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  • Published: 15 December 2016
  • ISBN: 9780805209495
  • Imprint: Knopf US
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 528
  • RRP: $60.00

Letters to Friends, Family, and Editors



Collected after his death by his friend and literary executor Max Brod, here is a treasure trove of Kafka's letters from his years as a student in Prague in the early 1900s to his final months in the sanatorium near Vienna where he died in 1924. They include charming notes to school friends; fascinating accounts to Brod about his work in its various stages of publication; correspondence with his publisher, Kurt Wolff, about manuscripts in progress, suggested book titles, type design, and late royalty statements; revealing exchanges with other young writers of the day, including Martin Buber and Felix Weltsch, on life, literature, and girls; and heartbreaking reports to his parents, sisters, and friends on the declining state of his health in the last months of his life.

More than two decades of letters from one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century—the author of The Metamorphosis and The Trial—to the people in his life, from his years as a student in Prague in the early 1900s to his final months in the sanatorium near Vienna where he died in 1924. 

Sometimes surprisingly humorous, sometimes wrenchingly sad, these letters, collected after Kafka's death by his friend and literary executor Max Brod, include charming notes to school friends; fascinating accounts to Brod about his work in its various stages of publication; correspondence with his publisher, Kurt Wolff, about manuscripts in progress, suggested book titles, type design, and late royalty statements; revealing exchanges with other young writers of the day, including Martin Buber and Felix Weltsch, on life, literature, and girls; and heartbreaking reports to his parents, sisters, and friends on the declining state of his health in the last months of his life.

  • Published: 15 December 2016
  • ISBN: 9780805209495
  • Imprint: Knopf US
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 528
  • RRP: $60.00

About the author

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka (1883–1924) was born into a Jewish family in Prague. In 1906 he received a doctorate in jurisprudence, and for many years he worked a tedious job as a civil service lawyer investigating claims at the State Worker's Accident Insurance Institute. He never married, and published only a few slim volumes of stories during his lifetime. Meditation, a collection of sketches, appeared in 1912; The Stoker: A Fragment in 1913; Metamorphosis in 1915; The Judgement in 1916; In the Penal Colony in 1919; and A Country Doctor in 1920. The great novels were not published until after his death from tuberculosis: America, The Trial and The Castle.

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Praise for Letters to Friends, Family, and Editors

"Kafka's letters are precious for what they reveal of a literary genius's insights into the predicaments of the modern artist, as well as for what they tell us of Kafka's loves, loyalties, fears, guilt, and his floundering attempts to cope with the debilitating disease that blighted half his adult life . . . Fluently and gracefully translated, helpfully annotated with care and admirable concision, [they] afford us an inside view of a writer who, perhaps more than any other novelist or poet in our century, stands at the center of our culture." --Robert Alter, The New York Times Book Review

"When we turn from Kafka's books to his letters, we have a series of self-portraits desperate and courageous, always eager and warm in feeling; the self is lit by fantasy and, of course, by drollery. He was a marvelous letter writer." --V. S. Pritchett, The New York Review of Books

"These letters are like messages from the dark side of the moon, presenting aspects of Kafka that would have died with his friends. We meet Kafka the artist, friend, son, father figure, marriage counselor, literary critic, insurance official . . . a full portrait, and a significant contribution to Kafka scholarship." --Smithsonian