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Kafka For Beginners Paperback – 1996

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Paperback, 1996

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Icon / Totem Books (1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1874166099
  • ISBN-13: 978-1874166092
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 656,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
Throughout most of his life, Franz Kafka imagined his own extinction by dozens of carefully elaborated methods. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a must have. Crumb and Kafka, who would have thought it, yet it makes perfect sense - the illustrations are some of the finest and blackest he has produced to date, and the illustrated Metamorphosis is a particular treat. Mairowitz's text is well balanced and lucid. The book is both informative and funny, bringing out the dark humour in Kafka as well as the paranoid side he is better known for. This is a fantastic introduction to Kafka, a must have for Crumb fans, and a great graphic novel in its own right.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Feb. 2004
Format: Paperback
The black humour of Kafka is perfect inspiration for Crumbs drawings especially their similar views on many subjects.
I bought this book for both the subject and the drawings so it is now a prize possession. The 'introducing..' series are my favourite books - they are educational and full of humour, lighting the fire of interest in the subjects they 'introduce' as well as being being books in their own right.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Without Robert Crumb's detailed illustrations, INTRODUCING KAFKA would be just another book about Kafka, but the illustrations really bring it to life!
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By Ian Blackwell on 4 Mar. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 14 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Kafka's World: The Visualization 25 Jun. 2002
By Gary Kern - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a longtime reader of Kafka, I found this book to be an unqualified delight, for it not only reviews his life and work with pinpoint concision, but also portrays it in evocative visual detail. The narrative by Mairowitz is sharp and insightful, with a zesty peppering of invective against pedants and philistines, while Crumb's gloomy pen drawings take the reader's eye into the heart of Prague and into the mind and imagination of its most anxious and self-conscious denizen. It is especially delightful to track down the original photographs that Crumb used for his models, for example in the book Franz Kafka: Pictures of a Life by Klaus Wagenbach, and then to see how he animates the figure of Kafka, presenting him now as an ordinary person in ordinary life (such as exercising by the window or chewing each bite of food more than ten times), now as a cartoon caricature in his own nightmares (zapped out and fleeing a succubus), now as an idealized figure in his fantasies (the healthy workman, the contented farmer). He also contrives to make the characters of Kafka's fiction resemble the author, but only slightly and appropriately. The loves of Kafka's life, especially Milena, emerge from their photographs as sexy, desirable women, then their images echo through his works. Crumb's portrayals of the stories and novels are not mere impressions, but careful and useful illustrations, since some scenes and particulars in Kafka are not easy to visualize, for example the machine in the story "In the Penal Colony." And, of course, Crumb is absolutely fastidious in basing his drawings on historical materials, so that we can see streets, buildings and dress, including uniforms, just as they were at the time. The presentation of Kafka's works necessarily reduce them to their storyline or plot and cannot do justice to his elaborate narratives, yet even here Mairowitz fixes on a crucial scene or a characteristic twist, which Crumb then illustrates in all its demonic glory. All in all, the book is a total pleasure, as perfect as it could be.
Only one quibble. I would not want a person to look at it first, before reading Kafka. It is much more suitable as a summing up, a personal vision and inspired collaboration of two mad devotees of Kafka. Read Kafka first, a lot of Kafka, then buy this book to sharpen your vision. It's a work of art, comparable to the Expressionism of Kafka's time.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Perfect Blend 22 Nov. 2005
By Dr. Lotto Budweiser - Published on
Format: Paperback
There's an irreplaceable feeling attached to reading Kafka directly. Furthermore, Kafka himself probably would have hated the idea of images being made of his stories. That being said, I can't think of any better artist than Crumb to illustrate that over-used term "Kafkaesque."

This book is a great introduction - as titled - and a perfect blend in at least two ways: 1) The juxtaposition of Kafka's life and work presents the depth of his stories as well as some of the possible inspirations from his real life - like the role his overbearing father played in his creation of authoritative characters. And 2) as already mentioned, the at-times-terrifying-but-always-amusing art of Robert Crumb with the similarly dark-comedic styling of Kafka himself. (Kafka is said to have been inclined to laugh when reading his own work)

This is the only book of this introductory series I've read so far, but I would take this as an indication of a set of worthwhile books.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
An Ideal Match: Crumb and Kafka 22 Jun. 2000
By R. W. Rasband - Published on
Format: Paperback
Mairowitz writes a lucid intorduction to the work of the great writer but the real treasure here is the copious artwork by R. Crumb. It's almost like he was born to illustrate Kafka. This is a fully satisfying three-dimensional consideration of the author, his times, and his postumous fame. *Not* just a comic book. Highly recommended, and not just for Kafka or Crumb fans, but anyone who loves writing and comedy.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Kafka's Women 27 April 2003
By James Paris - Published on
Format: Paperback
As I read through this delightful summary of Franz Kafka's life and work, I was struck by the fact that both the Czech writer and the cartoonist R. Crumb have the same anguished yearning for determined young women. Curiously, these all have the strong legs, broad beams, and statuesque torsos of Crumb's fantasy women from Zap Comix to today. Perhaps, Crumb and Kafka have more in common than meets the eye.
They are all there: Gregor Samsa's sister, the luscious Milena Jesenska, the Advocate's "nurse" Leni, Olga and Frieda from THE CASTLE, and the ravishing Dora Diamant. These women are all more durable than both Kafka and Crumb, who are wispy and likely to blow away in the next puff of wind. (I recommend that you see the excellent film documentary of the cartoonist's life, called, appropriately, CRUMB.)
When one concentrates on the women in Kafka's life and work, the result is curiously enlightening. "None of his female characters seems to have her own existence," writes David Zane Mairowitz, "but is spawned in his imagination in order to distract 'K' or 'Joseph K,' to tempt and ensnare him. Kafka's sexual terror is put to the test time after time, yet these same women provide something more.... The outcome of these relationships is rarely 'intimate' (Leni being an exception) and has more to do with power than personal feelings. Kafka's talent would mostly SUGGEST erotic encounter, rather than indulging his characters in that act which he found 'repellent and perfectly useless.'"
Perhaps Mairowitz and Crumb do not provide a measured and scholarly study of the writer, but within a mere 175 pages they have done more to rekindle my interest in Kafka than anything else I have ever read about him. This book is a perfect gem and a work of art in its own right.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Informative Author Biography with Cute Comics Artwork by a Great Comics Artist: R. Crumb 26 Mar. 2007
By Bryan E. Leed - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
INTRODUCING KAFKA is a great way to enjoy R. Crumb artwork without feeling slimed by his unfortunate obsessions with perversity, and you will learn a lot about the life of the very famous author named Kafka, too.

Most of the pages have more space given to the artwork than the body text, drawn in the typical R. Crumb style, cute with edgy content.

Overall, after reading this book, I realized that I no longer am interested in the type of work done by Kafka, which is story writing that is VERY depressive and dreary, though imaginative.

I used to be a much more involved reader of R. Crumb, but I have since lost interest in his pornography overloads, so this INTRODUCING KAFKA book is a nice little souvenir of R. Crumb that I can safely keep in the house, without fear of upsetting anybody if they should ever find it.

There is very mild "adult" content in R. Crumb's artwork, especially mild compared to R. Crumb's independent, anything goes, usual work.

This book is a perfect fit for a biography of oddball author Kafka, presented and illustrated with R. Crumb work, doing a rare, non-offense project, for most mainstream readers' sensibilities.
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