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KAFKA [Paperback]

Robert Crumb , David Zane Mairowitz
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 9.03
Price: 8.94 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

17 Aug 2013
Kafka wrote in the tradition of the great Yiddish storytellers, whose stock-in-trade was bizarre fantasy tainted with hilarity and self-abasement. What he added to this tradition was an almost unbearably expanded consciousness. Here, Mairowitz's brilliant text and the illustrations and comic panels of the world's greatest cartoonist, Robert Crumb, help readers understand the essence of Kafka and provide insight beyond the cliche |Kafkaesque|, peering through Kafka's glass wall like no other book before. Must-have for admirers of Kafka and Crumb alike.

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KAFKA + R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz, and Country + Robert Crumb's Book of Genesis: All 50 Chapters
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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: FANTAGRAPHICS; Reprint edition (17 Aug 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560978066
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560978060
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 8.5 x 0.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 193,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Crumb - known as R. Crumb - is an American artist and illustrator recognized for the distinctive style of his drawings and his critical, subversive view of the American mainstream. A founding member of the underground comix movement, Crumb's considerable success has been achieved outside the mainstream comic book industry. His most recognized works are the Keep on Truckin' and Fitz the Cat comics. He is also a keen follower of popular music and illustrates album covers.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight and Empathy for Kafka 16 Mar 2012
I first read Kafka thirty odd years ago as a youth. The first ever reference to Kafka I found was on the back of LP sleeve for 'We're Only In It For The Money' by Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention. Frank reccomended reading Kafka's 'In The Penal Colony' whilst listening to that album to understand the internment of Japanese civillians in California during World War Two better. The name of my crime would then be written on my back....

If from reading Kafka I got the point of Kafka's writing then I was absorbed by that point rather than being able to understand fully what I was reading, there is a hermetic quality to Kafka's writing which defies the less tenacious, and usually more youthful, reader. With this book I understood what Kafka was about, some strange nervousness that defied explanation, where life as it appears in the stories does not add up or make obvious sense, but equally would not stop. Robert Crumb's drawings and David Mairowitz text are brilliant, and provide a perfect counterpoint for Kafka's texts. Because Crumb's obsessions seem to counterpoint Kafka's life so well Crumb draws with an empathy for Kafka's 'nerves' that I doubt anybody else could. The limits of Kafka's social and emotional life were also well portrayed in print and picture.

This is a great introduction to Kafka which will set the reader up well for reading Kafka without illustrations, the more to enjoy reading Kafka with insight.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crumb meets Kafka...meets Crumb 4 Mar 2008
By Kerry Walters - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Kafka was a complex man whose genius is inseparable from his huge neuroses. So is Robert Crumb. Put the two together, as this book does, and the upshot is a book in which the distinction between author Crumb and subject Kafka tends to dissolve. The book is just as much about the one as the other. It's no mistake that Crumb is drawn (sorry for the bad pun) to Kafka.

At one level, the book is a primer on the life and work of Franz Kafka, with Crumb lavishly illustrating David Zane Mairowitz's text (warning: the text is strangely loaded with typos). The highlights of Kafka's life, including his stormy relationship with his father, his alienation from Prague, the city in which he spent most of his life, his difficulties with sexual intimacy, his self-loathing, his work at an insurance agency, and his struggle with tuberculosis, are all chronicled. Moreover, synapses of some of his best work--"The Judgment," "The Metamorphosis," "The Burrow," "In the Penal Colony," "A Hunger Artist," "Letter to His Father," The Trial, The Castle, and Amerika--are provided. Someone who knows nothing or little about Kafka will get a good orientation from reading this book.

But it's Crumb's pen-and-ink illustrations that make the book. They're eerie, dark, and at times actually frightening: perfect glimpses of Kafka's demons as well as Crumb's. In fact, Crumb and Kafka share many of the same demons: an intense need for comfort by women, but a deep-seated hostility to them; an equally intense need for public approval, coupled with an intense contempt for the crowd; a fascination with the usually unnoticed weirdness of the ordinary; a competing attraction and repulsion to the artistic, bohemian crowd; seething but repressed sexuality; a periodic yearning to disappear, to be punished, to be redeemed and reborn through suffering; an alternately bewildered and enraged dislike of Nietzschean proportions of the way in which popular culture cheapens existence (Crumb & Mairowitz's take on touristy Prague, pp. 174-75, is priceless); and a need to confess some of their darkest secrets, through their art, to the very public they disdain. In many ways, both Crumb and Kafka are hunger artists: they refuse to partake of the status quo not necessarily because they're ascetics, but simply because they don't find anything in it that whets their appetites. In gazing at Crumb's brilliant illustrations of Kafka, one can't help but think that this work, like so much of what Crumb does, is autobiographical.

Is it intentionally so? Does Crumb understand the deep connection between himself and Kafka? Is the book intended, at least on one level, as a gag: a book about Crumbka? I dunno, although I suspect that Crumb knows exactly what he's doing. But what I do know is that Kafka is about more than just Kafka. And that's what makes doubly intriguing.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you need Kafka in a hurry... 18 Nov 2009
By John Blue - Published on Amazon.com
This is an amazing book about Kafka. I have read some Kafka, but never in a million years would I have bought a biography of Kafka--unless I had been intrigued by the idea of it being in "graphic novel" format. David Mairowitz does a superb job of simply and clearly illustrating Kafka as a human being and dissecting Kafka's writing with great reverence for the work. As for Robert Crumb, it would be hard to imagine a better artist to illustrate a book about Kafka. Perhaps it is due to Crumb's very public neuroticism and career built on drawing the nebbish that you feel an instant sense of the "rightness" of the artistic depictions in this book.

It is a delightful, often humorous, and informative read. You would be hard pressed to find a less painful way to become more familiar with the world and work of Franz Kafka. I would highly recommend this book for any student assigned to read Kafka, or for anyone who has read something of Kafka and would like a better sense of his origins and influences. It is somehow scholarly and delightful all at the same time.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating window into Kafka's brilliantly troubled mind. 17 Dec 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Michael Sidlofsky
Kafka scholar David Mairowitz and underground comics artist Robert Crumb team up to provide a fascinating window into Franz Kafka's brilliantly troubled mind. Mairowitz's text provides historical context and biographical information, including valuable insight into the Jewish folkloric roots of Kafka's fiction. Crumb's characteristically graphic illustrations highlight the horrific and humorous elements within Kafka's work. Together, the author and illustrator provide summaries of K's best-known short stories and novels, encouraging the reader to delve into the originals. The book's only flaw lies in Mairowitz's unfortunately condescending attitude towards Kafka scholars and fans.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great collaboration 28 Jan 2000
By Leonard Friedland - Published on Amazon.com
R. Crumb and Charles Bukowski, now Crumb and Kafka. The drawings illuminate the text in a way that Kafka would have loved. I will never see Kafka again, except through Crumb's vision.
If you like Crumb, or if you like Kafka, find this book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an incredible biography of Kafka 28 Sep 2010
By R. A. Frauenglas - Published on Amazon.com
This is a complete, full-length graphic novel biography of Kafka. In less than 180 pages, the life of this complex & very influential writer to later generations, is told with a completeness that satisfies this reader. His family life, his upbringing, the loves & unrequited loves of his life, his daily work, his influences, his fears, his loves, & his beliefs are all within these covers. His novels are reprised in just a few pages for each one. Aspects of his own life are used to mirror his novels. This is one incredible biography & should already be considered a classic of the graphic novel genre.
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