Transforming Kafka: Translation Effects
Published: August 2022© 2014
224 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 1.00 in
Lyrical, mysterious, and laden with symbolism, Franz Kafka’s novels and stories have been translated into more than forty languages ranging from Icelandic to Japanese. In Transforming Kafka, Patrick O’Neill approaches these texts through the method he pioneered in Polyglot Joyce and Impossible Joyce, considering the many translations of each work as a single, multilingual “macrotext.”
Examining three novels – The Trial, The Castle, and America – and two short stories – “The Judgment” and “The Metamorphosis” – O’Neill offers comparative readings that consider both intertextual and intratextual themes. His innovative approach shows how comparing translations extends and expands the potential meanings of the text and reveals the subtle differences among the hundreds of translations of Kafka’s work. A sophisticated analysis of the ways in which translation shapes, rearranges, and expands our understanding of literary works, Transforming Kafka is a unique approach to reading the works of a literary giant.
‘Transforming Kafka is a peculiarly original and rewarding introduction to the author’s corpus as well as to its transmutations beyond German. By deftly comparing opening paragraphs, titles, and proper names of five canonical texts in a range of translations, O’Neill elucidates prevailing themes and isolates pervasive ambiguities in Kafka.’Andre Furlani, Canadian Literature issue number 226
“Patrick O’Neill’s Transforming Kafka is the work of an erudite scholar of German literature who has kept very close company with Franz Kafka. O’Neill displays a deep intimacy with each of the key Kafka texts, as well as a thorough knowledge of the history of Kafka’s literary legacy.” Ruth Schwertfeger, Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee