Max Brod - Publication of Kafka's Work

Publication of Kafka's Work

On Kafka's death in 1924 Brod was the administrator of the estate and preserved his unpublished works from incineration despite what was stipulated in Kafka's will. He defended this course by saying that when Kafka asked him to burn his papers, he told him he would not carry out this wish: "Franz should have appointed another executor if he had been absolutely and finally determined that his instructions should stand." Before even a line of Kafka's most famous work had been made public, Brod had already praised him as "the greatest poet of our time", ranking with Goethe or Tolstoy. As Kafka's works were posthumously published (The Trial arrived in 1925, followed by The Castle in 1926 and Amerika in 1927), this early positive assessment was bolstered by more general critical acclaim.

When Brod fled Prague in 1939, he took with him a suitcase of Kafka's papers, many of them unpublished notes, diaries, sketches, and so forth. Although some of these materials were later edited and published in 6 volumes of collected works, much of them remained unreleased. Upon his death, this trove of materials was passed to Esther Hoffe, who maintained most of them until her own death in 2007 (one original maunuscript of The Trial was auctioned in 1988 for $2 million). Due to certain ambiguities regarding Brod's wishes, the proper disposition of the materials is now being litigated. On one side is the National Library of Israel, which believes that Brod passed the papers to Esther as an executor of his actual intent to have the papers donated to the institution. On the other side are Esther's daughters, who claim that Brod passed the papers to their mother as a pure inheritance which should be theirs. The sisters have announced their intention to sell the materials to the Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach, Germany.

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