I read a really interesting, if short, article in the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday that I thought other people might interesting. I discovered that when Kafka passed away, he entrusted all his manuscripts to his friend Max Brod to destroy upon his death.
Mr Brod did not, however, destroy them as requested. Instead he kept them and published them. Mr Brod then bequeathed them to his secretary Esther Hoffe. The original documents were left in the vaults of Swiss Bank UBS for safekeeping.
Now there is a legal action over who holds ownership rights to the documents. Brod fled the Nazi regime in 1939, and emigrated to Israel. As a result, Israel are claiming they the documents are the property of the state of Israel. On the other hand, Esther Hoffe's sisters are now saying that they hold ownership rights of the documents since their sister Esther passed away.
Two things strike me about this scenario:
The first, is just how 'Bold and the Beautiful-esque' this seems. It seems so surreal to think that there is crazy battle over ownership between a country and two women who are so far removed from Kafka himself.
The second thing is this; I can't help but wonder what Kafka himself would make of it. He is often thought of as one of the most talented writers there has ever been. Metamorphosis is often described as one of the most brilliant pieces of literature ever written. And yet here we are in 2010, having a soap opera worthy legal battle over ownership of original manuscripts that Kafka wanted destroyed.