Franz Kafka is a worldly-known writer of the 20th century. Born in Prague his work, including "The Metamorphosis," are legendary among Japanese fans as well. His manuscripts may soon be revealed after a decade-long battle over his literary estate.
Kafka bequeathed his writings to Max Brod, his longtime friend, editor and publisher, shortly before his death from tuberculosis in 1924. He asked for his writings to be burned unread, but Brod ignored his wishes and published most of what was in his possession – including the novels The Trial, The Castle and Amerika, which made the previously little-known author posthumously one of the most celebrated writers of the 20th century.
But Brod didn’t publish everything and on his death in 1968, he instructed his personal secretary, Esther Hoffe, to transfer the Kafka papers to an academic institution. Hoffe instead kept the papers stashed away and sold some. The original manuscript of The Trial was auctioned at Sotheby’s in London.
When Hoffe died in 2008, she left the collection to her two daughters, who later hid the works in bank vaults in Israel and Switzerland.
Israel’s supreme court has already stripped an Israeli family of its collection of Kafka’s manuscripts. A district court in Zurich upheld Israeli verdicts recently, ruling that several safe-deposit boxes in the Swiss city could be opened and their contents shipped to Israel’s national library.
Israel’s National Library claims Kafka’s papers as cultural assets that belong to the Jewish people. The papers will be properly handled and may soon be made available to the wider public in Israel and the world. https://bit.ly/2IDQsbS