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Blue Octavo Notebooks Paperback – January 2, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Franz Kafka was born to Jewish parents in Bohemia in 1883. Kafka s father was a luxury goods retailer who worked long hours and as a result never became close with his son. Kafka s relationship with his father greatly influenced his later writing and directly informed his Brief an den Vater (Letter to His Father). Kafka had a thorough education and was fluent in both German and Czech. As a young man, he was hired to work at an insurance company where he was quickly promoted despite his desire to devote his time to writing rather than insurance. Over the course of his life, Kafka wrote a great number of stories, letters, and essays, but burned the majority of his work before his death and requested that his friend Max Brod burn the rest. Brod, however, did not fulfill this request and published many of the works in the years following Kafka s death of tuberculosis in 1924. Thus, most of Kafka s works were published posthumously, and he did not live to see them recognized as some of the most important examples of literature of the twentieth century. Kafka s works are considered among the most significant pieces of existentialist writing, and he is remembered for his poignant depictions of internal conflicts with alienation and oppression. Some of Kafka s most famous works include The Metamorphosis, The Trial and The Castle.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Exact Change (January 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781878972040
  • ISBN-13: 978-1878972040
  • ASIN: 1878972049
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #385,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First off, to the reviewer here from Ontario: I laughed until I started to hiccup while reading your review, and since I'm a substitute librarian, well...you can imagine. You've caught his tone exactly.

Now, the Octavos. If you're a Kafka obsessive, they're required reading---first, to tease out his private code (the aphorisms). Secondly, one finds many of the shorter pieces Brod lifted for other releases, and what Brod chose---and what he left---says a lot about how his friend interpreted this author, and how FK would be misinterpreted for the next fifty years.

Another reason to read Octavos is this: at least two of the shorter pieces here are so funny you'll want to collar friends and force them to listen. "I am a clerk at the town hall!" boasts one of his personae repeatedly...before collapsing into snarls about dignity and the office cat. Another is a wry send-up on the self-important manifestos floating around Europe at the time: Kafka's version is released anonymously to an indifferent apartment population, and proposes an absurdist Social-Contract arrangement between the manifesto writer, the thronging public, and five broken toy rifles--all sonorously written in starving-revolutionary comeradese. Of course, to the manifesto writer's chagrin, no one shows up.

The Octavo Notebooks are where Kafka recorded a few of his most delicate, poetic and aching shorter pieces. They're also where he goofed up, wrote himself into a corner, admonished himself, lied to himself. In short, they're a small window into this complicated writer's heart. Nothing here is so essential that you can't enjoy Kafka's more formal work without them, but if you're a fan, they humanize the man immeasurably.
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Format: Paperback
In the last year I have fallen in love with Franz Kafka's writings, starting with "The Trial." His works are the most truthful, soul-searching, endless, funny, and haunting tales ever written. I bought "The Blue Octavo Notebooks" not knowing what to expect. Were these to be second-rate scribblings published only to profit off Kafka's name? Not at all. These journals are as brilliant, if not better, than Kafka's stories. They reveal a complex man who was constantly challenging himself, trying to find the meaning of art, goodness, evil, truth, human nature, the eternal, and life. The entries, many of them only one or two lines, are deep meditations that allow the reader to probe into Kafka's, and the reader's, mind. Even the unfinished story fragments are nuggets of pure genius. The notebooks are intensely mystical, but frighteningly real -- like everything else in the world of Kafka's literature.
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By A Customer on July 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Definitely not the first Kafka text one should select--but arguably the second or third (behind The Stories and The Trial.) This collection represents the closest Kafka came to helping the reader unlock the impossibilities of interpretation in his fiction. For this reason alone it's worth a look, though there are many wonderful and hilarious moments that rank with the best of K's work.
And to the gentleman from Ontario (review, Oct. 18/99) who fretted over the color of the volume in question (and the publisher's good faith): you haven't been reading your Kafka. On page 35 you'll find the following: "There are only two things. Truth and lies. Truth is indivisible, hence it cannot recognize itself; anyone who wants to recognize it has to be a lie." This volume's (non) color is Kafkaesque in the best sense of the term. EXACT CHANGE should be congratulated on their superior understanding of a masterful writer!
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Format: Paperback
Like the notebooks of Nietzsche, Camus, Andre Gide, and Wittgenstein...

this book of discovered notebooks is a sharp and wonderfully illuminating glimpse into the deep-thinking mind of a master of his literary craft. A Great Read!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Exquisite reading for any true Kafka fan. When Kafka's literary executor Max Brod published Kafka's diaries in 1948 he decided to omit the octavo notebooks. He personally considered their contents to be much more more literary and philosophical than the regular diaries Kafka kept so he made this decision. Later in 1953, the Octavo notebooks were included in a volume of uncollected writings which included fragments and numbered extracts. In 1954, they appeared in English for the first time in Dearest Father. Stories and Other Writings (Schocken Books). Finally in 1991,
The Blue Octavo Notebooks were published in a single volume via Exact Change (1991, ISBN 1-878972-04-9). This edition FINALLY includes the COMPLETE NOTEBOOKS IN THEIR ENTIRETY along with Max Brod's notes and the numbered extracts. Bravo!!!!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I first bought this book, it wasn't blue either. But when I brought it home and put it on my shelf, things changed irrevocably. Now when I am sitting and writing late in the evening, out of the corner of my eye I can see the book, sitting amongst its faithless companions, gleaming blue like a blue lamp from a lighthouse, shining out from its shelf. While all around the rustling of the mice. But then, when I turn and look straight at her, she isn't blue anymore.

I find the thought almost unbearable.
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