As the author of such classics of existential despair as "The Trial" and "The Castle," Kafka, who died in 1924, has long inspired a loyal readership and has even contributed an adjective to the English language -- "Kafkaesque" -- meaning a surreal sense of impending danger, perhaps from a repressive government or bureaucracy.
But Kafka's original manuscripts, notes, letters and diaries had been kept under lock and key in Tel Aviv by Esther Hoffe, the longtime secretary of the late writer Max Brod. Brod, Kafka's friend, had fled Prague in 1939 with the papers and bequeathed them to Hoffe, The New York Times reported Monday.
With Hoffe's death last year at 101, his daughter Hava has indicated she will make a decision soon on the fate of the Kafka materials. Scholars and fans say they are anxiously awaiting the chance to view them. The question is where.
"This material belongs in Jerusalem," Mark Gelber, a Kafka scholar and a professor of comparative literature at Ben Gurion University in Beersheba told the Times.