Winner of the MLA's Lois Roth Translation Award
Franz Kafka's final novel tells the haunting tale of a man known only as K. and of his relentless, unavailing struggle with an inscrutable authority in order to gain entrance to the Castle. Although Kafka seemed to consider The Castle a failure, critics, in wrestling with its enigmatic meaning, have recognized it as one of the great novels of our century.
Unfinished at Kafka's death in 1924, the manuscript of The Castle was edited for publication by Kafka's friend and literary executor, Max Brod. Both Brod's edition and the English-language translation of it that was prepared by Willa and Edwin Muir in 1930 have long been considered flawed.
This new edition of Kafka's terrifying and comic masterpiece is the product of an international team of experts who went back to Kafka's original manuscript and notes to create an edition that is as close as possible to the way the author left it. The Times Literary Supplement hailed their work, saying that it will "decisively alter our understanding of Kafka and render previous editions obsolete."
Mark Harman's brilliant translation closely follows the fluidity and breathlessness of the sparsely punctuated original manuscript, revealing levels of comedy, energy, and visual power that have not been previously accessible to English-language readers.
W. H. Auden likened Kafka to Dante, Shakespeare, and Goethe as the single most important writer of his age. Here, in this new edition, is a Kafka for the twenty-first century.
PRAISE FOR The Castle:
"The new Schocken edition of The Castle represents a major and long-awaited event in English-language publishing. It is a wonderful piece of news for all Kafka readers who, for more than half a century, have had to rely on flawed, superannuated editions. Mark Harman is to be commended for his success in capturing the fresh, fluid, almost breathless style of Kafka's original manuscript, which leaves the reader hanging in mid-sentence."
--Mark M. Anderson, Columbia University
"The Castle, published here for the first time in 1930, was the first Kafka to arrive in America. After the war, Hannah Arendt remarked that The Castle might finally be comprehensible to the generation of the forties, who had had the occasion to watch their world become Kafkaesque. What will the generation of the nineties make of The Castle, now that its full message has arrived? Here is the masterpiece behind the masterpiece."
--Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, Haverford College
"Sparkles with comedy, with zest, and with a fresh visual power, which in the Muir translation were indistinct or lost. This is not just a new, brilliantly insightful, sensitive, and stylish translation, it is a new Castle, and it is a pleasure to read."
--Christopher Middleton, University of Texas at Austin
"This is the closest to Kafka's original novel and intention that any translation could get, and what is more, it is eminently readable. With this exceptional translation, the time for a new Kafka in English has finally come."
--Egon Schwartz, Washington University, St. Louis
"Harman has performed and invaluable service for English and American readers not only by making The Castle available in a textual version that is a better approximation of its author's intentions, but also by conveying far more effectively than his predecessors the challenging and uncompromising character of Kafka's prose."
--The New Republic
"Unquestionably the edition for those in the English-speaking world who cannot read the German original. . . Publication of the new Castle is a signal event in publishing history and Kafka scholarship."
The son of a well-to-do merchant, Franz Kafka was born in Prague in 1883 and died of tuberculosis in a sanitorium near Vienna in 1924. After earning a law degree in 1906, he worked most of his adult life at the Workers Accident Insurance Company for the Kingdom of Bohemia in Prague. Only a small portion of his writings were published during his lifetime; most of them, including the three unfinished novels, Amerika, The Trial, and The Castle, were published posthumously.
Mark Harman holds a Ph.D. from Yale University and has taught German and Irish literature at Oberlin and Dartmouth. In addition to writing scholarly essays on Kafka and other modern authors, he has edited and co-translated Robert Walser Rediscovered: Stories, Fairy-Tale Plays, and Critical Responses and has translated Soul of the Age: Selected Letters of Hermann Hesse, 1891-1962.