Home > NewsRelease > Franz Kafka’s Diaries and Me
Text
Franz Kafka’s Diaries and Me
From:
Richard Gottlieb -- Toy Industry Expert Richard Gottlieb -- Toy Industry Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: New York, NY
Sunday, January 15, 2023

 

Why am I writing a review of the newly released Kafka Diaries? There is a reason, but it’s more of a story.

Roughly a month ago, I received an email from the publisher, Shocken Books, about releasing a new translation of Franz Kafka’s diaries. If you will recall, Franz Kafka was one of the great writers of the 20th century and a weird guy.

For example, one of his masterpieces, The Metamorphosis, is about a salesman (maybe even a toy salesman, but we don’t know) who wakes up one morning and finds he has turned into a giant cockroach.

Kafka’s other notable works include The Castle (about a man who keeps trying to reach the authorities but is continually stymied by bureaucracy) and The Trial (about a man who is charged with a crime but is never told what his offense is).

Kafka’s themes are so unique that a word was invented to describe a situation that bears the weirdness of a Kafka work. Here is how the Cambridge Dictionary defines the term:

Extremelyunpleasant, frightening, and confusing, and similar to situationsdescribed in the novels of Franz Kafka:

He is caught up in a Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare.

Cambridge Dictionary

As it turns out, the publisher wanted me to review the new book. I responded that I write about the toy industry. The publisher, in turn, pointed out that I had written about Kafka. “I did,” I thought. Yet, indeed I had.

I published an article, “Kafka and the Lost Doll,” in June 2019. Here is how I described his interaction with the little girl who lost the doll:

coming upon a little girl crying because she had lost her doll. Kafka felt sympathy for the child and told her that her doll was not lost but was away on a trip. Over three weeks, he sent her letters daily, supposedly, from the doll.

Kafka and the Lost Doll,, Richard Gottllieb, Global Toy News, June 29, 2021

The publisher told me that they liked what I had written and wanted me to write a review. And now, I will commence the review.

THE DIARIES OF FRANZ KAFKA – TRANSLATED BY ROSS BENJAMIN

The Diaries of Franz Kafka is a new translation by Ross Benjamin. Kafka kept a diary between the years 1909 and 1923. He wrote down his thoughts, dreams, experiences, and complete and unfinished stories. Although we think of Kafka as melancholy, there are occasions for laughter in the Diary. There are also hints of a hidden life.

The diaries were, therefore, extremely personal to Kafka, and he had never intended to have them published. Despite his wishes, the Diaries were published by his friend, Max Brod, after Kafka’s death in 1924.

Max Brod felt that for the work to be published, he had to ensure that it did not damage Kafka’s literary and personal reputation. As a result, Brod attempted to smooth out the roughness of a manuscript that Kafka had never intended to publish. He changed the spelling, grammar, and style. He also left out hints of Kafka’s possible homosexuality and other statements deemed unsettling to the reading public of the time.

Mr. Benjamin, in his translation, returns to Diaries to their original format, with spelling errors and personal peccadilloes included. The result is a chance to understand Kafka, a flawed man whose work started, stopped, and improved with time.

This book is for someone either fascinated by Kafka or interested in the writer’s process of developing a work of art. It is also for those who want to know more about Kafka’s personal life.

One final note. It seems that Kafka did write a short story about a toy. The story, The Top, is about a philosopher who believes he can understand the world if he can understand what makes a top spin. As with any Kafka story, he is frustrated by the top stopping its motion the moment he picks it up.

Richard Gottlieb

Global Toy Experts / Global Toy News

646 675 3019

richard@globaltoyexperts.com

 

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Richard Gottlieb
Title: CEO
Group: Richard Gottlieb and Associates, LLC
Dateline: New York, NY United States
Cell Phone: 646-675-3019
Jump To Richard Gottlieb -- Toy Industry Expert Jump To Richard Gottlieb -- Toy Industry Expert
Contact Click to Contact