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Kafka: The Decisive Years
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2013
This is the middle of a three-volume definitive biography of Franz Kafka (1883-1924), which is in fact the first proper and full biography of the writer ever published. Dealing with the middle years in Prague of Kafka's short life, it is as gripping as a novel, and the translation from the German is superb. Indispensable to anyone who has come under the spell of Kafka's compulsive idiom, including the three completed novels, the short stories and the Diaries. Kafka defined the 20th century both in terms of life and of literature; he is for all of us.
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on 25 August 2015
Novelistic, deep, penetrating and insightful. The detail is exhaustive, and I'm sure there must be a small measure of poetic license taken on Stach's part. This middle volume of a trilogy covers Kafka's most productive years and the writing of his best known works, his tragic relationships with women, and his already failing health. There's also new light shed on the often difficult relationships with his family, and his minor travels, excursions to conferences and attempts to get published. Stach is smart enough to avoid any cod-psychological analysis, but places Kafka's writing firmly in context of his life events, leaving us to draw our own conclusions. It's a known truth that far more has been written about Kafka than by him, but this is a major addition to that constantly growing canon.
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