Now back in print, more than two decades' worth of revelatory letters sometimes surprisingly humorous, sometimes heart-wrenchingly sad to the men and women with whom Franz Kafka maintained his closest personal relationships.
Collected after his death by his friend and literary executor Max Brod, here is a treasure trove of Kafka's letters from his years as a student in Prague in the early 1900s to his final months in the sanatorium near Vienna where he died in 1924.
They include charming notes to school friends; fascinating accounts to Brod about his work in its various stages of publication; correspondence with his publisher, Kurt Wolff, about manuscripts in progress, suggested book titles, type design, and late royalty statements; revealing exchanges with other young writers of the day, including Martin Buber and Felix Weltsch, on life, literature, and girls; and heartbreaking reports to his parents, sisters, and friends on the declining state of his health in the last months of his life.
"Kafka's letters are precious for what they reveal of a literary genius's insights into the predicaments of the modern artist, as well as for what they tell us of Kafka's loves, loyalties, fears, guilt, and his floundering attempts to cope with the debilitating disease that blighted half his adult life . . . Fluently and gracefully translated, helpfully annotated with care and admirable concision, [they] afford us an inside view of a writer who, perhaps more than any other novelist or poet in our century, stands at the center of our culture."
--Robert Alter, The New York Times Book Review "A series of self-portraits desperate and courageous, always eager and warm in feeling; the self is lit by fantasy and, of course, by drollery. He was a marvelous letter writer."
--V. S. Pritchett, The New York Review of Books