Franz Kafka. The Entire Trial

Franz Kafka. The Entire Trial

30 June – 28 August 2017 Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin

“The anguish this book gives off is at moments almost unbearable; for how can one help but say to oneself: this hounded creature is I?” André Gide

More than 100 years after it was written, the complete handwritten manuscript of Franz Kafka’s famous novel The Trial is going on show at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. It will be displayed page by page in the order given to it by Kafka’s friend, executor and editor, Max Brod. The Berlin presentation is based on the 2013/2014 exhibition “The Entire Trial” at the Museum of Modern Literature in Marbach, one of the collections of the German Literature Archive in Marbach.   Stresemannstraße 111, in the immediate vicinity of the Gropiusbau (Stresemannstraße 110, then Königgrätzer Straße), was once the site of the Hotel Askanischer Hof. It was at the Askanischer Hof, on 12 July 1914, that the legendary conversation took place between Franz Kafka and Felice Bauer, her sister Erna and friend Grete Bloch, after   which the engagement between Kafka and Felice Bauer was broken off. Kafka wrote later in a journal entry that the meeting felt to him like a “law court in a hotel”. Thus the idea for his novel began to take shape. He began writing the novel in August 1914, with the First World War already being fought, and it was largely completed by January 1915. Today, The Trial is regarded as one of Franz Kafka’s major works. The surviving 171 sheets of the manuscript   contradict the notion that a novel must develop linearly and be narrated from beginning to end. During the approximately six months that he spent working on The Trial, Kafka, who earned his living as a lawyer at the “Arbeiter-Unfall- Versicherungsanstalt” (workers’ compensation insurance institution) wrote chapters   and chapter sections for the novel in ten different quarto notebooks, for the most part   made up of 40 sheets each. The work, edited by Max Brod after Kafka’s death in 1924, was first published in 1925 by the Berlin publishing house “Die Schmiede”. The exhibition is complemented by screenings of Orson Welles’ 1962 film adaptation and photographs from Klaus Wagenbach’s collection. The photograph selection was curated by Klaus Wagenbach and Hans-Gerd Koch. Translations of The Trial in more than 60 different languages will also be on display. The precious manuscript was purchased at a London auction in 1988 for approximately 3.5 million marks in a collective effort by the German Federal Government, the   Cultural Foundation of the German Federal States, and the State of Baden- Wuerttemberg, and at the time was the most expensive manuscript ever to be bought at auction.

From sources: Martin-Gropius-Bau, Press Office, Niederkirchnerstraße 7, 10963 Berlin, T +49 30 254 86–236, F +49 30 254 86–235, presse@gropiusbau.de, www.gropiusbau.de

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