Kafka's last novel, The Castle is set in a remote village covered almost permanently in snow and dominated by a castle and its staff of dictatorial, sexually predatory bureaucrats. The novel breaks new ground in exploring the relation between the individual and power, asking why the villagers so readily submit to an authority which may exist only in their collective imagination. Published only after Kafka's death, The Castle appeared in the same decade as modernist masterpieces by Eliot, Joyce, Woolf, Mann and Proust, and is among the central works of modern literature. This new translation by prize-winning translator Anthea Bell follows the German text established by critical scholarship, and mentions manuscript variants in the notes. The detailed introduction by Ritchie Robertson, a leading Kafka scholar, explores the many meanings of this famously enigmatic novel, providing guidance without reducing the reader's freedom to make sense of this fascinating novel. In addition, the edition includes a Biographical Preface which places Kafka within the context of his time, plus an up-to-date bibliography and chronology of Kafka's life.
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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.
Ritchie Robertson is a Professor of German and a Fellow of St. John's College at the University of Oxford.
Anthea Bell has worked as a translator for many years. Her translations from German include modern and classic fiction by authors such as E. T. A. Hoffmann and Kafka, as well as work by Stefan Zweig.