The Case of Kafka's Case: The Final Decision (And This Time They Mean It)

on Thursday, July 2, 2015
It was the kind of drawn out bureaucratic nightmare that would have made the great man himself proud.

Seven years after it first hit the courts, a final decision has been made in the case of Franz Kafka's piss-stained suitcase and the evil hoarder (well, surviving twin daughter of Max Brod's secretary Esther Hoffe). No doubt you remember how it went: Brod carked it, his secretary kept his stuff (admittedly in accordance with his direction) and then sold bits of it the highest bidder (very much not in accordance with his wishes). Fast forward a short while. Hoffe kicked the bucket and her daughters kept up the family tradition of profiting from what was not rightfully theirs. The authorities started to grumble so the wily ladies (who, it seems, were out-Collyering the Collyers) instituted proceedings to have the Kafka works declared theirs. Bad move. They lost. Then one died. So Eva Hoffe appealed. And lost. Which brings us to now. The court, in a moment of clarity, dismissed the appeal and said that the National Library of Israel was the rightful beneficiary of Brod's last wish that all his possessions should be entrusted in their entirety to the public archives. Of course, we are still none the wiser as to what might actually be inside the case. Other than dried cat piss and fur balls, I'm hazarding a guess at the following:

Kafka's stamp collection/shopping list/pros and cons list re: Dora Diamant/jar of nail clippings/summer comedy routine
The first draft of another Harper Lee novel
A blotted facsimile of Bruno Schulz's Messiah
The Holy Grail
Amelia Earhart
A novel that I'm going to actually have a coronary over when I hear of its existence.

Whatever it is, we should know in the next few months. There are no more appeals to be had. What's more, the National Library of Israel has already committed to scanning and posting all the manuscripts to the net. Anyone able to recommend a good crash course in German?


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