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The Castle by Franz Kafka (Author), Willa and Edwin Muir (Translators)

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The Castle by Franz Kafka  (Author), Willa and Edwin Muir (Translators)
   
  
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'The Castle'
​By Franz Kafka  (Author), Willa and Edwin Muir (Translators)

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Description:

Arriving in a village to take up the position of land surveyor for the mysterious lord of a castle, the character known as K. finds himself in a bitter and baffling struggle to contact his new employer and go about his duties. As the villagers and the Castle officials block his efforts at every turn, K.’s consuming quest–quite possibly a self-imposed one–to penetrate the inaccessible heart of the Castle and take its measure is repeatedly frustrated. Kafka once suggested that the would-be surveyor in The Castle is driven by a wish “to get clear about ultimate things,” an unrealizable desire that provided the driving force behind all of Kafka’s dazzlingly uncanny fictions. 

'Like Kafka’s last novel, Mairowitz’s graphic adaptation ends midsentence. Neither Mairowitz nor any other reader can say whether the land surveyor K. ever meets the Count, his supposed employer, in the castle. Nor can they ever determine whether he meets the Count’s agent, who K. repeatedly tries to contact by way of a messenger and with whose disgraced family he ends up sheltering when he fails to discover whether he has actually been hired at all and everyone else in town has closed their doors on him. Of course, the villagers—ignorantly in thrall to the castle and its authority—haven’t helped him at all, regardless of any sympathy they might have for K. Critics have argued that the story might satirize bureaucracy, political authority, or religious salvation. Or might it be an allegory of the Jew in a Gentile society? Jaromír 99 perhaps bets on that last interpretation with artwork that is a matter of stark swatches and blocks of black, white, and gray, suggestive of woodcuts and expressionism in general and German artist Käthe Kollwitz in particular.'

(Ray Olson)

'Of all Kafka’s fiction this is the most personal. K. is not of course a mouthpiece for Kafka–he lacks Kafka’s grave intelligence and humor–but his inner conflict between a taste for ordinary life and the demands imposed by his quest were in good part shared by Kafka . . . 
The Castle projects a greater strength of will than we have encountered in Kafka’s earlier writings–an effort to overcome the muteness of existence.'

(From the Introduction by Irving Howe)

 
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Franz Kafka was one of the major fiction writers of the 20th century. He was born to a middle-class German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, Bohemia (presently the Czech Republic), Austria–Hungary. His unique body of writing—much of which is incomplete and which was mainly published posthumously—is considered to be among the most influential in Western literature. His stories include The Metamorphosis (1912) and In the Penal Colony (1914), while his novels are The Trial (1925), The Castle (1926) and Amerika (1927). Kafka's first language was German, but he was also fluent in Czech. Later, Kafka acquired some knowledge of French language and culture; one of his favorite authors was FlaubertKafka first studied chemistry at the Charles-Ferdinand University of Prague, but switched after two weeks to law. This offered a range of career possibilities, which pleased his father, and required a longer course of study that gave Kafka time to take classes in German studies and art history. At the university, he joined a student club, named Lese- und Redehalle der Deutschen Studenten, which organized literary events, readings and other activities. In the end of his first year of studies, he met Max Brod, who would become a close friend of his throughout his life, together with the journalist Felix Weltsch, who also studied law. Kafka obtained the degree of Doctor of Law on 18 June 1906 and performed an obligatory year of unpaid service as law clerk for the civil and criminal courts. Kafka's writing attracted little attention until after his death. During his lifetime, he published only a few short stories and never finished any of his novels, unless "The Metamorphosis" is considered a (short) novel. Prior to his death, Kafka wrote to his friend and literary executor Max Brod: "Dearest Max, my last request: Everything I leave behind me ... in the way of diaries, manuscripts, letters (my own and others'), sketches, and so on, [is] to be burned unread." Brod overrode Kafka's wishes, believing that Kafka had given these directions to him specifically because Kafka knew he would not honor them—Brod had told him as much. Brod, in fact, would oversee the publication of most of Kafka's work in his possession, which soon began to attract attention and high critical regard.

Max Brod encountered significant difficulty in compiling Kafka's notebooks into any chronological order as Kafka was known to start writing in the middle of notebooks, from the last towards the first, etc.

All of Kafka's published works, except several letters he wrote in Czech to Milena Jesenská, were written in German.
 
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