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The Complete Stories by Franz Kafka

The Complete Stories (1971)

by Franz Kafka

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,657261,460 (4.31)38
  1. 00
    Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (leigonj)
    leigonj: Kafka had Swift's book in his library and there are definite commonalities between their two writings; I'd be surprised if one had not influenced the other. (Also The Trial).

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» See also 38 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Half of these stories are brilliant, and deserve 5/5 stars. However, the other half I found to be wanting and excruciatingly boring. ( )
  weberam2 | Nov 24, 2017 |
I was very excited to read this collection because I loved The Trial when I read it. Unfortunately, I found the quality of writing in this collection to be very inconsistent. Kafka did not want most of these published, and it is clear why. Some of the stories are overly discursive and painful to read. Others are so short and to the point that the point became banal. Yet, I cannot exactly say that I didn't enjoy the collection, either.

Despite being included with some less enjoyable works, many of the stories in this collection are brilliant. They place the reader in a world where life is absurd and we are all subject to happenstance. They are at times terrifying and always thought provoking. These stories are Kafka at his best. For those who pick up this book, reading the whole thing is certainly worthwhile, I would suggest reading the following if you do not have time to read the whole thing.

"Before the Law"
"The Imperial Message"
"The Metamorphosis"
"The Penal Colony"
"A Country Doctor"
"A Hunger Artist"
"Jackals and Arabs"
"A Little Fable" ( )
  fuzzy_patters | Apr 15, 2017 |
In the worlds that Kafka creates, cause and effect tend to have been tossed out the window. Actions and reactions don’t link together as neatly as we think they should, and when a connection does become apparent it’s often only in retrospect. In many of Kafka’s works the rules aren’t clear, and often are made even more opaque by the end of the story. By furthermore keeping references to the real world to a minimum in his work, Kafka severs our tether to reality and sets us adrift in what is sometimes a dreamlike, sometimes a nightmarish reality that nevertheless casts a dark reflection of our modern world. It’s little wonder that Kafka was so influential to the authors that followed him, and that he continues to be heavily influential today: as the world gets more complex, the bureaucracies of life become more ubiquitous, and outsider status remains just as prevalent as ever, Kafka’s stories resonate all the more.

So bottom line, Kafka is worth reading, but stepping away from that broad overview of his work and influence and looking at his specific works, the question of “what Kafka should I read” is a harder one. There’s nary a story he wrote that doesn’t evoke his signature feeling of disorientation, but that’s not to say that all of them are very good. After having read his complete collected stories, I’ve concluded that much of what Kafka wrote that was unpublished during his lifetime went unpublished for good reason, as some of it is quite bad. Description of a Struggle is nearly incomprehensible, Wedding Preparations in the Country is so fragmented that it’s rendered meaningless, The Burrow just keeps going and going long after you’ve gotten the point. There are some gems in there- I quite enjoyed Poseidon- but in general Kafka’s unpublished works are a big step down from what he published. In terms of what he had published, much of what Kafka wrote is so short that it lacks the impact found in his longer works. You’re following Kafka down the rabbit hole, after all, and if the journey stops after it’s barely begun it undercuts the point. Again, some of his shorter works are excellent (Before the Law and An Imperial Message come to mind, the latter clearly showing how much Kafka influenced Borges), and even the ones that aren’t excellent are often interesting (such as Eleven Sons, where Kafka establishes a cast sans a story), but they aren’t his best works.

Instead, Kafka’s best are his longer short stories and novellas, which are lengthy enough for you to be completely submerged in the atmosphere of Kafka’s world, but not long enough that the effect of the constant disorientation dulls (a problem I think The Castle suffers from). The Metamorphosis is the ultimate story of alienation and “otherness,” regardless of what exactly that consists of. The Trial is a brilliant story of society and institutions functioning outside of our comprehension, let alone our control, but still inexorably having a major impact on our lives. In The Penal Colony, my favorite of Kafka’s works, is about how people can buy into the mission of bureaucracies, even when those bureaucracies are doing horrible things, and can come to champion the mission and action of those bureaucracies even when they should long ago have ceased. A Hunger Artist presents the artistic drive to create as, not something to praise, but a necessary part of an artist- they must create, they could never do anything else. These are all the briefest of descriptions, as you could analyze any of these stories forever and a day, but the takeaway is that they are all different and all excellent. Together these works are essential reading for understanding how literature developed after Kafka, and more importantly they are excellent in their own right. You should read these. If you liked them, you should read the rest of Kafka’s published works. If you finish those and are still hungering for more, then you should move on to his unpublished material.

This leaves the question of how to grade a collection like this, that contains many of Kafka’s best works (though sadly not The Trial), but also contains his worst. If I were to grade every story contained in this collection the average would probably be a 3/5, but this collection gets a 4/5 because with Kafka, his best sticks with you, and his worst are just troubled dreams you forget upon waking from them. ( )
  BayardUS | Jan 10, 2016 |
My favorites are "Metamorphosis", "The Penal Colony", and "The Hunger Artist." ( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 10, 2015 |
This is a nice collection to own, as it gathers all of Kafka's narrative fiction except for his three novels in one book, which is important since when Kafka was rediscovered in the sixties, these tended to be reissued in a haphazard manner with a great deal of duplication between volumes. The book is arranged with longer stories (several of which I would term novellas) first and short shorts at the end. A few of the stories read like fragments and some of the longer ones do go on a bit with very little payoff in terms of insight into the human condition, let alone traditional metrics such as plot and characterization, but the many classic favorites make this a relatively enjoyable investment of time. The physical quality of the paperback could be better; mine is falling apart. ( )
  Big_Bang_Gorilla | Jun 19, 2014 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Franz Kafkaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Borges, Jorge LuisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coppé, LuigiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Glatzer, Nahum N.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hernández Arias, José RafaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Josipovici, GabrielTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaiser, ErnstTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kern, GaryNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kivivuori, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laies, ChristophCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manner, Eeva-LiisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mannila, MarkkuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mendilaharzu de Machain, NélidaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muir, EdwinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muir, WillaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oates, Joyce CarolForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peromies, AarnoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pocar, ErvinoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raabe, PaulEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raio, Giuliosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stern, JamesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stern, TaniaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waugh, EvelynForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilkins, EithneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zanutigh Núñez, FranciscoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805210555, Paperback)

How many writers get their own adjective? The work of this terminally alienated master narrator of the subconscious demanded a new descriptor; I guess they gave up and just settled on "Kafkaesque." But if you ever wonder what the original Kafkaesque work was, take a look here. The book contains all of Kafka's short and longer stories -- everything but his three novels. Most of these stories weren't even published during the author's lifetime. The widely-anthologized The Metamorphosis is here, wherein Gregor Samsa awakes from uneasy dreams to find himself insectoidally transformed, as are equally lovely pieces like A Hunger Artist, A Country Doctor and A Little Woman.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:42 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"All of Kafka's writing, with the exception of his three novels, is collected here and includes a number of fairly long stories followed by a group of shorter pieces varying in length from several pages to a single paragraph." Booklist.

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