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Introducing Kafka Paperback – May 15, 1996

14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

This book is indeed a great introduction to Franz Kafka. Part illustrated biography, part comics adaptation, Introducing Kafka is the perfect starting point for those new to Kafka and a perfect next step for those who have read him for years. Robert Crumb's idiosyncratic illustrations add a new dimension to the already idiosyncratic world of Kafka. Includes adaptations of "The Judgment," "The Trial," "The Castle," "A Hunger Artist," and "The Metamorphosis." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

David Zane Mairowitz is an American writer who lives in London. Robert Crumb is an American artist, illustrator and musician recognized for his satirical view of the American mainstream. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Introducing
  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Totem Books (May 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840461225
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840461220
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #996,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gary Kern on June 25, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a longtime reader of Kafka, I found this book to be an unqualified delight, for it not only reviews his life and work with pinpoint concision, but also portrays it in evocative visual detail. The narrative by Mairowitz is sharp and insightful, with a zesty peppering of invective against pedants and philistines, while Crumb's gloomy pen drawings take the reader's eye into the heart of Prague and into the mind and imagination of its most anxious and self-conscious denizen. It is especially delightful to track down the original photographs that Crumb used for his models, for example in the book Franz Kafka: Pictures of a Life by Klaus Wagenbach, and then to see how he animates the figure of Kafka, presenting him now as an ordinary person in ordinary life (such as exercising by the window or chewing each bite of food more than ten times), now as a cartoon caricature in his own nightmares (zapped out and fleeing a succubus), now as an idealized figure in his fantasies (the healthy workman, the contented farmer). He also contrives to make the characters of Kafka's fiction resemble the author, but only slightly and appropriately. The loves of Kafka's life, especially Milena, emerge from their photographs as sexy, desirable women, then their images echo through his works. Crumb's portrayals of the stories and novels are not mere impressions, but careful and useful illustrations, since some scenes and particulars in Kafka are not easy to visualize, for example the machine in the story "In the Penal Colony." And, of course, Crumb is absolutely fastidious in basing his drawings on historical materials, so that we can see streets, buildings and dress, including uniforms, just as they were at the time.Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Lotto Budweiser on November 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
There's an irreplaceable feeling attached to reading Kafka directly. Furthermore, Kafka himself probably would have hated the idea of images being made of his stories. That being said, I can't think of any better artist than Crumb to illustrate that over-used term "Kafkaesque."

This book is a great introduction - as titled - and a perfect blend in at least two ways: 1) The juxtaposition of Kafka's life and work presents the depth of his stories as well as some of the possible inspirations from his real life - like the role his overbearing father played in his creation of authoritative characters. And 2) as already mentioned, the at-times-terrifying-but-always-amusing art of Robert Crumb with the similarly dark-comedic styling of Kafka himself. (Kafka is said to have been inclined to laugh when reading his own work)

This is the only book of this introductory series I've read so far, but I would take this as an indication of a set of worthwhile books.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Rasband VINE VOICE on June 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
Mairowitz writes a lucid intorduction to the work of the great writer but the real treasure here is the copious artwork by R. Crumb. It's almost like he was born to illustrate Kafka. This is a fully satisfying three-dimensional consideration of the author, his times, and his postumous fame. *Not* just a comic book. Highly recommended, and not just for Kafka or Crumb fans, but anyone who loves writing and comedy.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James Paris on April 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
As I read through this delightful summary of Franz Kafka's life and work, I was struck by the fact that both the Czech writer and the cartoonist R. Crumb have the same anguished yearning for determined young women. Curiously, these all have the strong legs, broad beams, and statuesque torsos of Crumb's fantasy women from Zap Comix to today. Perhaps, Crumb and Kafka have more in common than meets the eye.
They are all there: Gregor Samsa's sister, the luscious Milena Jesenska, the Advocate's "nurse" Leni, Olga and Frieda from THE CASTLE, and the ravishing Dora Diamant. These women are all more durable than both Kafka and Crumb, who are wispy and likely to blow away in the next puff of wind. (I recommend that you see the excellent film documentary of the cartoonist's life, called, appropriately, CRUMB.)
When one concentrates on the women in Kafka's life and work, the result is curiously enlightening. "None of his female characters seems to have her own existence," writes David Zane Mairowitz, "but is spawned in his imagination in order to distract 'K' or 'Joseph K,' to tempt and ensnare him. Kafka's sexual terror is put to the test time after time, yet these same women provide something more.... The outcome of these relationships is rarely 'intimate' (Leni being an exception) and has more to do with power than personal feelings. Kafka's talent would mostly SUGGEST erotic encounter, rather than indulging his characters in that act which he found 'repellent and perfectly useless.'"
Perhaps Mairowitz and Crumb do not provide a measured and scholarly study of the writer, but within a mere 175 pages they have done more to rekindle my interest in Kafka than anything else I have ever read about him. This book is a perfect gem and a work of art in its own right.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bryan E. Leed on March 26, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
INTRODUCING KAFKA is a great way to enjoy R. Crumb artwork without feeling slimed by his unfortunate obsessions with perversity, and you will learn a lot about the life of the very famous author named Kafka, too.

Most of the pages have more space given to the artwork than the body text, drawn in the typical R. Crumb style, cute with edgy content.

Overall, after reading this book, I realized that I no longer am interested in the type of work done by Kafka, which is story writing that is VERY depressive and dreary, though imaginative.

I used to be a much more involved reader of R. Crumb, but I have since lost interest in his pornography overloads, so this INTRODUCING KAFKA book is a nice little souvenir of R. Crumb that I can safely keep in the house, without fear of upsetting anybody if they should ever find it.

There is very mild "adult" content in R. Crumb's artwork, especially mild compared to R. Crumb's independent, anything goes, usual work.

This book is a perfect fit for a biography of oddball author Kafka, presented and illustrated with R. Crumb work, doing a rare, non-offense project, for most mainstream readers' sensibilities.
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