A superb new translation of Kafka’s classic stories, authoritatively annotated and beautifully illustrated.
Selected Stories presents new, exquisite renderings of short works by one of the indisputable pillars of twentieth-century literature. Award-winning translator and scholar Mark Harman offers perhaps the most sensitive English rendering yet of Franz Kafka’s unique German prose—terse, witty, laden with ambiguities and double meanings. With an in-depth biographical introduction, as well as notes illuminating the stories and placing them in historical context, this volume pairs representative critical perspectives with masterpieces by a writer whose influence remains inescapable a century after his death.
Included are sixteen stories, arranged chronologically to convey a sense of Kafka’s artistic development. Some, like “The Judgment,” “In the Penal Colony,” “A Hunger Artist,” and “The Transformation” (usually, though misleadingly, translated as “The Metamorphosis”), represent the pinnacle of Kafka’s achievement. Accompanying annotations highlight the wordplay and cultural allusions of the original German, pregnant with irony and humor that readers in English have often missed.
Although Kafka has frequently been cast as a loner, in part because of his quintessential depictions of modern alienation, he had a number of close companions. Harman draws on Kafka’s diaries, extensive correspondence, and engagement with early twentieth-century debates about Darwinism, psychoanalysis, and Zionism to construct a rich portrait of Kafka in his world. A work of both art and scholarship, Selected Stories transforms our understanding and appreciation of a singular imagination.