Transforming Kafka

Transforming Kafka: Translation Effects

PATRICK O’NEILL
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt1287s4n
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  • Book Info
    Transforming Kafka
    Book Description:

    Lyrical, mysterious, and laden with symbolism, Franz Kafka's novels and stories have been translated into more than forty languages ranging from Icelandic to Japanese. InTransforming Kafka, Patrick O'Neill approaches these texts through the method he pioneered inPolyglot JoyceandImpossible Joyce, considering the many translations of each work as a single, multilingual "macrotext."

    Examining three novels -The Trial,The Castle, andAmerica- and two short stories - "The Judgment" and "The Metamorphosis" - O'Neill offers comparative readings that consider both intertextual and intratextual themes. His innovative approach shows how comparing translations extends and expands the potential meanings of the text and reveals the subtle differences among the hundreds of translations of Kafka's work. A sophisticated analysis of the ways in which translation shapes, rearranges, and expands our understanding of literary works,Transforming Kafkais a unique approach to reading the works of a literary giant.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2379-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    The extraordinary oeuvre of Franz Kafka has been translated an extraordinary number of times into an extraordinary number of languages. So much so, indeed, that no single reader, however impossibly gifted he or she might be linguistically, could ever hope to live long enough to read all the texts involved – all the original texts, that is to say,andall the renderings in the more than 40 languages involved to date.Transforming Kafka: Translation Effectsexplores two key aspects of this multilingual Kafka phenomenon, one involving bibliographical description, the other involving comparative reading.

    An obvious first approach would be...

  5. 1 Kafka Translated
    (pp. 13-30)

    Kafka’s first short prose pieces and sketches began to appear, in their original German, in literary journals in 1908, and by the time of his death 16 years later he had published six slim volumes, with a seventh in press, and on that basis was already a recognized and respected figure in German and Austrian literary circles.Betrachtung(Meditation), a collection of 18 short prose sketches, appeared in 1912;Der Heizer(The Stoker) in 1913;Die Verwandlung(The Metamorphosis) in 1915;Das Urteil(The Judgment) in 1916;In der Strafkolonie(In the Penal Colony) in 1919;Ein Landarzt(A Country...

  6. 2 Kafka’s Judgments
    (pp. 31-58)

    Written in September 1912, Kafka’s short narrativeDas Urteil(The Judgment) first appeared inArkadia, a literary yearbook edited by Max Brod for the Kurt Wolff Verlag of Leipzig, in 1913. It appeared in book form in 1916, likewise published by the Kurt Wolff Verlag, and it made its first appearance in English in 1928 asThe Sentence, translated by Eugene Jolas, followed in 1945 by a translation by Rosa Beuscher asThe Judgmentand in 1948 by what became for many years the standard English version,The Judgment, translated by Willa and Edwin Muir.

    The story is quickly summarized....

  7. 3 Kafka’s Metamorphoses
    (pp. 59-78)

    Kafka’s storyDie Verwandlung, written in late 1912, was first published in the monthly literary journalDie weißen Blätter(Leipzig) in October 1915 and appeared in book form later the same year, published by Kurt Wolff Verlag of Leipzig. It made its first complete appearance in English asThe Metamorphosis, translated by A.L. Lloyd, in 1937. An English translation in three parts, by Eugene Jolas, simultaneously appeared in Paris under the titleMetamorphosis, published over three issues of the journaltransitionin 1936, 1937, and 1938 – Jolas’s translation of the opening chapter thus anticipating Lloyd’s version. A third translation,...

  8. 4 Kafka’s Americas
    (pp. 79-97)

    The first of Kafka’s three unfinished novels to be written (though the last to be published) appeared in Munich in 1927 asAmerika, a title provided by Max Brod. It first appeared in English in Willa and Edwin Muir’s translation, published in Britain in 1938 asAmericaand in the United States two years later asAmerika. Kafka’s separately published storyDer Heizer(1913) also served as the opening chapter ofAmerikaand first appeared in English in 1938 as the first chapter (“The Stoker”) of the Muirs’ translation of the novel.Der Heizerhas been separately translated a number...

  9. 5 Kafka’s Trials
    (pp. 98-115)

    Kafka’s unfinished novel Der Prozes, written in 1914–15, appeared in 1925, edited by his friend and fellow Prague writer Max Brod – who deserves Kafka’s readers’ undying gratitude for ignoring Kafka’s stated wish that the manuscript was to be destroyed. The novel made its first appearance in English in Willa and Edwin Muir’s translation asThe Trial, published in London by Gollancz in 1935 and in New York by Knopf in 1937. It tells the story of Josef K. (Joseph K. in a number of translations, including the Muirs’), who wakes up on the morning of his thirtieth birthday...

  10. 6 Kafka’s Castles
    (pp. 116-137)

    Kafka’s unfinished novelDas Schloß, written in 1922–3, was first published in 1926, after his death, once again edited by his friend Max Brod despite Kafka’s express instructions that the manuscript should be destroyed. It appeared in English in 1930, translated by Willa and Edwin Muir, asThe Castle. It tells the story of K., who may (possibly by mistake) or may not have been summoned to serve as land surveyor to the authorities of the titular castle. Refused entry on his arrival, K. resolves to penetrate what will turn out to be an enormously convoluted organization, rejecting what...

  11. 7 Kafka’s Titles
    (pp. 138-157)

    The title of any literary work constitutes a crucial opening move in the encounter between reader and text. Kafka’s works, both in German and in translation, offer a particularly interesting field for exploring the role of titles as a constituent factor shaping readerly response to the literary text. Although considerable valuable work has been carried out internationally in recent decades on the semiotic status of the titles of literary works, much of the research in question focuses by its nature on classificational questions rather than on the specific role of the title we shall be considering in this chapter, namely...

  12. 8 Kafka’s Names
    (pp. 158-172)

    Kafka’s play with his characters’ names, and in particular, his play with variations on his own name and that of his sometime fiancée Felice Bauer, has long been recognized as a significant element of his fictional universe.66What is still open for debate is how readers should most appropriately react to such names as constitutive elements of the literary text – including when that text is a translation. For there may of course also be onomastic effects generated specifically by translations, most obviously the degree to which characters’ names retain or shed or alter their particular textual resonances in the...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 173-178)

    The thrust of theKritische Ausgabeor critical edition of Kafka’s works that appeared in Germany between 1982 and 1994, replacing the earlier texts edited in decidedly subjective fashion by Kafka’s friend and literary colleague Max Brod, was the establishment of a single authentic and authoritative text. The present work, close to the other extreme of the textual spectrum, has focused instead on a plurality of texts that all have some claim to be genuine Kafka, with each translation of each individual Kafka text arguably being the very words of this Kafka as far as its individual readers are concerned...

  14. Appendix: Macrotextual Contours
    (pp. 179-188)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 189-216)
  16. Index
    (pp. 217-222)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 223-223)