Franz Kafka spent eight months at his sister's house in Zürau between September 1917 and April 1918, enduring the onset of tuberculosis. Illness paradoxically set him free to write, in a series of philosophical fragments, his settling of accounts with life, marriage, his family, guilt and man's condition. These aphorisms have appeared with minor revisions in various posthumous works since his death in 1924. By chance, Roberto Calasso rediscovered Kafka's two original notebooks in Oxford's Bodleian Library. The notebooks, freshly translated and laid out as Kafka intended, are a distillation of Kafka at his most powerful and enigmatic. This lost jewel provides the reader with a fresh perspective on the work of a genius.
Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was born into a Jewish family in Prague. In 1906 he received a doctorate in jurisprudence, and for many years he worked a tedious job as a civil service lawyer investigating claims at the State Worker's Accident Insurance Institute. He never married, and published only a few slim volumes of stories during his lifetime. Meditation, a collection of sketches, appeared in 1912; The Stoker: A Fragment in 1913; The Metamorphosis in 1915; The Judgement in 1916; In the Penal Colony in 1919; and A Country Doctor in 1920. The great novels were not published until after his death from tuberculosis: America, The Trial, and The Castle. Born in Florence, Roberto Calasso lives in Milan, where he is publisher of Adelphi. He is the author amongst other titles of The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, which was the winner of the Prix Veillon and the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger, Ka, and K.Michael Hofmann is a poet and critic, and the translator of many German and Austrian authors, including Elias Canetti, Ernst Junger, Wolfgang Koeppen, Thomas Bernhard and Joseph Roth. Geoffrey Brock received the PEN Center USA Translation Award and the MLA's Lois Roth Award for his translation of Cesare Pavese's Disaffections: Complete Poems 1930-1950. He is also the translator of Roberto Calasso's K.