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From the internationally acclaimed author of The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony and Ka: an utterly original, fascinating interpretation of the work of Franz Kafka that is simultaneously an unprecedented exploration into the mystery of Kafka himself.
What are Kafka’s stories about? Are they dreams? Allegories? Symbols? Things that happen every day? But where and when? Countless answers have been offered, but the question still arouses feelings of acute uncertainty. Many solutions have been proposed, but the essential mystery remains intact. In this remarkable book, Roberto Calasso sets out not to dispel the mystery but to let it be illuminated by its own light. To that end, with his unique vision, imagination, and intellectual acumen, Calasso attempts to enter the flow, the tortuous movement, the physiology of the stories to discover what they are meant to signify and to delve into a puzzling question: why are K. and Josef K.—the protagonists of The Castle and The Trial—so radically different from any other characters in the history of the novel? So, in the end, the most basic question along the way is: Who is K.?
The culmination of the author’ s lifelong fascination with Kafka, K. is a book of significant literary importance, the fourth part in a work in progress of which the previous volumes are The Ruin of Kasch, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, and Ka.
“For such a writer [as Kafka], Calasso is the ideal critic.“ —The New Yorker
“No one could bring more intelligence and cultural range to a fresh encounter with Kafka [than] the erudite and sophisticated Calasso. . . . His prose is a marvel, and K. makes for an exhilarating adventure.” —Frederick Crews, The New York Review of Books
“Engaging. . . . As good an account of the strangeness of Kafka’s world and the reason for its bizarre coherence as anyone has offered.” —The New Republic
“Translucent and revelatory. . . . It’s a measure of Calasso’s accomplishment that his readings feel familiar, as though his erudition were inside us. . . . His tone, while epic, is also welcoming.” —The New York Times Book Review