka to the father he both admired and feared.I've seen this letter dismissed as being unrealistic:objectively, Hermann Kafka was not a violent monster.This misses the point.This is not an objective assessment of the complex relationship between a parent and child.This is the desperate plea for understanding from a wounded adult child, speaking bluntly and truthfully about his subjective experience of the relationship.It is the tragic story of a clash of personalities; of a timid, sensitive child overwhelmed by a vigorous, aggressive parent.That the parent was likely well-intentioned and never understood the injurious affect he had on his son does not change the son's experience.Even more tragically, the letter makes it clear that even at the age of thirty-six, Franz Kafka still on some level perceived himself as a scrawny little boy, disappearing in the shadow of his strong father.Speaking from my own personal experience, I will warn you that if you've had any similar issues with your own parents, reading this letter will likely activate some painful emotions, but it can also provide a sense of catharsis.

Any of the individual stories in this brief collection is a worthwhile read on its own.Together they pack a powerful punch.I do advise keeping the publisher's order and saving reading the "Letter" for after reading the fiction.Enjoy the stories and see what you get out of them.Then read the letter, and perhaps revisit the stories, and see if you have a new perspective on Kafka's multilayered literary creations.

5-0 out of 5 stars Overbearing businessman father Herman anxious sensitive artist Franz
The three stories and one long letter which constitute this volume center on the relationship between father and son. Father Hermann Kafka was a successful powerful businessman. Son Franz was an at times- sickly- tubercular supremely anxious sensitive- artistic son. The father intimidated, humiliated and made feel guilty the son. The son disappointed the father. The son however understood both the father and himself. And in the remarkable long- letter here, certainly one of the finest in world- literature, Franz unravels and understands this relationship as key to his own identity. He sees it as key to his failure to master adult life. The story ' The Judgment' is one of the most important in the Kafka canon. In one sense in the one long sitting in which Kafka created it he felt he had found himself as a writer. 'The Metamorphisis' that story of Gregor Samsa 's transformation from human to insect too exemplifies the theme of the son crushed within the walls of his own family home. No one ever wrote of anxiety and fear in the presence of a great inimimitable power with the beauty and lucidity of Kafka.
The father was on a small scale a 'big local businessman'. The son was on any scale one of the great literary creators of mankind. This work is evidence of that.

5-0 out of 5 stars Daddy Dislikes My Diet
What happens when one imposes meat-eating on the other? What happens when the one doing the imposing happens to be your own father? And what happens when such carno-terrorism--to borrow from Jacques Derrida--becomes allegorical, representative of an inability to speak? In "Letter to His Father," Franz Kafka (a self-championing vegetarain harboring something akin to a body dismorphic disorder) coughs up a catalog of paternally-driven injustices and imagines a gastronomic utopia inimical to Daddy's sadistic table regime. Often overlooked, "The Letter to His Father" belongs right up there with Kafka's other canonized marvels. Go ahead and chew on it for a while.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Letter to my Father
A Letter to my Father by Franz Kafka is a look into the mind of one of the most talented (but also unhappy) writers of the 20th century. It's a very personal account of the relationship between Kafka & his father, hisstrong, controling, tough father who was the main figure who influencedKafka's life & way of thinking. Franz Kafka talks with great pain inthis 'letter' about his childhood years & how his father controlledeveryone in the household, how the writer's own personality was shaped& molded by this one relationship. After reading this letter, thereader is closer to understanding the person that wrote"Metamorphosis" & "The Judgment". ... Read more

18. Amerika: The Missing Person
by Franz Kafka
Hardcover: 336 Pages (2008-11-18)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$2.75
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Asin: 0805242112
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Franz Kafka's diaries and letters suggest that his fascination with America grew out of a desire to break away from his native Prague, even if only in his imagination.Kafka died before he could finish what he like to call his "American novel,: but he clearly entitled it Der Verschollene ("The Missing Person") in a letter to his fiancee, Felice Bauer, in 1912.Kafka began writing the novel that fall and wrote until the last completed chapter in 1914, but in wasn't until 1927, three years after his death, that Amerika--the title that Kafka's friend and literary executor Max Brod gave his edited version of the unfinished manuscript--was published in Germany by Kurt Wolff Verlag.An English translation by Willa and Edwin Muir was published in Great Britain in 1932 and in the United States in 1946.

Over the last thirty years, an international team of Kafka scholars has been working on German-language critical editions of all of Kafka's writings, going back to the original manuscripts and notes, correcting transcription errors, and removing Brod's editorial and stylistic interventions to create texts that are as close as possible to the way the author left them.

With the same expert balance of precision and nuance that marked his award-winning translation of The Castle, Mark Harman now restores the humor ad particularity of language in his translation of the critical edition of Der Verschollene.Here is the story of young Karl Rossman, who, following an incident involving a housemaid, is banished by his parents to America.With unquenchable optimism and in the company of two comic-sinister companions, he throws himself into misadventure, eventually heading towards Oklahoma, where a career in the theater beckons.Though we can never know how Kafka planned to end the novel, Harman's superb translation allows us to appreciate, as closely as possible, what Kafka did commit to the page. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars The finished masterpiece
Although considered by many to have been left unfinished by the author, it is unclear why such a conclusion should prevail. This is the touching story of an innocent, "the missing person", who progresses through a series of exiles, each taking the protagonist into stranger and crueler surroundings, and with each the protagonist becoming more distant, more... missing... until, at last (and truly this is not giving away any critical plot line), he joins the Theater of Oklahoma, where absolutely everyone is welcome: a neater and more fitting finale there could not be. Each episode with its own cast of unique characters, captured beautifully in this translation that renders both the humor and sadness, the brutal reality and dreamy implausibility, the impossible simultaneity of levels which is Kafka's genius without equal. But in this book, composed in his youth, we see the author perhaps at his warmest, his healthiest, depicting what may be the quintessential American experience.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Addition
Mark Harman's new translation of Kafka's 'Amerika' is both stark and nuanced. This is an invaluable supplement to the body of work that constitutes Kafka's work in that it includes numerous fragments and variations. 'Amerika' is the product of Kafka's fierce imagination-he has thrown Karl Rossmann into a real though still surrealistic environment where the stark realities of modern life are as real and oppressive as they are in our nightmares. After being thrown out by his uncle, Rossmann is forced to become an elevator attendant at a hotel, where he is cast into the arbitrary world of labor and servitude. This is a neglected masterpiece from the great Kafka. Harman has produced an accomplished translation of a deeply perplexing and vibrant text. ... Read more

19. Franz Kafka
by Max Brod
Paperback: 296 Pages (1995-08-22)
list price: US$17.50 -- used & new: US$8.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0306806703
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Max Brod, a successful novelist, was a boyhood companion of Kafka's and remained closely tied to him until Kafka's death in 1924. He was undoubtedly the one man whom Kafka trusted more than any other, and it is to Brod, as his literary executor and editor, that we are indebted for rescuing and bringing to light Kafka's work. Out of a lifelong devoted friendship, Brod drew this account of Kafka's youth, family and friends, his struggle to recognize himself as a writer, his sickness, and his last days. Franz Kafka gives us not only a more vivid and lifelike picture of Kafka than that painted by any of his contemporaries, but also a fascinating portrayal of the complicated interaction between two writers of different temperaments but similar backgrounds who together helped shape the future of twentieth-century literature.
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Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars Intimate Portrait
Blessed with the gifts of an outstanding writer in his own right, this brief biography of Kafka from Max Brod spares you the tedious minutia that weigh down most literary biographies. What you are left with is a deeply personal and truly felt picture of a friend who sacrificed himself for his art. Kafka comes across here as a saintly martyr for literature and art-a suffering genius who found salvation and meaning in his work. Yet Brod is careful not to paint too dark of a picture; he is attuned to Kafka's tremendous humor and satirical wit. In short, he was a man sensitive to the pain and absurdity of the human condition, in all its beauty and pain. An outstanding portrait of this cutting edge artist who wrote for the crickets and is now secure in the literary pantheon.

5-0 out of 5 stars Left behind he tells the story of a wounded soul
Max Brod was Kafka's best friend. Kafka willed his writing to the flames and Brod rescued them, and helped make them known to the world.
Brod was a writer of considerable accomplishment and output yet to his great credit he recognized that it was Kafka who was the great genius who mankind would come to reread and reread.
The biography tells the story of Kafka's difficult quest to live and write. It contains much of what Kafka reportedly said and is thus rich in his own unique voice.
It is not the most comprehensive nor the authoritative biography but it is the first and most influential .And it is the one which helped save the name , and give the work of this great genius to the world.

4-0 out of 5 stars Written before he was so famous
Those of us who feel that Mozart might have been right, when he complained to his father about having to give music lessons for enough money to live, will find Max Brod entirely on our side in FRANZ KAFKA, A BIOGRAPHY, when it comes to "Philistines who are of the opinion that it is enough if genius has `a few hours free'--they don't understand that all the available hours barely suffice to guarantee to an even tolerably uninterrupted ebb and flow of inspiration and repose its right and proper far-flung arc of oscillation."(pp. 88-89).Kafka obtained a doctorate in jurisprudence on July 18, 1906, did a year of unpaid practice in the law courts typical for those who intend to be called to the bar, and tried to find a job with office hours that would be through at 2 p.m. each day.In July 1908, he began working at the Workers' Accident Insurance Institute for the Kingdom of Bohemia in Prague.Work is tiring, so "Kafka tried sleeping in the afternoon and writing at night.That always went all right for a certain length of time, but he was not getting his proper sleep."(p. 80).With television providing entertainment at all hours, and people eating enough to produce sleep apnea to wake them constantly for another gasp of breath after we are too fat to sleep normally, it is not surprising that people find themselves in a state of mind which matches whatever Kafka was writing.

I checked a few biographies to see how much emphasis had been given to Kafka's work on the job, since reading recently in a book by Peter Drucker that Kafka does not get enough credit for requiring people in the presence of falling objects to wear safety helmets.Max Brod had been a friend of Kafka in school, and worked for years in the post office while writing a book, so he was doubly aware of Kafka's attitude toward his work, because he allowed Kafka's feelings to determine his own occupation until he could no longer stand "Suffering that has been raised to a degree that can only be described as fantastic."(p. 81).Brod quotes a letter in which Kafka's attempt to describe his work is comical.

"people fall, as if they were drunk, off scaffolds and into machines, all the planks tip up, there are landslides everywhere, all the ladders slip, everything one puts up falls down and what one puts down one falls over oneself."(p. 87).When he was appointed a drafting clerk, all the new clerks had to listen to a member of the Board, who had "given them a talk which was so solemn, and so full of fatherly sanctimoniousness, that he (Franz) had suddenly burst out laughing, and couldn't stop.I helped the inconsolable Franz to write a letter of apology to the high official."(p. 87).

By December 28, 1911, Kafka complains in his diary that, due to his family's share in a factory "they made me promise to work there in the afternoons!"(pp. 89-90).Max Brod thinks this mess is responsible for "his later absorption into the world of sorrows that finally led to his illness and death. . . . but the disaster was essentially caused by the fact that a man so tremendously richly gifted, with such a rich creative urge, was forced just at the time when his youthful strength was unfolding himself, to work day in and day out to the point of exhaustion, doing things which inwardly didn't interest him in the least."(p. 91).This must be my favorite theme, in all of literature, that people are kept so busy, they would have to be fools to take the time to see what anyone else is doing.Kafka wanted to be able to depend on others "to keep everything running in the same good order as usual; for after all, we are men, not thieves."(pp. 91-92).This biography is written with the greatest friendly involvement in the life and death issues of its subject.At the end, concerning a medical report on July 14, 1908, "that Kafka, because of his affected nerves and `great cardiac irritability' had to give up his position" (p. 248) it was only to be considered an excuse "to transfer to the semi-government Accident Insurance Institute, where the work was considerably easier."(p. 248).

This biography will be most meaningful to those who are familiar with Kafka's writings.Many further items are also available."Kafka's letters to Milena, her letters to me, and Janouch's recollections provide indispensable documentation for the period of Kafka's life in which THE CASTLE was being composed--documentation which is all the more important because Kafka's diary stops completely during the writing of the novel, and is relatively meager for the few years he had yet to live."(pp. 221-222).

Chapter VII, The Last Years, has the beginning of Kafka's friendship with Dora Dymant in the summer of 1923.At the end of July he left Prague to live with her in Berlin, published four stories and used the title, "A Hunger Artist" for the collection.On March 17, 1924, Brod brought Kafka back to Prague to live with his father and mother again.(p. 203).Taken to a Vienna clinic, Kafka was then "transferred at the end of April" (p. 204) to a sanatorium, where, "cared for in every way by his two faithful friends, Kafka spent the last weeks of his life--so far as the pains he suffered allowed it, patiently and cheerfully."(p. 205).

This famous biography was written in 1937.Appendixes include a chronological table which ends, 1952, Death of Dora in London (August).A postscript (p. 213) at the end of Chapter VII reveals that the first German edition ended at that point.Chapter VIII, New Aspects of Kafka, includes "we are faced with the inevitable distortion of his image."(p. 215).

4-0 out of 5 stars Kafka's friend and biographer offers much insight
This biography lets you on the inside of not only a great writer but on the inside of a close friendship between two writers and friends. It's written in a rather relaxed way, the way only good friends can be with one another. I read a biography on Kafka many years ago and it left me a bit indifferent about Kafka. This biography lets you feel the warmth and exuberance of the man, the everyday of this extraordinary writer. You can almost imagine yourself in his childhood home, meeting the family, understanding how Kafka became Kafka, how the seeds for his stories were planted and evolved. This biography had all the intimacy of an autobiography. Anyone who would like to know the tender underside of the beast, this is the biography you're looking for.

4-0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive,enlightening portrayal of Kafka.
When one considers Kafka has had so much influence on literature that the word "Kafkaesque" was invented to describe his thoughts and effects on us (how many writers can claim their "own word"!),itis surprising that only three notable biographies on him exist. This one isby a man who knew Kafka closely for the last half of his life.When they metKafka was 19, he died one month short of his 41st birthday.The author'sreverence makes the reader become passionately attached to the subjects ofKafka's inner feelings; his reserved,taciturn approach to people, hisobsession with pure thoughts, his sensitivity to noise, his devotion to thethe earth,its humans,animals and plants.Even now, three quarters of acentury later, the reader feels the exasperation, the frustration, thetorment Kafka suffered under his materialistic, social climbing father whodominated and eventually ruined his son. The book cannot be calledlively,Kafka's lifestyle was not frolicsome. However, it is never dull. Hisclandestine trysts with the sleazier side of Prague nightlife takes thereader by surprise.Then comes Brod's stunner of a revelation only unearthedin 1948, twenty-four years after Kafka's death.??? The last quarter of thebook is the best.Intense and sorrowful, just as Kafka would have wanted it.For those looking for the intellectual side of Kafka the book offersinsights into his appreciation of Goethe (his idol),Thomas Mann, Flaubertand Dickens, among many others. Brod's ace is his ability to quote thesensitive Kafka; viewing the fish at a Berlin aquarium after Kafka becamean ardent vegetarian he is quoted, "Now I can at last look at you inpeace,I don't eat you anymore". Also his reverence for all life aswhen a nurse placed flowers near his deathbed," One must take carethat the lowest flowers over there, where they have been crushed into thevases, don't suffer. How can one do that? Perhaps bowls are really thebest." And then the "humorous" Kafka on hearing that he hadTB," My head has made an appointment with my lungs behind myback." When Kafka died tragically young he joined the likes of theRomantics Byron (36),Shelley (29) and Keats (25) as a group who haddedicated their lives to the betterment of mankind and had all died whenlife should have just been beginning. As with the Romantics,one is leftwondering what Kafka would have achieved given another forty years. Onewill never know, but for an interesting observation of his 40years,"Franz Kafka-A Biography" is the book. ... Read more

20. The Metamorphosis Thrift Study Edition
by Franz Kafka
Paperback: 120 Pages (2009-08-03)
list price: US$4.95 -- used & new: US$2.28
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0486475719
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

Includes the unabridged text of Kafka's classic novella plus a complete study guide that helps readers gain a thorough understanding of the work's content and context. The comprehensive guide includes chapter-by-chapter summaries, explanations and discussions of the plot, question-and-answer sections, author biography, analytical paper topics, list of characters, bibliography, and more.
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