Checking Out Kafka’s Bookshelves

These bookshelves are metaphorical as Kafka lived a Spartan existence. Somehow I don’t picture a book-lined study, more a monastic cell, but Kafka’s library card was in heavy use.

A secondary pleasure of reading Franz Kafka: A Biography is that tMax Brod records the authors and, in some cases, particular books that Kafka enjoyed. Kafka read widely, citing influences from Dickens to Mann; his love of Goethe and Flaubert was unwavering during the twenty-odd years that Brod was a close friend.

This list comprises those writers that Brod mentions Kafka reading deeply at different periods of his life. Several of Kafka’s favourite writers are unfortunately not commonly available in English translation: Rudolf Kassner, Emil Strauss, Wilhelm Schäfer, Hans Carossa, Franz Seraphicus Grillparzer, Stefan Anton George.

  1. Heinrich von Kleist – Selected Prose and An Abyss Deep Enough: Letters of Heinrich von Kleist (out of print but sometimes available)
  2. Hugo von Hofmannsthal – The Whole Difference: Selected Writings of Hugo von Hofmannsthal
  3. Thomas Mann – Tonio Kröger (available in an Everyman Death in Venice and Other Stories)
  4. Hamsun
  5. Hesse
  6. Flaubert
  7. Johann Peter Hebel – Little Treasury and Diaries
  8. Theodor Fontane – Letters
  9. Gogol
  10. Adalbert Stifter – Indian Summer
  11. Goethe
  12. Robert Walser
  13. Kierkegaard
  14. Ernst Weiss
  15. Johan August Strindberg
  16. Dostoyevsky
  17. Blaise Pascal
  18. Aleksandr Ivanovich HerzenLondon Fog
  19. Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin
  20. Božena Němcová – The Grandmother

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