View Full Version : Finally ....a definitive English translation of Franz Kafka

09-27-2010, 07:08 PM
When I saw that my library had a new translation of Kafka's 'The Trial' on cd, I checked it out. I love to listen to classics and others on cd, but 'The Trial' is not one to start with. However, I've read Kafka's novel twice before. So I started listening. The Introduction is given by the translater, Breon Mitchell. He explains that Kafka's friend, Max Brod, was left the task of destroying all Kafka's notes and unfinished novels, mainly 'Amerika', 'The Castle', and 'The Trial', at Kafka's death bed behest. But Max didn't do this. Instead he completed the novels and at the same time edited the finished chapters. From 1930, the translations of the Muirs were considered by most to be the definitive text for English readers. And, of course, their translations were developed from Brod's work. So, as Mitchell explains, if Brod's work is inaccuarate, any translation taken from it would be inaccurate; that is, the translation could not express Kafka's original thoughts. Then in the late 80s, Kafka's original manuscripts and notes were sold at auction. This marked the first time an accurate translation could be accomplished using the material Brod worked with. What a convoluted mess!

What are the thoughts of you other readers of Kafka? Is there any other translators who have worked with Kafka's original manuscript and notes? Then there is the Orson Welles movie of 'The Trial' made in the early 60s with Anthony Perkins. I think Welles played the bed-ridden lawyer. In any event, Welles was quoted as saying this was his best film, better than Citizen Kane. For some reason no one copyrighted Welles' film, so copies are few and far between unless some entrepreneur can step in and make a viewable copy. I would be interested in reading what other Kafka lovers think about all the above. By the way, the new Mitchell translation is available on Blackstone Audio.

09-29-2010, 11:30 AM
Michael Hofmann's Penguin translations use the original manuscripts. I very much liked his version of "Metamorphosis..."