Arnon Grunberg

The eleventh


John Banville in NYRB on Kafka and two of his biographers:

"Of course, Kafka is not the first writer, nor will he be the last, to figure himself as a martyr to his art—think of Flaubert, think of Joyce—but he is remarkable for the single-mindedness with which he conceived of his role."

Probably Kundera would disagree with this statement. (See Kundera’s collection of essays "Testaments Betrayed”.)

But here is some consolation to authors with moderate sales: ‘“The notion that he was not concerned about public resonance,” Stach writes, “that he was immune to both praise and criticism, is false.” Indeed, it seems that during World War I he engaged a clippings agency so that he would not miss even the most fleeting public reference to his work. All the same, he had no illusions about the possibility of worldly success and fame. He remarked with melancholy humor of his first book, a slim volume entitled Meditation, “Eleven books were sold at André’s store. I bought ten of them myself. I would love to know who has the eleventh.”’

Banville’s thoughtful article convinces us that we should buy Stach’s and Friedländer's books; if we have money left we can also buy our own books.

(Read the complete article here.)

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