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The Complete Short Stories (Vintage Classics)
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 29 September 2013
This is not a review of Kafka's work, which I love and admire. It's a review of this particular edition of this translation of his stories. The translations themselves are largely the work of Edwin and Willa Muir, who did a great job introducing Kafka to the English-speaking world back in the 20s, but although the Muir's work has a definite appeal, there are more accurate and more sensitive translations available now. The real problem with this book is the appalling quality of the printing. Entire pages of my copy have the look of being badly reproduced by some photographic process. Punctuation is often broken or entirely absent. Maybe Vintage have fixed the problem since I got my copy of this, but in the meantime, I'd advise English-speaking readers to go to the Penguin translations, which are far more accurate. Unfortunately they have absolutely terrible cover art, but if you can stand it, they're the ones to get.

Ideally, we'd all learn some German and go to amazon.de or whatever and read this work in the original, because a huge amount of Kafka is lost in translation. But in the meantime, this looks like the standard collection of the stories in English, but it doesn't deserve to be.
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58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2004
If you want to see the blueprints for later classics the Trial and the Castle then look no further. This is a collection of Kafka’s musings, scribblings and snippets that were collected and written around the same time as his fuller, more important works. Not that this should be considered as a mere scrapbook, there’s some amazing stuff here. This a compendium of modern horror filled with the author’s central preoccupations. Isolation, alienation, guilt and paranoia are the order of the day... but there is also wit, poetry and more surprisingly, elements of black comedy. Kafka’s world is dark and foreboding, and that extends to his sense of humour. His greatness was in his ideas, the juxtaposition of normality against the backdrop of absurdity. But his writing is as, if not more impressive than many of his contemporaries. The use of prose, the contrasting styles of narration, the personal reflections of his own disintegrating life... yes much of it is downbeat, but the majority is completely beautiful. The author’s understanding of the worlds that he creates demonstrates a degree of intimacy that few writers can equate. This is truly magnificent. If you have already purchased the complete novels then I urge you to buy this as the most perfect companion piece. Many of the stories may be nothing more than more page-long scribbles, some even shorter than that... but as others have already stated; Kafka is able to do more in a few lines than some authors can do with three-hundred pages. This is easy to digest too, so if you’re looking for an easy way into Kafka (really, he’s one of the best) then this is it. Seriously, you won’t regret it.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 5 February 2002
Some people see Kafka as a rather scary, depressing read. Indeed, one of my literary friends said, when I told him I was reading this book, that he hoped I could get to sleep. Of course, he hadn't actually read it himself! You can, if you wish, take Kafka's stories at face value and simply follow, for example, his brilliant description of what it might be like to wake up one morning and discover you have unexpectedly become an insect. Or you can look for symbolism beneath the surface. Whichever way you look at it, Kafka is an absolute master with words, and if you aren't familiar with his work I urge you to put aside any worries you might have and give him a chance. You surely won't regret it!
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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on 15 November 2001
The general rule of Kafka is: the fewer the pages, the greater the impact. Kafka can achieve in two paragraphs more sleep-reducing, mind-opening ideas than any other writer can with 800 pages. Including himself. Take, for example, Before The Law, a two-page version of The Trial that is perhaps the greatest work of fiction ever. A necessary presence on any respectful bookshelf, Kafka's vast array of ideas, fears, witticisms and philosophies will probably prove to be the most important book you've ever read. So read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 March 2009
All of life is here. Goes straight to the 'human universals' like no other. Wonderful characters and strangely evocative style are the icing on the cake. A master of the short story.
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on 29 June 2015
I am a great admirer of Kafka's work, and I think that this volume contains some exceptional stories, although I did find some of the stories a struggle.

Perhaps readers might wish to be aware that this collection contains all of Kafka's short stories, including some that he left unfinished. In a few cases, pages are seen to be missing, while other stories are obviously fragmentary in nature, or are simply in an unfinished state. While the unfinished work can sometimes be extremely interesting, it would clearly be unrealistic to expect Kafka's unfinished stories to meet the same standards as his finished work. It happens to be the case that the first two of the longer stories in this book are both very much of the unfinished variety, and it is to be hoped that this will not deter any unwary readers from reading the stories that follow.

Although it may not always be obvious which stories were completed, there is some general guidance about this on the contents page, which has asterisks next to all of the stories that were actually published during Kafka's lifetime. Additional guidance about the individual stories can also be found at the end of the book.

I would also like to commend the earlier review by Lexo1941, and I totally agree with his comments. My copy of this book suffers from the worst printing that I have ever seen in a printed book. Sometimes it is only just readable; it gives the impression that the printer was running out of ink every fifteen pages or so. Very poor quality control by the publisher. There also seems to be a distinct lack of full stops for some reason, though you get used to that and it isn't such a big deal New purchasers should try to check the printing if possible, or alternatively follow Lexo's advice and look for another version.

But you never know! Maybe the publisher was endeavouring to honour Kafka's final wish by trying to prevent people from reading his uncompleted works?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 26 April 2012
Here are some great quotes from Kafka and his stories that might encourage you to read this one-of-a-kind writer: 'The longer one hesitates before the door, the more estranged one becomes.' - ('Home-Coming'), 'Someone must watch, it is said. Someone must be there.' - ('At Night'), 'As long as you don't stop climbing, the stairs won't end, under your climbing feet they will go on growing upwards.' - ('Advocates'), 'Was her actual piping notably louder and more alive than the memory of it will be? Was it even in her lifetime more than a simple memory?' - ('Josephine the Singer'), 'I am free and that is why I'm lost.' 'There is no journey, only a goal. What we call a journey is actually hesitation.' 'There is a point that, once you get there, you will never return. This is the point that must be reached.' 'Where is the judge I've never seen?' - ('The Trial'), 'Theoretically there is a perfect possibility of happiness: believing in the indestructible element in oneself and not striving towards it.' :D
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on 19 November 2014
Very good translation (especially compared to some others I have been looking at recently).

The shorter stories (some of which I hadn't read before) are magnificent and well worth reading. It's great to have everything in one collection, and this is a nicely formatted publication.

I think this would make a great gift to someone as an introduction to Kafka, or just as a great bedside read to stimulate some interesting dreams!
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on 11 April 2014
All of the Kafkas under one roof.

The advantage is that the less well know Kafkas are also invited over to stay.
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on 9 September 2014
product as described I'm very pleased thank you A+++
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