A rich life after death

At the fair Non/fiction the Israeli writer Benjamin Balint spoke about the creation of his book “Kafka. The life after death. The fate of the heritage of the great writer”

Franz Kafka, like many great men, became famous after death. But this happened only due to the fact that Max Brod, a well — known writer and executor of Kafka, the latter disobeyed the wishes of his best friend and burned his manuscripts.

“Why, max Brod, not someone else, Kafka bequeathed to destroy all the papers?” — with this issue began the meeting.

— Kafka was a very intelligent man, so he knew that Max Brod least likely to do as he wants — not without humor replied Balint.

— How do you appreciate the gesture of max Brod?
— Max Brod saved Kafka himself. In 1939 he managed to leave Prague before the war and the only thing he took with him was the manuscript of Kafka. He saved his work from the fate that awaited them under a fascist government. Every day of my remaining life while in tel Aviv, he along with his friend and Secretary Esther Hoff dedicated to the care and editing of the texts of Kafka.

— What do you think — Eva Hoff, which is considered the widow of the Ghost of Kafka, win or lose his inheritance?
— Esther Hoff after the death of Brod, inherited all the manuscripts he had brought from Prague. After on gave them to her daughter eve. Esther and eve did what did Max Brod — sold some of the manuscripts from this collection, for example, the novel Kafka’s “the trial” went to London for two million dollars.

— Why are you even interested in this story?
I came on the court, which decided the fate of the legacy of Kafka in 2016 in Israel. I was just amazed. On the one hand, it was a purely legal proceeding, the other — the struggle of three ideologies. On the one hand it was a private person Eva Hoff, with another — the German national archive, who said that since Kafka wrote in German, he belongs to Germany, and Israeli archives, who claimed that Kafka, as a Jewish writer, should belong to the Jewish state. It was a very emotional affair, in the process has interfered with the lawyers — a German lawyer insisted on the fact that Kafka was not in Israel, Israeli — on the fact that Germany is the last place can be the manuscript of Kafka: “Look what they did to his sisters during the war!” Attorney Hoff said that this is an attempt to take away private property.

— How long have you been working on this book? And how did you work on it?
The work took me four years, although the court was more than nine years — from 2007 to 2016. For me the most important was to trust Eva Hoff — the last heir of Franz Kafka. His manuscript was worth millions, but she didn’t trust anyone.

Eva Hoff died this year? How to resolve the court?
— Yes, she died in August of this year.Well, ready to give you the spoiler of my book, the Supreme court held that all the manuscripts remain in the national library of Jerusalem, and the Hoff will not receive any compensation.

Right now in Jerusalem sorted box after box of materials, which until now has not been seen. And on the screen in the pavilion of the fair Non/fiction for the first time outside of Israel was publicly displayed page of the document Franz Kafka — book-dictionary, through which he taught Hebrew.

— A set of words is very unusual. In the upper right corner is written the word “genius”, you can still see the word “tuberculosis” and “the informer” — said Benjamin Balint.

— What are the difficulties you faced while writing this book?
The situation was difficult, because the question was not about the cost of manuscripts, and national prestige. For Germany, it was a rare chance to get the archives of the Jewish writer who wrote in German before the war. For Israel — a rare chance to claim that the writers of the Jews, who never set foot in the Diaspora, still belong to them.

Most interesting is that he is Franz Kafka denied their affiliation to the Jewish people. In 1916, exactly a hundred years before this court, he wrote to his fiancée the following: “maybe you Can tell me who I am, in fact, one author writes that is because art is something fundamentally German, and on the other hand, in the article, max said that the stories of Kafka are the most typical expression of our time”. If it is predicted that it will assign different directions.

— Whether the decision of the court the act of nationalization of private property?
— No court or the judge thought, was whether the rights of Max Brod, who in the day of the funeral of Franz Kafka took these manuscripts. I and some friends Eva Hoff was very afraid that after such a judgment it will simply burn these manuscripts like Franz Kafka. So I’m glad that they are now available to us researchers.

— What cultural value are his manuscript for mankind?
— Kafka is one of those rare writers who from his name was formed the adjective “Kafkaesque”. And it is clear even to those who have not read Kafka. The theme of the human face of an indifferent bureaucracy, filled with a sense of guilt will always be with us.

Sounded unexpected question from the audience: “And how would he Franz Kafka, in your opinion, would react to this situation?”
— First, that it would be very amused, with a smile, said Balint. — Actually, Kafka was a rich life after death, many people wondered what would have happened if he hadn’t died of tuberculosis, wrote this about the novels. In one of these fictional works of Max Brod, Kafka meets fictional, who moved to Israel, lived there long and happily, and he left many manuscripts in German as in Hebrew.

Kafka: the trial is over

Kafka, the eternal fiancé