Kafka by Reiner Stach
The Years of Insight

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 3 Critic Reviews

An illuminating book built, like its subject’s life, on small episodes rather than great, dramatic turning points. Essential for students and serious readers of Kafka.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

This volume of Reiner Stach's acclaimed and definitive biography of Franz Kafka tells the story of the final years of the writer's life, from 1916 to 1924--a period during which the world Kafka had known came to an end. Stach's riveting narrative, which reflects the latest findings about Kafka's life and works, draws readers in with nearly cinematic precision, zooming in for extreme close-ups of Kafka's personal life, then pulling back for panoramic shots of a wider world blighted by World War I, disease, and inflation.

In these years, Kafka was spared military service at the front, yet his work as a civil servant brought him into chilling proximity with its grim realities. He was witness to unspeakable misery, lost the financial security he had been counting on to lead the life of a writer, and remained captive for years in his hometown of Prague. The outbreak of tuberculosis and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire constituted a double shock for Kafka, and made him agonizingly aware of his increasing rootlessness. He began to pose broader existential questions, and his writing grew terser and more reflective, from the parable-like Country Doctor stories and A Hunger Artist to The Castle.

A door seemed to open in the form of a passionate relationship with the Czech journalist Milena Jesenská. But the romance was unfulfilled and Kafka, an incurably ill German Jew with a Czech passport, continued to suffer. However, his predicament only sharpened his perceptiveness, and the final period of his life became the years of insight.

 

About Reiner Stach

See more books from this Author
Reiner Stach worked extensively on the definitive edition of Kafka's collected works before embarking on this three-volume biography. The second volume, "Kafka: The Decisive Years" (Princeton), is also available. The first volume, covering Kafka's childhood and youth, is forthcoming. Shelley Frisch's translation of the second volume was awarded the Modern Language Association's Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize. She has translated many other books from German, including biographies of Nietzsche and Einstein, and she holds a PhD in German literature from Princeton University.
 
Published June 9, 2013 by Princeton University Press. 696 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for Kafka
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by PD Smith on Jul 31 2015

This is the second volume of Reiner Stach’s masterly trilogy on Kafka, expertly translated from German by Shelley Frisch...A triumph of biography and literary scholarship.

Read Full Review of Kafka: The Years of Insight | See more reviews from Guardian

Kirkus

Excellent
on May 22 2013

An illuminating book built, like its subject’s life, on small episodes rather than great, dramatic turning points. Essential for students and serious readers of Kafka.

Read Full Review of Kafka: The Years of Insight | See more reviews from Kirkus

The Economist

Good
on Jul 27 2013

Despite the gloom, this biography makes for an excellent read. Mr Stach, a German academic, expertly presents Kafka’s struggles with his work and health against the wider background of the first world war, the birth of Czechoslovakia and the hyperinflation of the 1920s.

Read Full Review of Kafka: The Years of Insight | See more reviews from The Economist

Reader Rating for Kafka
87%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 10 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review