This is a student guide to Franz Kafka, focusing on giving guidance through the difficulties readers can encounter in studying his work. Franz Kafka is one of the most widely taught, and read, writers in world literature. Readers encountering texts like "The Metamorphosis" and "The Trial" for the first time are frequently perplexed by his often intentionally weird writing. Some might say that Kafka's enduring achievement has been to make his readers love being perplexed. As much of Kafka's writing is designed to perplex the reader, this guide helps the reader understand why and how perplexity has been deliberately created by Kafka's texts and to realize what the uses of such perplexity might be. The book guides readers through their first encounters with Kafka and introduces the problems involved in reading his texts, the nature of his texts from the key novels and novellas to letters and professional writings, his life as a writer and different approaches to reading Kafka.
"Continuum's Guides for the Perplexed" are clear, concise and accessible introductions to thinkers, writers and subjects that students and readers can find especially challenging - or indeed downright bewildering. Concentrating specifically on what it is that makes the subject difficult to grasp, these books explain and explore key themes and ideas, guiding the reader towards a thorough understanding of demanding material.
Clayton Koelb is the Guy B. Johnson Professor of German and Comparative Literature and Chair of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA.
1. Why You Might Be Perplexed; 2. A Short Life of Franz K.; 3. A Survey of Kafka's Literary Estate; 4. The Stories and Fragments; 5. The Novels; Bibliography: Suggested Further Reading; Index.