Max Brod Criticism - Essay

Stefan Zweig (essay date 1928)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A foreword to The Redemption of Tycho Brahe by Max Brod, translated by Felix Warren Crosse, Alfred A. Knopf, 1928, pp. v-x.

[In the following foreword to Brod's novel The Redemption of Tycho Brahe, Zweig praises Brod as a poetic writer.]

It would be a tempting task to draw the portraits of all those poets whose power has gradually developed from frail beginnings; for the error still seems widely current that for every artist, youth is a period of violent activity, of high spirits that overflow into arrogance, of self-confidence in full flower insolently demanding attention, the Bakkalaureus in Faust. But in actual fact, among poets is not that...

(The entire section is 2054 words.)

R. Wellek (review date 1938)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Kafka's Life,” in Scrutiny, Vol. 7, No. 1, 1938, pp. 86-9.

[In the following review, Wellek praises Brod's biography of Franz Kafka as a worthy addition to Kafka scholarship.]

Franz Kafka's work seems at first sight almost timeless and placeless. It hovers in a rarefied atmosphere of metaphysical horror. In his whole work there is not a single allusion to Bohemia except the scene in St. Vitus Cathedral in the Trial, nor anything which would show any interest in the problems which moved the many contemporary German writers who came from Prague. Rilke at least in his early poems and stories is preoccupied with the fascination of his home town and...

(The entire section is 1330 words.)

Lienhard Bergel (essay date 1946)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Max Brod and Herbert Tauber,” in Kafka Problem, edited by Angel Flores, New Directions, 1946, pp. 391-97.

[In the following essay, Bergel contrasts Brod's biography of Franz Kafka with the critical analysis of Kafka's works published later by Herbert Tauber.]

In 1937 Max Brod published a biography of his friend Kafka as a supplement to the six volumes of Kafka's Collected Works. [Franz Kafka] is rather an accumulation of material for a biography than a fully developed picture of Kafka's life. The richness of source material (unpublished letters, diaries and sketches, fragments of conversations) constitutes the main value of the book; it...

(The entire section is 2244 words.)

Irving Howe (review date 12 July 1947)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Brod on Kafka,” in The Nation, New York, July 12, 1947, pp. 47-8.

[In the following review, Howe describes Brod's Kafka biography as “painfully self-conscious and unsatisfactory.”]

Max Brod is in an impossible position. A lifelong friend of Kafka, he is himself a writer and is therefore expected to write a biography. But in the eyes of the world he has become a mere figure in the Kafka myth; he has lost independent existence. He is evidence. An ordinary citizen could perhaps tolerate such a relationship, but for a writer it is self-obliteration. No wonder then that, despite its value as a document, Brod's book [Franz Kafka] is so...

(The entire section is 1113 words.)

Walter J. Ong (review date June 1948)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Franz Kafka: A Biography, in Thought, Vol. 23, No. 89, June, 1948, pp. 316-17.

[In the following review, Ong praises the first English translation of Brod's Kafka biography.]

Max Brod's life of Kafka [Franz Kafka] is here presented in excellent English translation for the first time following its appearance in German in 1937. Kafka's life does not admit of offhand discussion, for in it many of the ferments acting on men's lives today work at a depth and with a vigor which produced in Kafka's narratives some of the most significant art of our time. Kafka died in Prague in 1924 at the age of forty-one. His world had been simultaneously...

(The entire section is 568 words.)

Lutz Weltmann (essay date 1950)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Kafka's Friend, Max Brod: The Work of a Mediator,” in German Life and Letters, Vol. 4, 1950, pp. 46-50.

[In the following essay, Weltmann discusses Brod's ability to bridge differences in his writing and philosophy.]

Max Brod is chiefly known in this country as the editor of Kafka's works. ‘Dr.’ Max Brod, as he is called whenever his name is mentioned, is, however, a great writer in his own right and an independent philosopher, too. As his philosophy has not been shaped into a ‘system’ and a considerable part of his philosophical thought is enshrouded in his fiction, posterity will have to decide—and decide it will—which is the greater. Already...

(The entire section is 2333 words.)

Herbert Howarth (review date May 1952)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Double Liberation,” in Commentary, Vol. 13, No. 5, May, 1952, pp. 508-10.

[In the following review, Howarth considers Unambo to be a powerful novel more worthy of Brod's intellect than his earlier works.]

The first fifty pages of Unambo almost defeat the good will which is inspired by the name of Max Brod. The effort-ridden writing gives the impression that this critic, scholar, musician, poet—famous once in Czechoslovakia, and now in Israel—has set himself an impossible task in applying a medieval devil-fantasy to the contemporary scene and its problems. Then at page 57 he uses the fable of the tyrant Phalaris and his steer of...

(The entire section is 806 words.)

Felix Weltsch (essay date Winter 1965)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Max Brod: A Study in Unity and Duality,” in Judaism, Vol. 14, No. 1, Winter, 1965, pp. 48-59.

[In the following essay, Weltsch examines paradoxes and contrasts in Brod's fiction.]

Shortly after he completed the following appreciation of his closest friend Max Brod, on the occasion of the latter's 80th birthday, Felix Weltsch died in Jerusalem on November 8, 1964, only a few weeks after having himself reached the age of 80. Of the trio of Kafka, Brod and Weltsch, whose unique friendship is reflected in Kafka's published Diaries and Letters, only Brod is now left.

Because of his modest manner, and also perhaps because of...

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Times Literary Supplement (review date 26 January 1967)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Writing from Prague,” in Times Literary Supplement, No. 3387, January 26, 1967, p. 71.

[In the following review, the critic finds Der Prager Kreis to be a notable accompaniment to Brod's autobiography.]

Der Prager Kreis, a volume of reminiscences and observations, is a welcome complement to Herr Max Brod's autobiography, Streitbares Leben, published in 1960. At the age of eighty-two Max Brod has lost none of his zest, none of the generous devotion to the work of other writers which has made his name inseparable from that of Kafka. His retrospective account of the Prague Circle—he rightly asserts that there was no such thing as a...

(The entire section is 468 words.)

Angela Habermann (essay date Winter 1984)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “‘Indifferentism’ in the Early Fiction of Max Brod: The Representation of Decadence in the Prague Circle,” in The International Fiction Review, Vol. 11, No. 1, Winter, 1984, pp. 47-50.

[In the following essay, Habermann discusses Brod's representations of decadence in his early fiction.]

Despite a growing interest in the cultural phenomenon of decadence, the notion as a specific aesthetic quality has largely remained mystified by clichés and labels since its emergence in mid-nineteenth-century France. Decadence has yet to be accepted as a representation of social discourse, each variant changing according to its sociohistorical presuppositions. The...

(The entire section is 1939 words.)

Margarita Pazi (essay date 1987)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Max Brod,” in Modern Austrian Literature, Vol. 20, Nos. 3 & 4, 1987, pp. 81-93.

[In the following essay, Pazi examines the characteristics of the Prague Circle and suggests reasons for Brod's lack of wide critical acceptance in the United States.]

The literary oeuvre of Max Brod comprises ninety-five titles—novels, plays, anthologies of poems, and short stories, and semi-philosophical works—not to mention the many important essays and articles and the innumerable reviews written by him as a literary and theater critic in Prague and Tel-Aviv. Of all these writings only seven books have been translated and published in the United States. They were...

(The entire section is 5545 words.)

Margarita Pazi (essay date 1993)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Max Brod: Unambo,” in Turn-of-the-Century Vienna and Its Legacy: Essays in Honor of Donald G. Daviau, Jeffrey B. Berlin, Jorun B. Johns, Richard H. Lawson, eds., Edition Atelier, 1993, pp. 425-41.

[In the following essay, Pazi suggests that the novel Unambo represents a shift in Brod's approach to philosophical problems.]

Again and again, in talking about the writers of the famous Prague circle, scholars have made pointed reference to the polemic substrata of the literary works of its members, explaining these as the product of that city's unique atmosphere of spiritual and intellectual restlessness. As Max Brod and others of the writers of...

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Ehrhard Bahr (essay date 1996)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Max Brod as a Novelist: From the Jewish Zeitroman to the Zionist Novel,” in Von Franzos zu Canetti: Judische Autoren aus Osterreich Neue Studien, Mark H. Gelber, Hans Otto Horch, Sigurd Paul Scheichl, eds., Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1996, pp. 25-36.

[In the following essay, Bahr examines Brod's contributions to several novelistic genres.]

Brod's reputation as a prose writer was overshadowed by his fame as Kafka's friend, biographer, interpreter, and editor of Kafka's posthumous writings.1 By 1948, Brod's Kafka biography was widely read, but hardly any of his own works of fiction. This was not always the case. Around 1915, when Kafka had...

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Ritchie Robertson (essay date 1997)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Mothers and Lovers in Some Novels by Kafka and Brod,” in German Life and Letters, Vol. 50, No. 4, October, 1997, pp. 475-90.

[In the following essay, Robertson examines Brod's and Kafka's approach to women in their novels.]

The growth of women's studies has helped to open up the wider terrain of gender studies, including the study of masculinity. Instead of being considered a known quantity, the standard against which women's difference could be measured and explored, masculinity is itself a problematic concept, and the extent to which it is a socially constructed set of meanings, rather than a biological given, has by now received ample attention....

(The entire section is 7727 words.)