Franz Kafka

Prague-born writer, 1883-1924

"Franz Kafka is regarded as one of the most influential authors of the 20th century. Most of his works, such as ""Die Verwandlung"" (""The Metamorphosis""), Der Process (The Trial), and Das Schloss (The Castle), are filled with the themes and archetypes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality, parent–child conflict, characters on a terrifying quest, labyrinths of bureaucracy, and mystical transformations. Albert Camus, Gabriel García Márquez and Jean-Paul Sartre are among the writers influenced by Kafka's work; the term Kafkaesque has entered the English language to describe existential situations like those in his writing."

Source: Wikipedia

Kafka, Franz

writer (1883–1924). Autograph letter signed (“Kafka”). Prague. 8vo. 3½ pp.
$ 136,452 / 120.000 € (76003)

A deeply personal, eloquently critical letter to his friend Franz Werfel (1890–1945), who had just visited him. Written in German from his sickbed, the letter, which was probably never sent, contains a discussion Werfel’s play Schweiger, which had been a severe disappointment to Kafka: “Dear Werfel, After the way I behaved at your last visit, you could not come again. I realized that. And I would surely have written to you before this were it not that letter-writing has gradually become as hard for me as talking, and that even mailing letters is troublesome, for I already had a letter all written for you.

But it is useless to go over old things. Where would it end, if one were never to stop defending all one’s old wretched mistakes and apologizing for them. So let me only say this, Werfel, which you yourself must know: If what was involved here was only an ordinary dislike, then it might possibly have been easier to formulate and moreover might have been so unimportant that I might well have been able to keep it to myself. But it was a horror, and justifying that is difficult: One seems stubborn and tough and cross­grained, where one is only unhappy. You are surely one of the leaders of this generation, which is not meant as flattery and cannot serve as flattery of anyone, for many a man can lead this society, so lost in its bogs. Hence you are not only a leader but something more (you yourself have said something similar in the fine introduction to Brand’s posthumous works, fine right down to the phrase ‘joyous will to deception’) and one follows your course with burning suspense. And now this play. lt may have every possible merit, from the theatrical to the highest, but it is a retreat from leadership; there is not even leadership there, rather a betrayal of the generation, a glossing over, a trivializing, and therefore a cheapening of their sufferings. – But now I am prattling on, as I did before, am incapable of thinking out and expressing the crux of the matter. Let it be so. Were it not that my sympathy with you, my deeply selfish sympathy with you, is so great, I would not even be prattling. – And now the invitation; in written form, it assumes an even realer and more magnificent appearance. Obstacles are my illness, the doctor (he definitely rules out Semmering once again, though he is not so definite about Venice in the early spring), and I suppose money too (I would have to manage on a thousand crowns a month). But these are not the chief obstacles. Between lying stretched out on my Prague bed and strolling erect in the Piazza San Marco, the distance is so great that only imagination can barely span it. But these are only generalizations. Beyond that, to imagine that for example I might go to dinner with other people in Venice (I can only eat alone) – even the imagination is staggered. But nonetheless I cling to the invitation, and thank you for it many times. Perhaps I will see you in January. Farewell [...]” (translation). Provenance: auctioned at Stargardt in 1999 (sale 671, 30 March, lot 222), and again in 2001 (sale 675, 13 Nov., lot 226). Last in the Collections Aristophile. ¶ Published (with departures from the original) in Briefe (ed. Max Brod), S. Fischer 1958, pp. 424 f. English translation published in: Letters to Friends, Family, and Editor (NY, Schocken Books, 1977)..

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Kafka, Franz

writer (1883-1924). "Ein Traum". Typed manuscript signed ("Franz Kafka"). [Prague. Folio (338 x 211 mm). 2½ pp. on rectos only of a bifolium and a single sheet. With six autograph emendations (including the insertion of the word "und").
$ 142,138 / 125.000 € (44937/BN30721)

Signed typescript of Kafka's short story "Ein Traum" ("A Dream"). "Josef K. träumte...": Kafka's eerie evocation of a dream, in which Josef K. walks on a beautiful day in a cemetery, only to be confronted by his own freshly-dug grave. Although the use of the character "Josef K." suggests a connection with Kafka's novel "The Trial", "Ein Traum" does not obviously conform to the structure and narrative viewpoint of the novel, and seems always to have been a distinct work. The piece first appeared in the collection "Das jüdische Prag", published in Prague by the editors of the Zionist journal "Selbstwehr" early in 1917.

It is apparent that the present, previously untraced typescript is the one sent in by Kafka for this purpose: not only does the recorded provenance go back to the editor of "Selbstwehr", Siegmund Kaznelson, but the text of the typescript conforms precisely with the variants of the "Das jüdische Prag" version (notably "anderen" for "andern" on f. 2, lines 22f.). Two other typescripts of the story, one known only from a photocopy, are recorded by the editors of the "Schriften" (Drucke zu Lebzeiten, Apparatband, S. Fischer, 1992, pp. 356ff.): as those, the present version bears minor typographical corrections in Kafka's hand; the paper size of the present typescript is very close to that of their T1. - With printer's annotations ("½ fett Petit", corrected to "Einfache Petit") and number "3" in pencil at upper margin of p.1, as well as a note of publication in "Selbstwehr. Das jüd[ische] Prag". Provenance: Submitted by Kafka to the Zionist periodical "Selbstwehr", at the time edited by Siegmund Kaznelson (1893-1959). Kaznelson was married to Lisa Weltsch, whose cousin Felix was a close friend of Kafka's and was to serve as editor of the "Selbstwehr" from 1919 to 1938. Presented to an unidentified collector by Kaznelson in Berlin, March/April 1936 (note in Hebrew at foot of manuscript); last in a distinguished Israeli collection. Extremely rare: no comparable Kafka typescript is recorded in international auction records of the past four decades..

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Kafka, Franz

Tschechoslowakischer Reisepass mit eigenh. U. ("Dr. F. Kafka František").
Autograph ist nicht mehr verfügbar

Franz Kafka's last passport, which the writer used for all his international travels during the last two years of his life - including his final one, to the Kierling Sanitarium near Vienna, whence he never would return. A tremendously personal and evocative item of bureaucratic residue, this passport (number 20,000) bears Kafka's written name five times (including his signature), specifies various locations in Germany and Austria, and gives Kafka's physical description (shape of face: "longish"; colour of eyes: "brown-grey") and his profession as an insurance officer. Less than two weeks after the passport was issued, Kafka would be retired due to his tuberculosis. The document's validity was extended twice: first until 16 June 1924, then until the end of that year. Kafka would not live to see either date. - The passport records his summer trip to the Müritz resort on the Baltic Sea as well as his 1923/24 stay in Berlin and his registration at the apartment of Carl Busse's widow in Zehlendorf, where the ailing writer lived with Dora Diamant - the single period in his life during which Kafka shared quarters with another person in a relationship. Passport stamps record Kafka's return to Prague (with Dora) on 17 March; the Austrian visa is on the last stamped page. - Kafka died on June 3rd in the presence of his friend Robert Klopstock (1899-1972), whom he had met as a fellow patient at a Slovakian sanitarium in 1921. Klopstock, by 1924 a medical student, kept the passport and took to with him when he emigrated to the U.S. in 1938. Having found a position as a lung surgeon at Long Island's Triboro Hospital with the help of Thomas Mann and Albert Einstein, he advised Kafka's former publisher Salman Schocken on Kafka's biography and provided him with his Kafka correspondence. Schocken had repeatedly and generously supported the ever-indigent Klopstock; the passport, which reached his office in September 1946 by registered mail, was probably a token of Klopstock's gratitude. It may have been the publisher who removed the now-missing photograph for reproduction. Schocken, who later acquired Kafka's letters to Felice Bauer from Kafka's first fiancée, gave the present item to his friend and former employee Gerda Schulz (1915-2013), whose heirs sold it to the trade. - Slight edge defects; spine beginning to tear; insignificant traces of rusty photo staples.