New York, East
24 April 2001
KAFKA, Franz. Betrachtung. Leipzig: Ernst Rowohlt Verlag, 1913 [dated 1912 on verso of title].
8o. Original printed orange wrappers, uncut (small piece missing from foot of spine, light staining to covers), cloth folding case.
FIRST EDITION OF KAFKA'S FIRST BOOK, limited issue, number 412 of 800 copies. VERY RARE: one of about 300 copies sold with the Ernst Rowohlt imprint and published in association with Kurt Wolff. After their partnership ended in November 1912, Wolff took over the publishing company, renaming it "Kurt Wolff Verlag" in 1913. The remaining sheets were re-issued in 1915 with a new title-page and the new imprint. Kafka was introduced to Kurt Wolff by his friend Max Brod in Leipzig on June 29, 1912. This meeting and their relationship is well documented in their letters and diaries. Kafka was reluctant to send Wolff his "little work of prose" but Brod eventually convinced him to submit the Meditations. To make a book out of this thin manuscript Kafka requested the "largest type possible." Kafka was very enthusiastic about Wolff's first draft with the 'tertia' sized type, and wrote that the proof looked "indeed most beautiful." In a review, Robert Musil commented on the Meditations and its typography: "... in these deliberate, page-filling sentences ... there is something of the painstaking melancholy of the figure skater as he inscribes his ample loops and figures on the ice." Half of the 18 short texts had previously appeared in the journal Hyperion in 1908. Dietz 17; Wilpert/Gühring 1.
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