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September 13, 2002 - Image 117

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-09-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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riential exhibit, Levitov says. "You
come away knowing a lot about Kafka,
even if you haven't read his works."
Although Kafka died unrecognized
in his lifetime, he is now considered
one of the foremost literary figures of
the 20th century. Scholars believe he

The Messiah will only arrive
when we no longer need him.''

— Franz Kafka, "Octavo Notebook G"

was precocious in his understanding of
modern man and existential angst.
And, Levitov points out, his overrid-
ing theme — the dangers to individual
freedom when bureaucracy, power and
the law get out of hand — continues
to be relevant in the 21st century. ❑

"The City of K.: Franz Kafka
and Prague" runs through Jan. 5,
2003, at the Jewish Museum,
1109 Fifth Avenue, New York
City. Museum hours are 10 a.m.-
5:45 p.m. Sunday; 11 a.m.-5:45
p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 11
a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m.-3
p.m. Friday; closed Saturday.
$8/adults; $5.50/students and
seniors; children under 12 free;
pay what you wish 5-8 p.m.
Thursdays. For information, call
(212) 423-3200 or visit
vvww.thejewishmuseum.org .

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Model of the old town (1826-1834), where Kafka's first three homes, the school, the
university and his office were located.

cating atmosphere in the exhibit's rep-
resentation of Kafka's story "The
Endless Office." The same symbolism
relates to other stories and the novels
The Trial and Amerika, in which
bureaucracy becomes overwhelming
for his characters.
In one of Kafka's
most celebrated
works, The
Metamorphosis (a first
edition appears in the
exhibit), main charac-
ter Gregor Samsa
awakens as a bug. His
first concern is not
about being an insect,
but about being late for work. This
exemplifies the filing cabinets growing
oppressively large, according to
Levitov.
Although Kafka and his family did
not experience overt anti-Semitism, it
did exist, including the famous
Hilsner case in 1899, dubbed the
Dreyfus Affair of Central Europe. The
exhibit includes documents about the
case, in which a Jewish man was
wrongly accused and convicted of
blood libel in the murder of a
Christian woman.
Kafka died of tuberculosis on June
3, 1924, just shy of his 41st birthday.
He is buried in the Jewish Cemetery
in Prague.
Max Brod, Kafka's lifelong friend,
defied Kafka's deathbed wish to
destroy all his manuscripts and pub-
lished them instead.
One does not need to be a Kafka
expert to benefit from the highly expe-

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Monday - Saturday 11-9:30 • Sunday 4 9

-

2002

89

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