Monday, October 26, 2009

Israel's National Library adds a final twist to Franz Kafka's Trial
German museum asked to hand back author's disputed manuscript to correct 'historical error'
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem
The Observer, Sunday 25 October 2009

Franz Kafka in 1905. Photograph: Getty Images/Hulton Archive

Israel's National Library is calling on a German museum to hand over the original manuscript of Franz Kafka's novel The Trial to correct a "historical error", in the latest unravelling of a complex dispute over the writer's legacy.
The manuscript was sold at auction by Sotheby's in 1988 for almost $2m to a book dealer acting on behalf of the German government and is stored in the Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach. Now the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem, which collects all works published in Israel, says that The Trial should be returned to the country in accordance with the final wishes of Max Brod, a friend of Kafka and the executor of his will.
It is a new twist in an intriguing dispute over the writer's legacy that began a year ago when it was revealed that two reclusive sisters living in Tel Aviv stand to inherit reams of documents and books from a Kafka archive passed down over decades. The National Library has been in court for months trying to claim ownership.

Kafka died from tuberculosis in 1924, leaving a surprising set of instructions to Brod: "Dearest Max, My last request: Everything I leave behind me [is] to be burned unread." But Brod instead published for the first time Kafka's novels The Trial, The Castle and Amerika.
In 1939 Brod fled his home in Prague as the Nazis approached and took a single suitcase of Kafka papers to Tel Aviv, where he started a new life. He later donated manuscripts of The Castle and Amerika to Oxford University, but kept the original of The Trial for himself.
After the death of his wife, Brod began a relationship with his assistant, Esther Hoffe. When he died in 1968, he left a will that is now hotly disputed.
The full intriguing story at The Observer.

No comments: