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Amerika: The Missing Person Hardcover – November 18, 2008

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Amerika: The Missing Person + The Castle (Everyman's Library (Cloth))
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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Mark Harman’s translation of The Castle

“Semantically accurate to an admirable degree, faithful to Kafka’s nuances, 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

“There is a great deal to applaud in Harman’s translation. It gives us a much better sense of Kafka’s uncompromising and disturbing originality as a prose master than we have heretofore had in English.”
--Robert Alter, The New Republic

“A major and long-awaited event in English language publishing [and] a wonderful piece of news for all Kafka readers, who, for more than half a century, have had to rely on flawed, superannuated editions. Harman is to be commended for his success in capturing the fresh, fluid, almost breathless style of Kafka’s original manuscript.”
--Professor Mark M. Anderson, Department of Germanic Languages, Columbia University

About the Author

Franz Kafka was born in Prague in 1883 and died of tuberculosis in a sanatorium near Vienna in 1924. He worked most of his adult life at the Worker Accident Insurance Company for the Kingdom of Bohemia in Prague. Only a few of his writings were published during his lifetime; most appeared posthumously.

Mark Harman, a native of Dublin who has written extensively about modern German and Irish literature, is a professor of German and English at Elizabeth College in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania. His translation of The Castle received the Modern Language Association's first Lois Roth Award in 1998.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken; New edition (November 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805242112
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805242119
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,015,724 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Steiner VINE VOICE on February 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Mark Harman's new translation of Kafka's 'Amerika' is both stark and nuanced. This is an invaluable supplement to the body of work that constitutes Kafka's work in that it includes numerous fragments and variations. 'Amerika' is the product of Kafka's fierce imagination-he has thrown Karl Rossmann into a real though still surrealistic environment where the stark realities of modern life are as real and oppressive as they are in our nightmares. After being thrown out by his uncle, Rossmann is forced to become an elevator attendant at a hotel, where he is cast into the arbitrary world of labor and servitude. This is a neglected masterpiece from the great Kafka. Harman has produced an accomplished translation of a deeply perplexing and vibrant text.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Davis-Vautrin on April 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Although considered by many to have been left unfinished by the author, it is unclear why such a conclusion should prevail. This is the touching story of an innocent, "the missing person", who progresses through a series of exiles, each taking the protagonist into stranger and crueler surroundings, and with each the protagonist becoming more distant, more... missing... until, at last (and truly this is not giving away any critical plot line), he joins the Theater of Oklahoma, where absolutely everyone is welcome: a neater and more fitting finale there could not be. Each episode with its own cast of unique characters, captured beautifully in this translation that renders both the humor and sadness, the brutal reality and dreamy implausibility, the impossible simultaneity of levels which is Kafka's genius without equal. But in this book, composed in his youth, we see the author perhaps at his warmest, his healthiest, depicting what may be the quintessential American experience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne on November 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
That Franz Kafka is one of the great modern writers is a general truth. He was a perfectionist and left instructions that all his works be destroyed after his death, but people who understood his talent couldn't let that happen. "Amerika" was a manuscript left unfinished, but in 1927 his friend Max Brod published what he thought was a representation. In the years after there were various attempts to rework the manuscript, and now we have a new translation.

Kafka had not visited America, but there was so much information about America in Germany that he set out to compose his "American Novel." It is the story of a young man who is disowned by his family in Prague for an indescretion and forced to immigrate to America. Right away one knows that the novel is going to be unusual because the Statue of Liberty greets the young man with a sword rather than a torch.

Without going into all the social and political background, the story itself is spellbinding. There are turns in the plot that couldn't be imagined, and the darkness that Kafka weaves is chilling. From the mind of a master, this is a journey that is hard to forget.
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