The story itself, Kafka's most famous, hardly needs describing - a travelling salesman, Gregor Samsa, wakes up one morning to find he has been transformed into an enormous bug - but Faber Finds is offering something rare, the very first English translation which has been out of print for over sixty years.
This pioneering translation by A. L. Lloyd was first published in 1937. A. L. Lloyd was multi-talented: ethnomusicologist, journalist, radio and television broadcaster, and translator. In this his centenary year (2008) Faber Finds is celebrating him in his first and last roles. His major work, Folk Song in England, is being reissued as are his Lorca and Kafka translations. As well as both being published in 1937 both were firsts; has anyone else had Spanish and German translations published in the same year?
It should also be mentioned that A. L. Lloyd was a lifelong communist. It is a delicious irony therefore that one of the first reviews of the Kafka was by Evelyn Waugh in the short-lived Night and Day; it was a good one too.
A. L. Lloyd (1908-82) was born in London and emigrated to Australia in his teens, where he worked as a farmhand and shepherd. It was in Australia that he first became interested in folk song. On his return to England, he was introduced to a group of left-wing intellectuals that included Dylan Thomas and A. L. Morton, who in turn led him to the Communist Party, of which he was to become a life-long member. Along with Ewan MacColl, Lloyd was instrumental in the British post-war folk revival, as a prolific writer, performer and broadcaster. Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was one of the major writers of the twentieth-century. He was born to a middle-class Jewish family in Prague. His unique body of writing is among the most influential in Western literature.