Franz Kafka: The Office Writings

Edited by Jack Greenberg, Stanley Corngold, & Benno Wagner

{Princeton University Press: 2008}

Summer 2009

Edited by Professor Jack Greenberg, Princeton University professor Stanley Corngold, and University of Siegen professor Benno Wagner, Franz Kafka: The Office Writings is a compilation of Kafka’s work as a prominent and acclaimed litigator during the first decades of the 20th century.

A renowned literary master, Kafka was also a high-ranking lawyer with the Workmen’s Accident Insurance Institute in Germany. The new book celebrates the 125th anniversary of Kafka’s birth and brings together for the first time English translations of Kafka’s most important professional writing.

The compliation sheds light on Kafka’s role as a major contributor to legal reform in the field of workmen’s accident insurance. Included are Kafka’s perspectives on workmen’s compensation and safety, letters arguing for a raise in his salary, and appeals for founding a psychiatric hospital for shell-shocked veterans. Kafka’s writing also serves to detail the important issues of his time, such as the invention of the automobile and the dangers of excavating quarries while drunk.

The articles, briefs, and letters included in the compilation show a side of Kafka that is less known: the clever bureaucrat and sharp litigator. The work also highlights his thoughts on social, political, and legal issues specific to his time—much of which are also captured in the novels and stories he penned.

The book includes valuable commentary by Greenberg, one of America’s most prominent civil rights lawyers and Columbia Law School’s Alphonse Fletcher Professor of Law, and Corngold and Wagner, two of the world’s leading Kafka scholars.