A new editioncertain to become the new standardof one of the great novels of the 20th century.
The unfinished manuscript of The Castle was discovered after Franz Kafka's death in 1924, and has been known only in the version that his friend Max Brod assembled for the first German edition, published two years later. Scholars have long lamented Brod's editorial "improvements," and have criticized the layers of interpretation introduced by Willa and Edwin Muir in what has been the standard English translation, first published in 1930.
This new edition of Kafka's terrifying and comic masterpiece is based on the new German critical edition, which restored the text by using Kafka's original manuscript and notes. Mark Harman's brilliant translation closely reproduces the fluidity and breathlessness of the sparsely punctuated original manuscript, revealing levels of comedy, energy, and visual power that have not been previously accessible to English-language readers.
Upon his death in 1924, Kafka instructed his literary executor, Max Brod, to destroy all his manuscripts. Wisely refusing his friend's last wishes, Brod edited the uncompleted Castle, along with other unfinished works, ordering the fragments into a coherent whole, and had them published. Brod's interpretation of the work as a novel of personal salvation was accepted and strengthened by Willa and Edward Muir, who translated it into English in 1930. Recent scholarship, less willing to accept Brod's version, has led to a new critical edition of the novel, which was published in German in 1982 and which purports to be closer to Kafka's intentions. Harman's translation represents this edition's first appearance in English. Harman's stated goal as translator is to reproduce as closely as possible Kafka's style, which results in an English that is stranger and denser than the Muirs' elegant work. -- Michael O'Pecko, Towson State University, Maryland