Kafka: Bibliography of Secondary Literature

In the summer of 2011 I asked for some help in compiling a bibliography of secondary Kafka literature that is worth reading. There is no shortage of academic monographs, essay collections and handbooks offering theories on Kafka’s small oeuvre.

It should go without saying that the first stop on the Kafka journey must be the short stories and the three incomplete novels. Moving on to the letters and diaries you quickly reach the end of Kafka material available. The list below is carefully chosen and offers up the most enlightening secondary works:

  1. Kafka: The Decisive Years – Reiner Stach
  2. Kafka: The Years of Insight – Reiner Stach
  3. The I Without a Self (The Dyer’s Hand) – W. H. Auden
  4. Lambent Traces: Kafka – Stanley Corngold
  5. A Bird Was In The Room (Writing and the Body) – Gabriel Josipovici
  6. Kafka’s Children (Singer on the Shore) – Gabriel Josipovici
  7. Kafka’s Other Trial: The Letters to Felice – Elias Canetti
  8. The Castrating Shadow of Saint Garta (Testaments Betrayed) – Milan Kundera
  9. Reading Kafka and Kafka & Literature (The Work of Fire) – Maurice Blanchot
  10. Franz Kafka: The Necessity of Form – Stanley Corngold
  11. Kafka: An Art for the Wilderness (The Lessons of Modernism) – Gabriel Josipovici
  12. Notes on Kafka (Prisms) – Adorno
  13. K. – Roberto Calasso
  14. Agamben’s Joyful Kafka: Finding Freedom Beyond Subordination – Anke Snoek
  15. Kafka: A Collection of Critical Essays – Ronald Gray, ed.
  16. The Metamorphosis (Lectures on Literature) – Vladimir Nabokov
  17. Kafka, Rilke and Rumpelstiltskin (Speak, Silence) – Idris Parry
  18. Kafka and the Work’s Demand (The Space of Literature) – Maurice Blanchot
  19. Franz Kafka and Some Reflections on Kafka (Illuminations) -Walter Benjamin
Excluded from this list because I consider them inferior are Brod’s biography (interesting but unreliable), Gustav Janouch’s unreliable, self-inflating memoirs, Pietro Citati’s hagiography and Deleuze and Guattari’s showiness.
I will update this list if I come across worthy new additions of if you let me know of anything I have missed.
[21 Aug: Added a second Blanchot, Gray, Parry and Nabokov; deleted Pawel’s biography due to speculation and inaccuracies.]
[20 July 2013: Added latest Stach edition, Snoek; removed Janouch]

2 thoughts on “Kafka: Bibliography of Secondary Literature

    • Thanks for the suggestion. I’ve read that one. I was surprised to find guides in Prague running so-called Kafka tours perpetuating some of these myths.

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