Kafka's last trial
When Franz Kafka died in 1924, his loyal friend and champion Max Brod could not bring himself to fulfil Kafka's last instruction: to burn his remaining manuscripts. Instead, Brod devoted the rest of his life to canonizing Kafka as the most prescient chronicler of the twentieth century. By betraying … LES MER Kafka's last wish, Brod twice rescued his legacy - first from physical destruction, and then from obscurity. But that betrayal also led to an international legal battle over which country could lay claim to Kafka's legacy: Germany, where Kafka's own sister perished in the Holocaust and where he would have suffered a similar fate had he remained, or Israel? At once a brilliant biographical portrait of Kafka and Brod and the influential group of writers and intellectuals known as the Prague Circle, Kafka's Last Trial offers a gripping account of the controversial trial in Israeli courts - brimming with dilemmas legal, ethical, and political - that determined the fate of the manuscripts Brod had rescued when he fled with Kafka's papers at the last possible moment from Prague to Palestine in 1939. It describes a wrenching escape from Nazi invaders as the gates of Europe closed; of a love affair between exiles stranded in Tel Aviv; and two countries whose national obsessions with overcoming the traumas of the past came to a head in a fascinating and hotly contested trial. Ultimately, Benjamin Balint invites us to question: who owns a literary legacy - the country of one's language and birth or of one's cultural and religious affinities - and what nation can claim a right to it. LES MINDRE
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