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- Apr 19, 2022
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In 1917 and 1918, Franz Kafka wrote a set of more than 100 aphorisms, known as the Zürau aphorisms, after the Bohemian village in which he composed them. Among the most mysterious of Kafka’s writings, they explore philosophical questions about truth, good and evil, and the spiritual and sensory world. This is the first annotated, bilingual volume of these extraordinary writings, which provide great insight into Kafka’s mind. Edited, introduced, and with commentaries by preeminent Kafka biographer and authority Reiner Stach, and freshly translated by Shelley Frisch, this beautiful volume presents each aphorism on its own page in English and the original German, with accessible and enlightening notes on facing pages.
The most complex of Kafka’s writings, the aphorisms merge literary and analytical thinking and are radical in their ideas, original in their images and metaphors, and exceptionally condensed in their language. Offering up Kafka’s characteristically unsettling charms, the aphorisms at times put readers in unfamiliar, even inhospitable territory, which can then turn luminous: “I have never been in this place before: breathing works differently, and a star shines next to the sun, more dazzlingly still.”
Above all, this volume reveals that these multifaceted gems aren’t far removed from Kafka’s novels and stories but are instead situated squarely within his cosmos—arguably at its very core. Long neglected by Kafka readers and scholars, his aphorisms have finally been given their full due here.