Best Short Stories: A Dual-Language Book Paperback – Apr 1 1997
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From the Back Cover
Students of German language and literature will welcome this dual-language edition of five stories by Franz Kafka (1883-1924). Considered one of the greatest modern writers, Kafka's work brilliantly explores the anxiety, futility and complexity of modern life. Along with original German texts, Stanley Appelbaum has provided accurate English translations on facing pages, affording students and ideal opportunity to read some of Kafka's finest in the original, to discover the passion and profundity of this extremely important figure in modern European literature, and to upgrade their German language skill at the same time.
About the Author
Franz Kafka was born to Jewish parents in Bohemia in 1883. Kafka s father was a luxury goods retailer who worked long hours and as a result never became close with his son. Kafka s relationship with his father greatly influenced his later writing and directly informed his Brief an den Vater (Letter to His Father). Kafka had a thorough education and was fluent in both German and Czech. As a young man, he was hired to work at an insurance company where he was quickly promoted despite his desire to devote his time to writing rather than insurance. Over the course of his life, Kafka wrote a great number of stories, letters, and essays, but burned the majority of his work before his death and requested that his friend Max Brod burn the rest. Brod, however, did not fulfill this request and published many of the works in the years following Kafka s death of tuberculosis in 1924. Thus, most of Kafka s works were published posthumously, and he did not live to see them recognized as some of the most important examples of literature of the twentieth century. Kafka s works are considered among the most significant pieces of existentialist writing, and he is remembered for his poignant depictions of internal conflicts with alienation and oppression. Some of Kafka s most famous works include The Metamorphosis, The Trial and The Castle.
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Top Customer Reviews
The stories themselves are highly challenging. Kafka is regarded as a profit of modern alienation, but that doesn't capture the complexity of his thought. His masterpiece, The Metamorphosis, is here. In it Gregor Samsa awakes one morning to find he has turned into a giant bug. With that simple, but startling device, Kafka has a vehicle for exploring the inner dynamic of a family, and the mix of selfishness and altruism which informs our relationships with one another. On the surface, it would seem that Kafka is affirming the increasingly common notion that all altruism is really disguised selfishness - yet the story's bleakness suggests that Kafka himself knows that the vision is incomplete. This is the truth, he says. But is it the whole truth?
In another great story, In the Penalty Colony, Kafka presents us with a society that was once ordered around a great torturing device. The society is in the process of moving away from the torture device, and that would seem to be a good thing. But Kafka is more challenging than that. Does a vision of the world which imagines no role for suffering really speak to our deepest selves? We are repulsed by the old order, but the new order seems to be missing something.
So in one neat package, you can learn some German and struggle with a challenging vision of the world. That's a bargain, in my book!
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