Why You Should Read Kafka Before You Waste Your Life

James Hawes

St. Martin's Press

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Everybody knows the face of Franz Kafka, whether they have read any of his works or not. And that brooding face carries instant images: bleak and threatening visions of an inescapable bureaucracy, nightmarish transformations, uncanny predictions of the Holocaust. But while Kafka’s genius is beyond question, the image of a mysterious, sickly, shadowy figure who was scarcely known in his own lifetime bears no resemblance to the historical reality. Franz Kafka was a popular and well-connected millionaire’s son who enjoyed good-time girls, brothels, and expensive porn, who landed a highly desirable state job that pulled in at least $90,000 a year in today’s dollars for a six-hour day, who remained a loyal member of Prague’s German-speaking Imperial elite right to the end, and whose work was backed by a powerful literary clique.

Here are some of the prevalent Kafka myths:

*Kafka was the archetypal genius neglected in his lifetime.

*Kafka was lonely.

*Kafka was stuck in a dead-end job, struggling to find time to write.

*Kafka was tormented by fear of sex.

*Kafka was unbendingly honest about himself to the women in his life – too honest.

*Kafka had a terrible, domineering father who had no understanding of his son’s needs.

*Kafka’s style is mysterious and opaque.

*Kafka takes us into bizarre worlds.

James Hawes wants to tear down the critical walls which generations of gatekeepers---scholars, biographers, and tourist guides---have built up around Franz Kafka, giving us back the real man and the real significance of his splendid works. And he'll take no prisoners in the process.

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Book Excerpts

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INTRODUCTION

THE FACE, THE FACTS AND THE PORN, OR WHY WE MUST STOP CONDESCENDING TO THE PAST

The Face of Kafka

You know the face I mean, of course. Everyone does. There are many photos of Dr. Franz Kafka (1883–1924) but, as far as Prague souvenirs and English-language biographies go, this might as well be the only one.

Now, this is very unusual for a writer. Who would bet on being able to finger Flaubert, Stendhal, Dostoyevsky, James, Conrad, and Proust in an identification parade of random upper-middle-class men of the past? And why should anyone care to?

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Praise for Why You Should Read Kafka Before You Waste Your Life

Praise for James Hawes

Praise for Why You Should Read Kafka Before You Waste Your Life

"A magnificent tour de force. Illuminating, irreverent, iconoclastic. Brilliant!"---Dr. Peter Thompson, Director of the Centre for Ernst Bloch Studies, and author of The Crisis of the German Left

Praise for Speak for England

“We have the British to thank for the TV reality show, so it’s only fitting that they can do a brilliant parody of the bloody thing as well. We Yanks will find it great fun.”---Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“This creative American debut novel combines the TV shows Survivor and Lost with the novel Lord of the Flies . . . a harsh satirical look at both the age of reality TV and the dangers of romanticizing the past.”---Booklist

“James Hawes has matured into a wonderful satirist . . . a comic novelist of considerable stature.”---The Guardian

“The tone of the narrative is pitch-perfect. Hawes’s most impressive achievement is the political satire which kicks in toward the end.”---The Observer

“Comparisons with Evelyn Waugh are not misplaced.”---Sunday Telegraph

“You never want to stop turning the pages . . . each page is funny, sophisticated, and soul-wrenchingly accurate.”---Scotland on Sunday

Praise for A White Merc With Fins

“A major debut novel of the year. Highly recommended.” ---Library Journal

“From first-time author Hawes, one of the most endearingly caustic---yet still deftly sincere---novels to come out of Britain since Martin Amis’s The Rachel Papers. Hawes has leapt right into a comic league all his own. Good to the last drop.”---Kirkus Reviews

 


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About the Author

James Hawes

James Hawes is a novelist and Kafka scholar with a Ph.D. in German literature. He is the author of A White Merc with Fins, White Powder, Green Light, and Speak for England. As an undergraduate at Oxford, Hawes was allowed---uniquely---to handle the original manuscript of Kafka's The Castle. He lives in Cardiff, Wales.

James Hawes

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Available Formats and Book Details

Why You Should Read Kafka Before You Waste Your Life
James Hawes

Hardcover

Hardcover
St. Martin's Press
July 2008
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780312376512
ISBN10: 0312376510
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 256 pages, Includes b&w photos and illustrations throughout
$23.95

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
July 2008
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429988834
ISBN10: 1429988835
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 256 pages, Includes black-and-white photographs and illustrations throughout
$7.99
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