Kafka, the Artist

Nicholas Sawicki at the LARB:

The author of some of the most acclaimed works of the modern literary canon, including The Trial (1925), The Castle (1926), and The Metamorphosis (1915), was drawing and sketching extensively before he published a single word. Brod, Kafka’s closest friend and literary executor, held on to as many of the drawings as he could. When Kafka died in 1924, Brod famously disregarded the author’s instructions that everything was “to be burned, completely and unread.” He spent the rest of his life publishing and promoting Kafka’s work, and when he fled the Nazi occupation of Prague in 1939 for Palestine, he took Kafka’s papers and drawings with him. He published a small selection of the pictures in his biographical writings on Kafka and sold two of them to the Albertina in Vienna. Others appeared in Kafka’s diaries, today at the Bodleian Library at Oxford, which Brod edited for publication in 1948. This is all the world has known until now of Kafka’s art — scarcely 40 or so drawings and sketches from what was once a far larger corpus, much of it lost or destroyed, and the rest mostly invisible to the public until this year.

more here.