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The value of Kafka's newly discovered works
Unseen Kafka documents surface in Israel—but they might be covered in cat pee.
 

What happened
Previously unseen documents belonging to writer Franz Kafka are now available to literary scholars due to the death of Esther Hoffe, who kept them private in her Tel Aviv apartment for 40 years. Hoffe is the former secretary and love of Max Brod, Kafka's literary executor responsible for the posthumous publishing of Kafka's largely unfinished works.

What the commentators said
Kafka left so much incomplete material for Brod, said Paul Wood on BBC News, and "that is why the unseen notes and documents might be so valuable." The Castle, for example, "actually stopped mid-sentence," so the new documents might hold missing material—or even contain completely new works previously unknown.

Unfortunately, Hoffe's flat was an archivist's nightmare, said Kate Conolly in The Guardian. Tel Aviv authorities say the papers have a high sulphuric acid content; the apartment was damp; and Hoffe kept "hordes of cats and dogs" that created quite a "stench."

Whether or not they're covered in cat pee, said Ofer Aderet in Haaretz, the literary world wants to see them. But the Israeli government will get the first look. The Archives Law "stipulates that no material of importance is to be taken outside state borders without first allowing for it to be inspected and photocopied."

It's doubtful that Hoffe withheld anything that was valuable, said Alastair Macdonald on the Luciole Press Blog, but even "documents left by Brod, himself a noted figure in the German literary world, would also be extremely interesting." It's all such a "Kafka-esque" mystery!

 

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