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Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories Paperback – Deckle Edge, November 14, 1995

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Editorial Reviews Review

How many writers get their own adjective? The work of this terminally alienated master narrator of the subconscious demanded a new descriptor; I guess they gave up and just settled on "Kafkaesque." But if you ever wonder what the original Kafkaesque work was, take a look here. The book contains all of Kafka's short and longer stories -- everything but his three novels. Most of these stories weren't even published during the author's lifetime. The widely-anthologized The Metamorphosis is here, wherein Gregor Samsa awakes from uneasy dreams to find himself insectoidally transformed, as are equally lovely pieces like A Hunger Artist, A Country Doctor and A Little Woman.


“[Kafka] spoke for millions in their new unease; a century after his birth, he seems the last holy writer, and the supreme fabulist of modern man’s cosmic predicament.”
—from the Foreword by John Updike
“The distinction Kafka, or his heroes, draw between this world and the world does not imply that there are two different worlds, only that our habitual conceptions of reality are not the true conception.”
—W. H. Auden
“An important book, valuable in itself and absolutely fascinating. The stories are dreamlike, allegorical, symbolic, parabolic, grotesque, ritualistic, nasty, lucent, extremely personal, ghoulishly detached, exquisitely comic, numinous, and prophetic.”
—The New York Times

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken Books Inc.; Reprint edition (November 14, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805210555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805210552
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

191 of 195 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Fuller on August 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hello All,

I recently purchased this book in faith, though I was also frustrated by the lack of information in the book description. So, I will provide here for you the table of contents so that whoever purchases this book from now on can know exactly what they are getting:
(By the way, the book is beautifully new & well designed, with the edges of the pages torn, not cut.)
When it says the complete stories, it means it. The foreword assures that the book contains "all of the fiction that Kafka committed to publication during his lifetime." That meas his novels, which he did NOT intend to be published but left note in his will to be destroyed, are NOT included: The Trial, America, The Castle. I have put his more famous stories in caps.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Richard Harrold on February 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Until you read Kafka, many of us think we know Kafka based perhaps on anecdotal items we pick up in the media or from others. The mere fact there's the term "Kafkaesque" perhaps causes us to think we know what it means. But it is only when one reads Kafka do you begin to gain some insight into one of the most mysterious and yet hallowed writers of the 20th century.
This volume is really the place to begin. For in it are three of his more widely known novellas: In the Penal Colony, The Judgement, and Metamorphosis. But it is with the other stories that the reader that peruses rather than skims will undoubtedly begin to ask questions. What is Kafka trying to say in such a circuitous manner? What conflict tears at him to write these unusual tales? Because I think most readers will begin to wonder the same, realizing that Kafka felt passionate about something, but chose a metaphoric manner to present his idea so ingenious and subtle that I fear it is lost upon most readers. Clearly, Kafka struggled with something deeply personal. He was engaged twice to the same woman, and called off the engagement twice. And he prefered to live an uneventful, unnoticeable and undemanding life. He ridiculed the bureaucry, yet chose it as his vocation. To me, that is a key element to understanding his stories. And these more obscure tales do more to reveal what is meant by "Kafkaesque" than the grandiose volumes of The Castle, or Amerika. It is clear why so many of his prose strikes one as unfinished (besides the fact most of it was unfinished), because Kafka's own metamorphosis was incomplete. Had he not died from tuberculosis, perhaps he would have solved the conundrum of his personal life. Instead, we are left with these beautiful and mysterious tales that whisper something to us.
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104 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Charles Pinney on April 3, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Complete Stories" has everything the beginning Kafka reader neads to get started. Of course this is required reading for the Kafka enthusiast.
A well thought-out forward by John Updike prepares you for your journey into the amazing and complex mind of Kafka. The book is divided into two sections, one for the longer stories and one for the shorter stories (most of which only take up a page or two).
The stories themselves are great. "The Metamorphisis" is included, in which Gregor Samsa awakens to find himself in the form of a rather large insect! "The Penal Colony", "The Judgment" and "A Country Doctor" are also included.
There's certainly hasn't been an author since Kafka able to play upon the fears and emotions of the human mind, those thoughts playing in out head, when we realize that maybe some of this could happen to us.
If you enjoy "The Complete Stories", be sure to pick up "Amerika", "The Castle" and "The Trial". These are Kafka's three novels and will complete your collection. All very much worth it!
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on September 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
Kafka can be a difficult figure to approach for some. His presence looms for some readers as foreboding as that strange unapproachable structure in The Castle looms for the character in that book. One way to get around this is to learn a little about Kafka's own life, especially his relationship with his father. And also to learn that his economical & concise way with language he learned as a student of law and his fascination to the point of paranoia with bureaucracies of various kinds he may have picked up in his career as an office worker in an insurance company. Kafka may never become all together human to some readers. To those who share his particular temperament, however, he will seem very human and become a favorite though a kind of quiet one that lurks in the fringes of your bookcase. These stories are a great introduction. Though they are all prose works in some cases they seem to possess qualities more often seen in parables than in twentieth-century prose ie: use of symbols & layers of possible meanings being more evocative(though sparse) than specific. His work is certainly pessimistic, his landscapes are oblique, and chances are you will have your own way of looking at Kafka the more you read(and there are a vast array of ways to interpret his work). One interesting reader, Jean Paul Sartre, characterized Kafka's work as "the impossibility of transcendence". His exaggerated worlds(Swift was one of his own favorite authors) do provide interesting glimpses into that very often written about terrain alienation but few have ever delved into it so deeply. After Kafka you may be lead down one of the more interesting paths in the history of literature which includes Nabokov, Borges, Cortazar, Calvino and many many others.
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