The Castle: A New Translation Based on the Restored Text
DescriptionFranz 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
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.
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"[Harman's translation is] semantically accurate to an admirable degree, faithful to Kafka's nuances, and responsive to the tempo of his sentences and to the larger music of his paragraph construction. For the general reader or for the student, it will be the translation of preference for some time to come."
--J. M. Coetzee, The New York Review of Books
"The limits of Kafka's messianic vision correspond to the great skepticism with which he regarded the possibility of transcending the human predicament . . . At precisely the point when K. draws closest to his own salvation and to the salvation that he could offer the rest of the world, he is also farthest away from it. At precisely the moment when his spirit is called, K. is asleep."
--W. G. Sebald
--Mark M. Anderson "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 "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 "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."