Kafka’s Last Trial

Kevin Jackson at Literary Review:

The question of who owns Kafka is at the heart of Benjamin Balint’s thought-provoking and assiduously researched Kafka’s Last Trial, which (to simplify) is about the attempt by the state of Israel to prevent the sale of Kafka’s manuscripts from a private collection there to anywhere overseas, particularly to the German Literature Archive in Marbach. Spoiler alert for those who were not reading the newspapers in 2016: the state won. But Balint’s book is not so much about the outcome as it is about the arguments that were brought forward.

The reason Kafka’s papers ended up in Israel is simple: Brod, a Zionist, brought them there. After Brod’s death, in 1968, the archive passed to his secretary and confidante Esther Hoffe. She died in 2007 at the age of 101, leaving the papers to her daughters Eva and Ruth; Ruth died not long afterwards, leaving Eva Hoffe as the owner of the cache, which was of considerable size. 

more here.