Hidden Kafka papers revealed to Israeli court

Fri Feb 25, 2011 1:43pm EST
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By Maayan Lubell

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Writings by Franz Kafka and his friend Max Brod which have been hidden away for decades have been brought to light at an Israeli court and could reveal more on the life of one of the 20th century's greatest authors.

The long-awaited inventory, obtained by Reuters, details contents of safes in Tel Aviv and Zurich. It was submitted on Thursday to a family court in Tel Aviv where a legal battle is being waged over ownership of Max Brod's estate.

Kafka's "The Trial," "The Castle" and "Amerika" were published after his death when Brod, his close friend and biographer, ignored the writer's dying wish to burn all unpublished work.

In 1939 Brod fled the Nazis, taking the last train out of Prague with a suitcase of Kafka papers under his arm. After his death his estate was passed to his secretary Esther Hoffe, who placed some of the archive in Tel Aviv and Zurich safes.

The literary trove includes manuscripts of "Wedding Preparations in the Country" and other short stories, some Kafka diaries and correspondence, and Brod's unpublished diaries.

Ritchie Robertson, professor of German at Oxford University is eager to see the Kafka papers, but says Brod's own writings were the real subject of interest.

"Potentially the most interesting item is Max Brod's own diaries...used for his own biography of Kafka, in which he quoted numerous passages about Kafka from his diaries. But there may be more," Robertson told Reuters in an e-mail.

THE TRIAL   Continued...