Kafka's features, and that dreaded word, Kafkaesque, are known to millions who have never read serious literature. Generations of academics and critics have maintained the image of Franz Kafka as a tortured seer whose works defy interpretation. In Excavating Kafka James Hawes reveals the truth that lies beneath the image of a middle-European Nostradamus with a typographically irresistible name. The real Franz Kafka was no angst-ridden paranoid but a well-groomed young man-about-town who frequented brothels, had regular sex with a penniless-but-pretty girl and subscribed to upmarket pornography (published by the very man who published Kafka's first stories). Excavating Kafka debunks a number of key facets of the Kafka-Myth, including the idea that Kafka was the archetypal genius neglected in his lifetime; that he was stuck in a dead-end job and struggling to find time to write; that he was tormented by fear of sex; that he had a uniquely terrible, domineering father who had no understanding of his son's needs; that his literature is mysterious and opaque; that he constructs fantasy-worlds in which innocent everymen live in fear of mysterious and totalitarian powers-that-be.
Written with the panache of a supremely gifted comic writer, Excavating Kafka is an engaging and involving reassessment of a major figure of literary modernism that will be welcomed and enjoyed by students of Kafka and by general readers alike.