German Kafka scholars slam Brit writer over porn claims

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London, August 15 : A British academic's claims that writer Franz Kafka had a penchant for hard porn has outraged German scholars.

Furious German academics were reacting to James Hawes' claims in his book 'Excavating Kafka' that the writer was a subscriber to upmarket pornography.

They accused Hawes of prudishness, sensationalism, and even anti-semitism.

"Hawes has given us a look through the keyhole of a Kafka with his trousers down ... but to call the illustrated magazines he subscribed to as hardcore porn, is like comparing a poem by Heinrich Heine with an advertising slogan for McDonald's," the Guardian quoted Anjana Shrivastava, a Kafka researcher on Spiegel Online, as saying.

She said that Hawes had made himself a "preacher of hate" in the world of Kafka scholars.

The critics also rubbished Hawes' claim that Kafka kept his pornography under lock and key in a safe on his bookshelf, insisting that it carried a savings book the writer did not want his family to know about.

"This is some idiot ... who knows nothing about Kafka, but writes about him as if he did," legendary German Kafka critic Klaus Wagenbach told the Frankfurter Allgemeine.

Rainer Stach, a Kafka biographer, branded the furore surrounding the book an "unbelievable marketing ploy".

Hawes, an Oxford graduate who teaches creative writing at Oxford Brookes University, hit back at his critics saying that none of them had read his book.

He accused his critics of operating a "conspiracy of censorship".

He said that he had made no claims to have discovered Kafka's penchant for pornography and brothel visits, but had explored why Kafka scholars had chosen to virtually ignore the topic.

"We're talking about a writer whose psyche the experts have been so keen to decipher. They have pored over every memorandum he ever wrote, every insurance report he ever compiled, looking for clues. Yet they have chosen not to show this undoubtedly very dark stuff," he said.

"I don't remotely claim it's a discovery of mine, but I was genuinely shocked when I first saw it, because I had never seen it in any academic biography of Kafka. The experts' conspiracy of censorship is entertainingly curious," he added.

ANI

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