Franz Kafka and His Prague Contexts
Charles University's Karolinum Press has just published a new study on Franz Kafka and his hometown Prague. It was written by Marek Nekula, member of the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies as well as Professor for Bohemian and Westslavic Studies at the University of Regensburg. The book focuses on the importance of Prague as sociotope for Kafka’s literary work.
Franz Kafka is by far the Prague author most widely read and admired internationally. However, his reception in Czechoslovakia, launched by the Liblice conference in 1963, has been conflicted. While rescuing Kafka from years of censorship and neglect, Czech critics of the 1960s “overwrote” his German and Jewish literary and cultural contexts in order to focus on his Czech cultural connections. Seeking to rediscover Kafka’s multiple backgrounds, in Franz Kafka and His Prague Contexts Marek Nekula focuses on Kafka’s Jewish social and literary networks in Prague, his German and Czech bilingualism, and his knowledge of Yiddish and Hebrew. Kafka’s bilingualism is discussed in the context of contemporary essentialist views of a writer’s “organic” language and identity. Nekula also pays particular attention to Kafka’s education, examining his studies of Czech language and literature as well as its role in his intellectual life. The book concludes by asking how Kafka “read” his urban environment, looking at the readings of Prague encoded in his fictional and non-fictional texts.
Abstract und Cover: © Karolinum Press/The University of Chicago Press