The Complete Stories brings together all of Kafka’s stories, from the classic tales such as “The Metamorphosis,” “In the Penal Colony,” and “A Hunger Artist” to shorter pieces and fragments that Max Brod, Kafka’s literary executor, released after Kafka’s death. With the exception of his three novels, the whole of Kafka’s narrative work is included in this volume.
About the Author
Franz Kafka was born to Jewish parents in Bohemia in 1883. Kafka s father was a luxury goods retailer who worked long hours and as a result never became close with his son. Kafka s relationship with his father greatly influenced his later writing and directly informed his Brief an den Vater (Letter to His Father). Kafka had a thorough education and was fluent in both German and Czech. As a young man, he was hired to work at an insurance company where he was quickly promoted despite his desire to devote his time to writing rather than insurance. Over the course of his life, Kafka wrote a great number of stories, letters, and essays, but burned the majority of his work before his death and requested that his friend Max Brod burn the rest. Brod, however, did not fulfill this request and published many of the works in the years following Kafka s death of tuberculosis in 1924. Thus, most of Kafka s works were published posthumously, and he did not live to see them recognized as some of the most important examples of literature of the twentieth century. Kafka s works are considered among the most significant pieces of existentialist writing, and he is remembered for his poignant depictions of internal conflicts with alienation and oppression. Some of Kafka s most famous works include The Metamorphosis, The Trial and The Castle.
John Updike was born in 1932, in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker, and since 1957 has lived in Massachusetts. He is the author of fifty-odd previous books, including twenty novels and numerous collections of short stories, poems, and criticism. His fiction has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Award, and the Howells Medal.
“[Kafka] spoke for millions in their new unease; a century after his birth, he seems the last holy writer, and the supreme fabulist of modern man’s cosmic predicament.”
—from the Foreword by John Updike
“The distinction Kafka, or his heroes, draw between this world and the world does not imply that there are two different worlds, only that our habitual conceptions of reality are not the true conception.”
—W. H. Auden
“An important book, valuable in itself and absolutely fascinating. The stories are dreamlike, allegorical, symbolic, parabolic, grotesque, ritualistic, nasty, lucent, extremely personal, ghoulishly detached, exquisitely comic, numinous, and prophetic.”
—The New York Times