Franz Kafka’s Last Wishes and the Kafka Myths

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2 Responses

  1. Lior says:

    Dan – Everything you say here is sensible and fair-minded. As you know, some of these points were widely understood before Hawes’s book. Let me just add two points that make things more complex. First, we know that Kafka DID destroy the works he had access to while he was dying in a sanitarium. This suggests (but does not prove) a seriousness of purpose in his letters to Brod. Second, Brod admitted – in the Forward to the Trial, I think – that because of the quality of the works, he would not have destroyed Kafka’s work even if he was certain that Kafka wanted them destroyed.

  2. Joseph says:

    If you’re interested in the themes Hawes addresses, but disliked his tone and found that he goes overboard at times, I would suggest reading Milan Kundera’s “Testaments Betrayed.” It was published more than a decade before Hawes’ book and while its focus is the development of the novel, he spends a lot of time discussing Kafka. He writes against “Kafkology,” the practice of critics and academics who study Kafka based more on biography than the broader context of movements such as Modernism, and who perpetuate Max Brod’s saintly view of Kafka and misinterpretations of the meanings of Kafka’s works. Kundera is quite harsh toward Brod. He admits we wouldn’t have these great novels without Brod, but blames him for ruining Kafka analysis.