Kafka's Last Trial: The Case of a Literary Legacy
Dr. Benjamin Balint - Van Leer Institute Jerusalem
- Donderdag 7 mei 2020 om 19.00 uur
Online via Blackboard Collaborate
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Kafka’s Last Trial begins with Kafka’s last instruction to his closest friend, Max Brod: to destroy all his remaining papers upon his death. But when the moment arrived, in 1924, Brod could not bring himself to burn the unpublished works of the man he considered a literary genius and even a saint. Instead, Brod devoted himself to championing Kafka’s writing, rescuing his legacy from obscurity and physical destruction. The story of Kafka’s posthumous life is itself Kafkaesque. By the time of Brod’s death, in 1968 in Tel Aviv, Kafka’s major works had been published, transforming the once little-known writer into a pillar of literary modernism. Yet Brod left a wealth of still-unpublished papers to his secretary. She subsequently sold some of them, held on to the rest, and then passed the bulk of them on to her daughters, who in turn refused to release them. An international legal battle erupted to determine which country could claim ownership of Kafka’s work: the Promised Land, where Kafka dreamed of living but never entered, or Germany, where Kafka’s three sisters perished in the Holocaust? In this lecture, author Benjamin Balint will talk about his book, his research, and Kafka’s legacy.
Benjamin Balint, a fellow at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, is the author of Kafka’s Last Trial (translated into ten languages) and co-author, with Merav Mack, of Jerusalem: City of the Book (Yale University Press). Balint’s translations from Hebrew have appeared in The New Yorker, and his cultural essays and reviews appear in The Wall Street Journal, Jewish Review of Books, Die Zeit, and the Times Literary Supplement.