Sisters ordered to give up Kafka's papers

Jan. 21, 2010 at 12:05 PM

TEL AVIV, Israel, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Two Israeli sisters will appeal a court order to relinquish manuscripts by Franz Kafka to the National Library of Israel, a lawyer for one of them said.

Eva Hoffe and Ruth Wisler of Tel Aviv were left the influential author's priceless documents in the will of their mother, Esther Hoffe, who died in 2008 at age 101, The Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.

Esther Hoffe was the secretary of Max Brod, Kafka's friend and executor. Brod posthumously published Kafka's works, and when Brod died in 1968, many of Kafka's original documents passed to Hoffe, the British newspaper reported.

Hoffe, who kept the documents in her humid Tel Aviv apartment through which dozens of cats roamed, sold many of Kafka's papers, the newspaper said.

A court ordered the sisters to work out a deal with the library within 15 days, or the bank deposit boxes in which the sisters placed the remaining papers will be opened and the documents cataloged.

"Max Brod's will ordered (Esther Hoffe) to make the proper arrangements to have the manuscripts placed in the public archives. She failed to do that and has tried to pass on this responsibility to her daughters," said Meir Heller, the library's lawyer.

Eva Hoffe's lawyer said she would appeal the order, as Brod's will "did not preclude selling (the papers) overseas or passing them on to her daughters."

Kafka was a Jewish fiction writer born in Prague, in what then was Austria-Hungary and is now the Czech Republic. He died of starvation brought on by complications of tuberculosis in 1924 at age 40. Among his most notable pieces are "The Trial," "The Castle" and "The Metamorphosis."

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