Kafka Goes to the Movies

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Born in 1947 in Nuremburg, Germany, Hanns Zischler is an author, actor, and publisher whose credits include appearances in more than a dozen films, and two previous books, Day Trips (1993) and You Can’t Judge a Book by It’s Cover (1995). Zischler’s Kafka Goes to the Movies provides a detailed study of the development of early European cinema and its possible impact on the creative and philosophical outlook of Franz Kafka, one of the twentieth century’s most complex and celebrated authors.

Drawing on Kafka’s diary entries, letters, and literary works, Zischler discusses some of the early films that captured Kafka’s imagination, many of which no longer exist in viewable form or have been long forgotten. Interspersed throughout the book are quotations from Kafka’s writings that reveal his curiosity about the new medium of film, and that provide some insight into his creative imagination.

While Zischler’s work makes compelling though somewhat speculative conclusions about the nature of the cinema’s influence on Kafka, the book also presents a meticulously researched history of the early years of European film. Zischler includes numerous still photographs and obscure film posters and advertisements of the period. The product of years of research in cities throughout Europe, Kafka Goes to the Movies offers a previously unavailable portrait of aspects of Kafka’s life, his fascination with film, and its possible impact on his unique and enigmatic approach to writing.