Bodleian celebrates Kafka

1 July 2008

MS._Kafka_554To mark the 125th anniversary of the birth of one of the world’s greatest writers, the Bodleian Library is putting on special public display a small number of items from its Franz Kafka collection.

The display entitled From Birth to Immortality includes a copy of the author’s birth certificate, photographs, postcards and manuscripts of his famous works, The Judgement, The Metamorphosis and The Castle.

The Bodleian Library holds the majority of the writer’s autograph manuscripts. Although Kafka’s explicit wishes were for his manuscripts to be destroyed, they were rescued by the authors’ life-long friend, Max Brod, who published them post mortem. The manuscripts themselves narrowly escaped the entry of the German Army into Prague in 1939 and, later in Tel Aviv, the Suez Crisis in 1956. They were finally brought from Switzerland to Oxford by Sir Malcolm Pasley in a small private car in 1961.

Franz Kafka is one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, giving this collection tremendous importance to literary scholars worldwide. It represents a significant proportion of his extant papers and includes autograph manuscripts of his works, diaries and correspondence with friends and family. Also present are his Hebrew exercises, photographs and various other documents. Their arrival to the Bodleian Library in 1961 made Oxford an important centre of Kafka scholarship.

Margaret Czepiel, Curator, Bodleian Library, said: ‘The Library is privileged to hold the papers of this extraordinary writer. After a remarkable journey, they arrived at the Bodleian Library and, with the support and help of the Kafka family, have formed a focus for important scholarship ever since.’

Opening hours

30 June - 26 July 2008

Monday to Friday:
9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.

9.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.

Exhibition Room
Old Schools Quadrangle
Catte Street

Admission free.


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