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The Diaries of Franz Kafka by Franz Kafka
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The Diaries of Franz Kafka by Franz Kafka
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Sep 03, 2024 | ISBN 9780805212792

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“Essential . . . The new volume, in a sensitive and briskly idiomatic translation by Ross Benjamin, offers revelation upon revelation. It’s an invaluable addition to Kafka’s oeuvre.”
The New York Times

“Momentous . . . Life also bursts into literature at the level of form, and in Kafka’s diaries even the words are acrobatic. As Ross Benjamin notes in the thoughtful introduction to his new translation, his aim is to capture the extent to which the diaries were a ‘laboratory for Kafka’s literary production’ and thereby catch the author ‘in the act of writing.’ He has succeeded. Everything in the diaries thrashes . . . [They] are the intimate incisions of an author who could write only by etching words into the flesh.”
The New Yorker

“One of the finest translating achievements in recent history.”
Literary Review

“Benjamin, whose translation is the first complete and uncensored edition of the Diaries to be made available to an English readership . . . begins from scratch the whole business of restoring to the notebooks their ‘provisionality, materiality, and mutability . . [His] aim is to give us the writer in his ‘workshop,’ blotting the page, changing his mind, running at a sentence a dozen times and still not getting it right.”
The New York Review of Books

“Mr. Benjamin’s translation doesn’t just supplant the previous edition—it inaugurates a new phase of Kafka’s afterlife in English . . . The writing glimmers with sensitivity, and openness to the world.”
The Wall Street Journal

“Readers will welcome this new edition of the Diaries, complete, uncensored, in a fluent translation by Ross Benjamin, and supplemented with 78 pages of invaluable notes, the fruit of half a century of Kafka scholarship.”
—J. M. Coetzee, author of Disgrace
“Max Brod, Franz Kafka’s intimate friend and fellow writer, was, it is now understood, both his savior and his betrayer. Without his rescue of Kafka’s at-risk papers, there would be almost no Kafka at all; but in the presence of Brod’s mediating intrusions as editor, have we ever really known Kafka’s authentic voice? This new and scrupulously faithful translation of the Diaries brings us, unembellished by theory, the true inner life of the twentieth century’s most complex and enigmatic literary prophet, whose very name has come to us as symbol and vision of innocent vulnerability in the face of irrational force. Yet warns: beware interpretation!”
—Cynthia Ozick, author of Antiquities

“Franz Kafka’s inner life has always been a bit of a mystery. The expurgated diaries in their original German and English versions hinted at his complicated, often confused relationship to sex, politics, illness, and being Jewish. This readable new translation of the complete German version of the diary transforms the silent Kafka of a century ago into a Kafka not only of his times but of ours.”
—Sander Gilman, author of Franz Kafka, The Jewish Patient
“Thirty two years after their original publication in German, Franz Kafka’s complete Diaries are here in Ross Benjamin’s outstanding translation. A boon for the American reader! The previous edition of the Diaries was egregiously censored by Max Brod who eliminated whatever, in his misdirected view, could detract from the saintly image of his friend which he chiseled for posterity. Now we have in English some of the most intimate reflections and literary experiments of one of the towering geniuses of modern literature.”
—Saul Friedländer, author of Franz Kafka: The Poet of Shame and Guilt

“A fresh, unadulterated translation of Kafka’s notebooks, dense with introspection and writerly despair . . . The attraction of Kafka’s diaries has always been his coruscating descriptions of his existential struggles as a writer and human being. He captures his frustration in ways that are wrenching, vivid, and highly quotable . . . Essential reading.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Finally! Three decades after the publication of the critical edition of Franz Kafka’s diaries in Germany, English readers can now ‘catch Kafka in the act of writing,’ thanks to this monumental endeavor by translator Ross Benjamin. This new volume offers us Kafka’s singular perspective and delivers an expanded window into Kafka’s unique personality. The intricately researched and detailed Notes (75 pages of them!) provide us with a wealth of knowledge and context. For those of us in thrall to Kafka the Man as well as the Writer, the Notes add layers of life to Kafka’s world and milieu and reveal a new depth and richness to Kafka’s humanity. This new volume is an essential addition to the library of every serious student and reader of Kafka.”
—Kathi Diamant, author of Kafka’s Last Love and director of the Kafka Project

“‘A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us,” Kafka famously wrote. In his Diaries, we see him turning that axe on his own psyche, recording his dreams, jotting snatches of overheard dialogue, even drafting stories. For the first time, Ross Benjamin’s new translation gives English readers access to the entirety of the Diaries, with Kafka’s fragmentary structure and idiosyncratic grammar preserved. The result is the most intimate glimpse possible into the process of this singular writer.”
—Ruth Franklin

“With this new rendition of Kafka’s diaries, Benjamin escorts us inside the burrow, showing us the artist at work. At once disturbing and humanizing, these unexpurgated notebooks remind us that the achievements of this singular writer were unlikely, precarious, and paid for with great pain.”
“The Diaries are a wild ride, and a recent translation by Ross Benjamin is superb. The book is handsome, the notes extensive, and Benjamin’s crisp preface is thoughtful and sincere . . . Benjamin’s research has brought the play and peculiarity of Kafka’s “method”—obsessive, cyclic, demanding, open-ended and abruptly terminative at once—into fresh light.”
Harper’s Magazine
“This new edition restores the variegated richness – and, at times, the tedium – of the diaries . . . Here Kafka seems both genius and ingenue, and the contradiction brings him closer to us . . . The diaries, in which fiction, confession, dreams, wry humor, and despair combine in a messy, hypnotic network, feel like the closest thing to a path, so like a tripwire, that leads to the threshold of Kafka’s abiding mystery.”
The Guardian

“The new translation restores the diaries to how Kafka wrote them: fragmentary, sometimes incoherent and disordered. It’s not unusual to find a sketch continued 100 pages later—or even 100 pages earlier, so chaotic was the way he filled the pages . . . It’s thrilling to turn the page after acres of Olympic-standard bellyaching and find the entire text of Kafka’s extraordinary short story “The Judgement” presented just as he wrote it, in one long overnight blizzard of creativity . . . The Diaries will open your eyes—but the stories will blow your mind.”
The Times (UK)

“This edition of The Diaries seems a model of both scrupulousness and generosity. Here we find the unpolished inner life of one of the most significant writers that ever lived.”
The Spectator

“An unprecedented, almost 600-page peephole into the mind of a writer whose published prose is otherwise classically abstract and inscrutable. It’s some secret to be let into.”
Financial Times

“Ross Benjamin’s new translation, the first in 75 years, has relevance extending beyond the rarefied air of Kafka scholarship. Benjamin has restored Kafka’s diaries to their messy original format, undoing virtually every editorial decision of Kafka’s longtime friend, executor, and biographer, Max Brod . . . Where Brod tried to clean up Kafka’s diaries for academics, Benjamin has recreated the thrill of discovering Kafka’s diaries for anyone interested in snooping.”
The Village Voice

“Ross Benjamin has given the literary world an incredible treasure in this thoughtful edition. Kafka has never been so fully present, both as a man and a writer.”
—New York Journal of Books

Table Of Contents

Translator’s Preface: Glimpses into Kafka’s Workshop vii
First Notebook 3
Second Notebook 53
Third Notebook 99
Fourth Notebook 139
Fifth Notebook 179
Sixth Notebook 219
Seventh Notebook 257
Eighth Notebook 291
Ninth Notebook 337
Bundles of Paper 355
Tenth Notebook 367
Eleventh Notebook 397
Twelfth Notebook 441
January- February 1911 Trips 497
August- September 1911 Trip 503
June- July 1912 Trip 545
September 1913 Trip 565
Notes 567
Chronology 645
Index 649

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