Most of us know what Kafkaesque means even if we've never read a word Kafka wrote.
For example, it's Kafkaesque when your smart home turns on you. It's not Kafkaesque when you wait in line for two hours at DMV and they close the line when you get to the front. (Well, it's a little Kafkaesque.)
Franz Kafka, the man whose absurdly dark stories inspired the adjective of the same name, was an ascetic and introspective man. He was given to self-doubt, concerned over his health and obsessed with writing. He said his need to write "left empty all those abilities which were directed toward the joys of sex, eating, drinking, philosophical reflection, and above all music."
Today, we talk about the man behind the adjective and the truly Kafkaesque trial to determine who owned his papers.
- Benjamin Balint - Library fellow at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. He’s the author of most recently, Kafka’s Last Trial: The Case of a Literary Legacy.
- Peter Kuper - Freelance illustrator who has written and illustrated Mad Magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy” since 1997. He adapted Kafka's The Metamorphosis into comics. His most recent graphic novel is Kafkaesque.
- Charlotte Ahlin - Writer, playwright, actor and artist.
Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show, which originally aired on January 9, 2019.
Special thanks to: Lydia Brown, Jonathan McNicol, Catie Talarski and Lily Tyson