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Biography: general, Prose: non-fiction

* First general biography in UK for twenty years of one of the defining writers of the 20th century - Franz Kafka.

This gripping biography of the great Czech novelist, diarist and short story writer chronicles Kafka's entire (if tragically curtailed) life (1883-1924), but it focuses upon the writer's relationship to his father and his inheritance as a member of the Jewish mercantile bourgeoisie in Prague. Born into a German-speaking Jewish family, Kafka was a subject of the Austro-Hungarian empire until 1919 yet through his work he is one of the most modern of writers. While previous works have concentrated on Kafka and his women, Nicholas Murray will concentrate on his extraordinary relationship with his father which found its most eloquent literary expression in the story 'The Judgement' written in 1912 when Kafka was twenty-nine:in a reverse Oedipal move, the father condemns his son to death by drowning. This work is essential for an understanding of the intensely private and complex Kafka and the kind of writer he turned out to be - the creator in THE CASTLE, THE TRIAL and METAMORPHOSIS (the dazzling short story whose hero wakes up to find himself transformed into a giant insect) of some of the defining literature of the 20th century.

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Praise for Kafka

  • [An] admirable and conscientious biography. - LITERARY REVIEW

  • Nicholas Murray's KAFKA restores the great writer to the human world, not just of relationships, but of actual societies, thus delivering his masterpieces from appropriation by theological and philosophical exegetes. - TLS

  • Nicholas Murray does what all decent biographers should do: leaves the reader hungry to fo back to the haunting and permanently elusive work that makes the unhappy life so extraordinary. - SUNDAY TIMES

  • Kafka's writing didn't meet his inner demands for perfection...But when Murray quotes from him, you want to rush off and read more instantly. This makes KAFKA the best kind of literary biography. - INDEPENDENT

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Nicholas Murray

Nicholas Murray was born in Liverpool in 1952. He has written acclaimed biographies of Bruce Chatwin, Matthew Arnold and the poet Andrew Marvell. He is married and lives in the Welsh Marches.

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