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August 7, 2019 1:06 pm

Large Batch of Franz Kafka’s Papers Unveiled in Israel After 12-Year Legal Struggle

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Franz Kafka in 1923. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A massive collection of writings by legendary Jewish author Franz Kafka has been brought to Israel after 12 years of legal wrangling.

According to Israeli news outlet Kan, the collection — unveiled by Israel’s National Library on Wednesday — includes hundreds of items handwritten by Kafka, such as essays, notes for his fictional works, letters and drawings.

Also included are texts written in Hebrew.

Franz Kafka was born in Prague in 1883. Though he wrote in German, he had a strong if conflicted Jewish identity and is now seen as one of the greatest Jewish writers of the 20th century. Among his most admired works are The Metamorphosis and The Trial.

Before he died young in 1924, Kafka asked his friend, Max Brod, to burn his unpublished works. Brod ignored Kafka’s request and brought the material to then-British Mandate Palestine, where they were edited and published.

The new batch was acquired following a long legal struggle over ownership of the papers. They were originally left by Brod to his secretary, and the National Library has been involved in a protracted fight with her family to obtain them. The case worked its way through the legal system over the course of 12 years before a Tel Aviv court ruled in favor of the National Library.

The materials come from various sources, including collections in Tel Aviv and Switzerland, as well as the Berlin police, who handed over six crates of material that had been stolen.

The materials were also hugely expensive, with the cost of the legal struggle reportedly amounting to millions of shekels.

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