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Kafka on the (Adriatic) Shore: The Story Behind Franz Kafka’s Never-Published Travel Guides


Traveling on a budget? You might want to consult Franz Kafka. 

While touring through Switzerland, the Adriatic, and northern Italy years before writing Metamorphosis, Kafka, along with his companion Max Brod, sensed a gap in the market: candid travel guides that went deeper than surface-level restaurant and hotel reviews. Expanding on the Baedeker Guides which were ubiquitous in Europe at the time, Kafka and Brod sought to answer the real burning questions travelers may have, like, how much should I tip? Or, where can I find erotic entertainment on a budget? The proposed guides would also have suggestions for conversing in various cities.

Revealed in the latest installment of his three-part biography about the posthumously famous writer, entitled Kafka: the Early Years (Shelley Frisch’s translation was published last month), author Reiner Stach reveals how the concept came to be—and why it never saw the light of day. The book discusses a mishap in a Zurich swimming pool during the pair’s research, and their reluctance to reveal the idea in full to their publisher in fear of it getting scooped. Needless to say, the pipe dream (which they expected would yield millions) went back into the vault, and Kafka went on to write what’s often referred to as the greatest short story of all time. Still, we’d have loved to hear in his own words which vermin-riddled hotels to avoid.

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Read the full story over at The Guardian.

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