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Checking the Czech: Translating the Definitive Kafka Biography from German into English

Kafka biosFranz Kafka felt like a stranger everywhere. He was Jewish and a speaker of German in Prague, was estranged from his father, yearned to devote his time to writing in spite of his career as an attorney, was a bachelor with a string of failed engagements, and produced three fragmented novels. Hear special guest Shelley Frisch, an award-winning translator, reveal how Franz Kafka’s rootedness in Prague shaped his life and works as reflected in Reiner Stach’s monumental Kafka biography, and discuss the agony and the ecstasy of translating this definitive biography into English. A book signing will follow.


shelley frisch portraitShelley Frisch taught at Columbia University while serving as Executive Editor of The Germanic Review, then chaired the Haverford/Bryn Mawr Bi-College German Department before turning to translation full-time in the 1990s.  She has published widely on German literature, film, cabaret, and the political and linguistic dimensions of exile, as well as on translation; her book on origin of language theories, The Lure of the Linguistic, was published in 2004.  Her many translations from the German include biographies of Nietzsche, Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and Kafka, for which she was awarded the Modern Language Association Translation Prize and the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize.  Her forthcoming translations include a dual biography of Marlene Dietrich and Leni Riefenstahl and the final volume of the Kafka biography trilogy.  She also co-directs international translation workshops, and lives in Princeton, New Jersey.


The Great Stories Author Series is sponsored by CRST International and Dr. Margaret Haupt.

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September 10, 2015
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Event Category:


National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library


National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
1400 Inspiration Pl SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404 United States
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