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       The Castle: A New Translation Based on the Restored Text, p.1
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The Castle: A New Translation Based on the Restored Text

  A page from Kafka’s manuscript of The Castle.

  Copyright © 1998 by Schocken Books Inc.

  Preface copyright © 1998 by Mark Harman

  All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Schocken Books Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Distributed by Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

  Originally published in Germany as Das Schloss by Kurt Wolff Verlag, Munich, 1926, and by Schocken Verlag, Berlin, 1935. Copyright © 1926 by Kurt Wolff Verlag, copyright renewed 1954 by Schocken Books Inc. This critical edition was originally published in Germany by S. Fischer Verlag GmbH, Frankfurt am Main, in 1982, and subsequently revised in 1990. Copyright © 1982 by Schocken Books Inc. Afterword to the German critical edition copyright © 1990 by S. Fischer Verlag GmbH, Frankfurt am Main. This translation was originally published in hardcover by Schocken books Inc., New York, in 1998.

  Schocken and colophon are trademarks of Schocken Books Inc.

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Kafka, Franz, 1883–1924.

  [Das Schloss. English]

  The castle / Franz Kafka; a new translation, based on the restored text; translated and with a preface by Mark Harman.

  p. cm.

  eISBN: 978-0-307-82948-1

  I. Harman, Mark. II. Title.

  PT2621.A26S33 1998

  833’.912—dc21 97-18117

  Random House Web Address:




  Title Page


  Publisher’s Note

  Translator’s Preface

  I. Arrival

  II. Barnabas

  III. Frieda

  IV. First Conversation with the Landlady

  V. At the Chairman’s

  VI. Second Conversation with the Landlady

  VII. The Teacher

  VIII. Waiting for Klamm

  IX. The Struggle Against the Interrogation

  X. On the Street

  XI. In the Schoolhouse

  XII. The Assistants

  XIII. Hans

  XIV. Frieda’s Reproach

  XV. At Amalia’s


  XVII. Amalia’s Secret

  XVIII. Amalia’s Punishment

  XIX. Petitioning

  XX. Olga’s Plans







  Afterword to the German Critical Edition, by Malcolm Pasley

  The Life of Franz Kafka



  “Dearest Max, my last request: Everything I leave behind me … in the way of diaries, manuscripts, letters (my own and others’), sketches, and so on, [is] to be burned unread.… Yours, Franz Kafka”

  These famous words written to Kafka’s friend Max Brod have puzzled Kafka’s readers ever since they appeared in the postscript to the first edition of The Trial, published in 1925, a year after Kafka’s death. We will never know if Kafka really meant for Brod to do what he asked; Brod believed that it was Kafka’s high artistic standards and merciless self-criticism that lay behind the request, but he also believed that Kafka had deliberately asked the one person he knew would not honor his wishes (because Brod had explicitly told him so). We do know, however, that Brod disregarded his friend’s request and devoted great energy to making sure that all of Kafka’s works—his three unfinished novels, his unpublished stories, diaries, and letters—would appear in print. Brod explained his reasoning thus:

  My decision [rests] simply and solely on the fact that Kafka’s unpublished work contains the most wonderful treasures, and, measured against his own work, the best things he has written. In all honesty I must confess that this one fact of the literary and ethical value of what I am publishing would have been enough to make me decide to do so, definitely, finally, and irresistibly, even if I had had no single objection to raise against the validity of Kafka’s last wishes. (From the Postscript to the first edition of The Trial)

  I would like to acknowledge the scholarly assistance given by Professor Mark Anderson and Dr. Anthony David Skinner in the preparation of this note.

  In 1925, Max Brod convinced the small avant-garde Berlin publisher Verlag Die Schmiede to publish The Trial, which Brod prepared for publication from Kafka’s unfinished manuscript. Next he persuaded the Munich publisher Kurt Wolff to publish his edited manuscript of The Castle, also left unfinished by Kafka, in 1926, and in 1927 to bring out Kafka’s first novel, which Kafka had meant to entitle Der Verschollene (The Man Who Disappeared), but which Brod named Amerika. Wolff later noted that very few of the 1,500 copies of The Castle he printed were sold. The first English translation of The Castle, by Edwin and Willa Muir, was published in Britain in 1930 by Seeker & Warburg and in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf. Though recognized by a small circle as an important book, it did not sell well.

  Undeterred, Max Brod enlisted the support of Martin Buber, Hermann Hesse, Heinrich Mann, Thomas Mann, and Franz Werfel for a public statement urging the publication of Kafka’s collected works as “a spiritual act of unusual dimensions, especially now, during times of chaos.” Since Kafka’s previous publishers had closed during Germany’s economic depression, he appealed to Gustav Kiepenheuer to undertake the project. Kiepenheuer agreed, but on condition that the first volume be financially successful. But the Nazi rise to power in 1933 forced Kiepenheuer to abandon his plans. Between 1933 and 1938 German Jews were barred from teaching or studying in “German” schools, from publishing or being published in “German” newspapers or publishing houses, or from speaking and performing in front of “German” audiences. Publishers that had been owned or managed by Jews, such as S. Fischer Verlag, were quickly “Aryanized” and ceased to publish books by Jews. Kafka’s works were not well enough known to be banned by the government or burned by nationalist students, but they were “Jewish” enough to be off limits to “Aryan” publishers.

  When the Nazis introduced their racial laws they exempted Schocken Verlag, a Jewish publisher, from the ban against publishing Jewish authors on condition that its books would be sold only to Jews. Founded in 1931 by the department store magnate Salman Schocken, this small publishing company had already published the works of Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig as well as those of the Hebrew writer S. Y. Agnon as part of its owner’s interest in fostering a secular Jewish literary culture.

  Max Brod offered Schocken the world publishing rights to all of Kafka’s works. This offer was initially rejected by Lambert Schneider, Schocken Verlag’s editor in chief, who regarded Kafka’s work as outside his mandate to publish books that could reacquaint German Jewry with its distinguished heritage. He also doubted its public appeal. His employer also had his doubts about the marketability of six volumes of Kafka’s novels, stories, diaries, and letters, although he recognized their universal literary quality as well as their potential to undermine the official campaign to denigrate German Jewish culture. But he was urged by one of his editors, Moritz Spitzer, to see in Kafka a quintessentially “Jewish” voice that could give meaning to the new reality that had befallen German Jewry and would demonstrate the central role of Jews in German culture. Accordingly, Before the Law, an anthology drawn from Kafka’s diaries and short stories, appeared in 1934 in Schocken Verlag’s Bücherei series, a collection of books aimed to appeal to a popular audience, and was followed a year later
the year of the infamous Nuremburg Laws—by Kafka’s three novels. The Schocken editions were the first to give Kafka widespread distribution in Germany. Martin Buber, in a letter to Brod, praised these volumes as “a great possession” that could “show how one can live marginally with complete integrity and without loss of background.” (From The Letters of Martin Buber [New York: Schocken Books, 1991], p. 431)

  Inevitably, many of the books Schocken sold ended up in non-Jewish hands, giving German readers—at home and in exile—their only access to one of the century’s greatest writers. Klaus Mann wrote in the exile journal Sammlung that “the collected works of Kafka, offered by the Schocken Verlag in Berlin, are the noblest and most significant publications that have come out of Germany.” Praising Kafka’s books as “the epoch’s purest and most singular works of literature,” he noted with astonishment that “this spiritual event has occurred within a splendid isolation, in a ghetto far from the German cultural ministry.” Soon after this article appeared, the Nazi government put Kafka’s novels on its blacklist of “harmful and undesirable writings.” Schocken moved his production to Prague, where he published Kafka’s diaries and letters. Interestingly, despite the ban on the novels, he was able to continue printing and distributing his earlier volume of Kafka’s short stories in Germany itself until the government closed down Schocken Verlag in 1939. The German occupation of Prague that same year put an end to Schocken’s operations in Europe.

  In 1939, he re-established Schocken Books in Palestine, where he had lived intermittently since 1934, and editions of Kafka’s works in the renewed Hebrew language were among its first publications. In 1940, he moved to New York, where five years later he opened Schocken Books with Hannah Arendt and Nahum Glatzer as his chief editors. While continuing to publish Kafka in German, Schocken reissued the existing Muir translations of the novels in 1946 and commissioned translations of the letters and diaries in the 1950s, thus placing Kafka again at the center of his publishing program. Despite a dissenting opinion from Edmund Wilson in The New Yorker (where he nonetheless compared Kafka to Nikolai Gogol and Edgar Allan Poe), a postwar Kafka craze began in the United States; translations of all of Kafka’s works began to appear in many other languages; and in 1951 the German Jewish publisher S. Fischer of Frankfurt (also in exile during the Nazi period) obtained the rights to publish Kafka in Germany. As Hannah Arendt wrote to Salman Schocken, Kafka had come to share Marx’s fate: “Though during his lifetime he could not make a decent living, he will now keep generations of intellectuals both gainfully employed and well-fed.” (Letter, August 9, 1946, Schocken Books Archive, New York)

  Along with the growing international recognition of Franz Kafka as one of the great writers of our century, scholars began to raise doubts about the editorial decisions made by Max Brod. The notebooks in which Kafka had written The Castle, for instance, contained large crossed-out sections with the last part in a fragmentary state, forcing Brod to make editorial decisions. Intent on securing an audience for his friend, Brod sought to improve the readability of the unfinished novel by normalizing spelling, introducing standard High German punctuation, changing the way Kafka’s chapters were broken, and deleting the final chapters (although by 1951 this material had been reinserted into the German edition, and in 1954 was translated by Eithne Wilkins and Ernst Kaiser and placed in the English edition with the final paragraphs in an appendix). Brod’s main concern was to make the novel appear as a unified whole, although Kafka had not supplied an ending; indeed, he appears to have broken off the novel in mid-sentence.

  Salman Schocken was among the most eager for new, critical editions of Kafka’s works. “The Schocken editions are bad,” he wrote in an internal memo. “Without any question, new editions that include the incomplete novels would require a completely different approach.” (September 29, 1940, Schocken Archives, Jerusalem) However, Max Brod’s refusal to give up the Kafka archive in his Tel Aviv apartment or to allow scholars access to it made such new editions impossible until 1956, when the threat of war in the Middle East prompted him to deposit the bulk of the archives, including the manuscript of The Castle, in a Swiss vault. When the young Oxford Germanist Malcolm Pasley learned of the archives’ whereabouts, he received permission from Kafka’s heirs in 1961 to deposit them in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, where they were subsequently made available for scholarly inspection.

  Since the 1970s an international team of Kafka experts has been working on German critical editions of all of Kafka’s writings, which are being published by S. Fischer Verlag with financial support from the German government. The first of these editions, The Castle, appeared in 1982, edited by Malcolm Pasley in two volumes, one for the restored text of the novel drawn from Kafka’s handwritten manuscript, the second for textual variants and editorial notes. (See the afterword to the German critical edition in the appendix to this volume for Pasley’s discussion of his work.)

  Our new English translation of The Castle, by Mark Harman, is based on the restored text in the first volume of the Pasley German critical edition, which corrected numerous transcription errors in the earlier editions and removed all of Brod’s editorial and stylistic interventions. Although many of the novelties of the German critical text (such as Kafka’s unorthodox spelling and his use of an Austrian German or Prague German vocabulary) cannot be conveyed in translation, the fluidity and breathlessness of the sparsely punctuated original manuscript have been retained, as Mark Harman explains in his preface. We decided to omit the variants and passages deleted by Kafka that are included in Pasley’s second volume, even though variants can indeed shed light on the genesis of literary texts. The chief objective of this new edition, which is intended for the general public, is to present the text in a form that is as close as possible to the state in which the author left the manuscript.


  Editorial Director,

  Schocken Books, New York


  W. H. Auden once said that anybody who presents a new translation of a literary classic ought to justify the endeavor—a task, he adds, “which can only be congenial to the malicious.”1 I have no desire to malign the translations of the Muirs, a gifted Scottish couple who were in Prague learning Czech while Kafka was in Silesia writing Das Schloβ. Their elegant translations, beginning with The Castle (1930), quickly established Kafka’s reputation in the English-speaking world.

  Yet translations eventually do show their age and the Muirs’ Kafka is no exception. The literary sensibility of Edwin Muir, the primary stylist, was molded by nineteenth-century figures such as Thackeray and Dickens, and he had little sympathy with contemporary writers such as Virginia Woolf and James Joyce. He had this to say about Ulysses: “its design is arbitrary, its development feeble, its unity questionable.”2 Small wonder, then, that he and Willa Muir should have toned down the modernity of The Castle.

  The datedness of the Muirs’ translations has not gone unnoticed. In 1983, the centenary of Kafka’s birth, the critic Siegbert Prawer summarized the case in favor of new translations: “Scholar after scholar has told us of the Muirs’ tendency to tone down Kafka’s ominousness and make his central figures more kindly than they are in the original.… They misunderstood some of Kafka’s phrases and sentences … [and] tended to obscure Kafka’s cross-references by elegant variation.… At other times, the Muirs import connections where there are none in the original.…”3

  Moreover, the Muirs’ translation furthers the rather simplistic theological interpretation proposed by Brod, who saw the Castle as the seat of divine grace. Edwin Muir even outdid Brod by stating bluntly that “the theme of the novel is salvation”; he also suggested that it was a kind of updated version of Bunyan’s seventeenth-century prose allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress. That allegorical reading, which dominated the critical debate about the novel for several decades, is now widely discredited. Muir himself was firmly convinced that literature could not survive the demise of religious belief:
“If … that belief were to fail completely and for good, there would be no imaginative art with a significance beyond its own time. But it is inconceivable that it should fail, for it is native to man.” Those strong convictions leave their mark on the Muirs’ translation, which fits a religious mold more neatly than does the original.

  Literary translators must forge a prose style that mimicks the original. How best to describe Kafka’s style in The Castle? Thomas Mann speaks of its “precise, almost official conservatism.” Yet that is only part of the story. The writers in Kafka’s eclectic pantheon mirror his oscillation between conservative-classical and modern styles. Among his favorites were Goethe, Kleist, the nineteenth-century Austrian novelist Adalbert Stifter, the rustic Alemannic moralist Johann Peter Hebel, Dickens (though Kafka disliked his verbosity), Flaubert, Dostoevsky, and the quirky Swiss modernist Robert Walser.4

  The prose style of The Castle reflects its origins as a first-person novel. Kafka changed his mind while working on the third chapter and went back, crossing out each “I” and replacing it with “K.” Nevertheless, that original conception left an imprint on his style. As in much first-person fiction, the tempo of the prose charts the state of the central character. When K. is agitated, it is choppy. When K. loses himself in the labyrinth of his paranoid logic, it is tortuous and wordy. When the emphasis is on K.’s actions rather than on his thoughts, the prose becomes terse. At such moments—chapters 2 and 3 are striking instances—the stark prose becomes a miracle of precision. Kafka can be both taut and fluid. His prose seems meticulously chiseled, but he did not labor over it. The flowing handwriting in the manuscripts with relatively few corrections suggests the intuitive certainty of a somnambulist. Perhaps that is why there is so much life in his extraordinarily compact sentences.

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