Kafka's Last Trial? Contested Literary Legacies and Cultural Property
Benjamin Balint, Stefan Litt
Chair: Rebecca Abrams
When Franz Kafka died in 1924, his loyal champion Max Brod could not bring himself to fulfil his friend’s last instruction: to burn his remaining manuscripts. Instead, Brod devoted the rest of his life to publishing and canonising Kafka’s work. That ‘betrayal’ of his friend’s last wish led to an international legal battle — raising the question of whether Kafka’s papers should come to rest in Germany, or be considered the cultural inheritance of Israel. Or is there another unexpected answer to this dilemma? Our panel discuss the gripping account of the Israeli court case that determined the fate of the Brod/Kafka legacy.
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Sponsored by the National Library of Israel
Benjamin Balint, a writer and translator living in Jerusalem, has taught literature in the Bard College humanities program at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem. The New York Times called his first book Running Commentary (Public Affairs, 2010) “beautifully written and richly researched.” His second book was Jerusalem: City of the Book (co-authored with Merav Mack). Balint’s reviews and essays regularly appear in The Wall Street Journal, Die Zeit, Haaretz, The Weekly Standard, and The Claremont Review of Books. His translations of Hebrew poetry have appeared in The New Yorker.
Stefan Litt is an archival expert at the National Library of Israel, where he is in charge of European language holdings, featuring authors such as Martin Buber, Stefan Zweig, Franz Kafka, and others. He received his PhD in Pre-Modern Jewish History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2001), and a post-doctoral degree (habilitation) from Graz University Austria (2008). He did research and was visiting professor at the universities of Erfurt and Duesseldorf in Germany, Graz in Austria, as well as Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan in Israel. He has published on the history of early modern European Jewry and on Jewish archival collections.