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The Complete Stories

4.34 of 5 stars 4.34  ·  rating details  ·  16,187 ratings  ·  362 reviews
The Complete Stories brings together all of Kafka's stories, from the classic tales such as "The Metamorphosis," "In the Penal Colony," and "A Hunger Artist" to shorter pieces and fragments that Max Brod, Kafka's literary executor, released after Kafka's death. With the exception of his three novels, the whole of Kafka's narrative is included in this volume.
Paperback, 486 pages
Published November 14th 1995 by Schocken Books Inc. (first published 1946)
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Ben Winch
The idea that there exists such thing as a 'must read' book is one of the great fallacies diluting literature. To judge a reader unfavourably because a certain book is not on his or her shelf, rather than to praise and learn from the idiosyncratic choices to be found there instead, is to wish for a literature of bland homogenity. To label a book 'must read' is to condemn it to being misunderstood. And when that book is by the strange, reclusive, haunted black-humourist Franz Kafka, and is given ...more
Aug 19, 2007 Seth rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone, at least a little
Buy a good collection of Kafka's stories and put it in the bathroom.


If you've been led to believe that Kafka wrote drab stories about alienation and angst (and that The Metamorphosis is a tradgedy), then take a magic marker, cross out the name on the spine, and pretend it's a weird book by Dave Sedaris or something. Kafka's stories are smart, often funny, quick to read, and as modern and relevant as ever.

In the bathroom you'll probably bypass the larger works (including The Metamorphosis
Aug 19, 2008 John rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: readers who want to know the world in its noisy entirety
Recommended to John by: first, probably a teacher
The recent so-called scandalous revelations about Kafka's personal library (as if -- turns out he read a slightly edgy quarterly of arts & literature) prompt me to say something about his work. For my Goodreads list, I suppose it must be this book, an inevitable choice but nonetheless indispensable (I should add, too, that I can't really specify when I read the COLLECTED STORIES; I began doing so in the 1960's & never stopped). To read Kafka is to be carried away by the imagination of th ...more
Probably most readable, rhythmic and rounded among these tales, so much so that I forced my brother to listen to me reading it aloud to him, is The Great Wall of China, which contains the immortal parable of the messenger.

Kafka's tales are oblique, frequently, I think, resisting reading in terms of established philosophical or ideological positions. Their psychological resonance is immense, even when it's difficult to pin a definitive meaning to the action, to divine the motivations of the chara
There is something about Kafka's writing that just pulls you in, ties you to the chair and makes you experience it - in all of its frustration, humor and sadness. When observed objectively, it is almost insane that we still read an author that only published a few completed short stories. Kafka ordered all of his work to be burned upon his early death at 41 - his executor and friend, Max Brod, sensed the unfulfilled genius in Kafka's work, and refused his friend's dying wish.

So I asked myself w
Sep 27, 2007 Jacob rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone born after 1880
Shelves: classic-fiction
Most people's exposure to Kafka consists entirely of "The Metamorphosis", which is a shame, for while that story is indeed a classic, it has led to a somewhat unfair pigeonholing of Kafka as a lonely, disillusioned Oedipal case with a penchant for bleak imagery (hence the adjective Kafkaesque). But while Kafka certainly is all of those things, he is also much more, and this collection is a brilliant portrait of that.

Some of the best moments in the collection come from Kafka letting out his playf
Eldonfoil TH*E Whatever Champion
Kafka's Complete Stories is the rare book to which I could give two stars or five. Beyond his writing, I love him for his humanity, his authenticity, and his painful incompatibility with the modern world. His attempts, however, to put all this in writing are unfortunately inconsistent, ranging from mesmerizing to incomplete "scribbling" as he referred to his own writing. As a reader I am repeatedly wishing beyond wishing that he had expanded, developed, and completed more of the stories and frag ...more

I read as much of it as I could comprehend/ connect with in high school and it mattered a great deal to me.

Years pass, and I still go back to it in difficult times for wisdom, perspective, and nourishment.

Shaimaa Ali
I've entered Kafka's world & got lost in time & space .. Never wanted to get back to real life!
That's my true feeling after finishing this magnificent book. Started by two introductory parables & followed by his famous longer stories. It was my 3rd time reading "The Metamorphosis", admired: ( In the Penal Colony, a Country Doctor, A Report to an Academy, A Hunger Artist, Investigations of a Dog & The Burrow).

From the shorter stories: "The knock at the Manor Gate" reminded me of
I have been overwhelmed with dread once or twice in my day, so for me this book works great.
This is the most authoritative collection of Kafka's immortal short fiction; it includes the most respected translations of each story (mostly by Willa and Edwin Muir), and a fair introduction from John Updike.

Kafka was the greatest writer of short fiction of the modern era. Such stories as 'The Metamorphosis,' 'In the Penal Colony,' 'The Hunger Artist,' and 'The Great Wall of China' encapsulate the tyrannical, dehumanizing regimentation of the modern world. Kafka may be difficult to read, and
Complete incomplete stories--

Most of Kafka's stories are incomplete. That's not to say his works are bad or unsatisfactory--though there are many that simply tease and baffle--but just that: incomplete.

One thing I do need to own up is that most of his stories are not much fun to read. "Metamorphosis" is definitely really good; "In the Penal Colony" is fascinating; "A Hunger Artist" is poignant and superbly told; "The Judgment," though this was Kafka's personal favorite, is "all right" at best; a
I was given this book months ago, but took a while to get back in the short-story groove :) Since I read these stories at various points, I'm only going to highlight my two personal favorites in this collection: METAMORPHOSIS, and THE PENAL COLONY. The first was one of those stories where you find yourself looking for an outcome that even YOU can't predict. As far as "staying power", this is one story that I don't think I'll ever forget. The second one, THE PENAL COLONY was a completely differen ...more
Every story is different, but each one takes you to a different world, or an alternative view of one we are in (and perhaps wish we weren't). Some are funny, some sad and many are both. Some are so short they are more like prose poems. Great for dipping into and getting a taste of Kafka before (and during and after) tackling his larger works.

See my Kafka-related bookshelf for other works by and about Kafka (
I can't believe I haven't rated this one yet. This is where you go to find Kafka, even more so than his unfinished novels. Though the Trial is magnificent, the short stories are where his genius is most evident. Depths and depths to plumb here. Leagues beyond most other writers.
UPDATE 2/13/14: I have been thinking about Kafka and the way I reviewed this book a lot- his works definitely make you think- and have decided to change my rating. I want to say that Albert Camus' quote that the thing about Kafka is that he causes you to reread him is extremely true. As disappointed as I was by the writing of many of the stories, others, such as Metamorphosis, I really enjoyed, and even those I did not caused me to really think. I believe I have been bitten by the Kafka bug (Gr ...more
Is it possible that the complete works of anybody ever are going to be amazing? That every product they have assembled - finished or not - when compiled, will be wall-to-wall (and without exaggeration) amazing? It's improbable enough to write one item of good material, but the entirety of one's life work to be impeccable and flawless and great? That's a notion of which I am highly skeptical, and it takes a lot of retroactive glorification, and a lot of assuming it is great beforehand, or somethi ...more
I think it's a little mistake to judge Kafka considering only "The Metamorphosis". There's a whole different view on things in some of his stories. You're not going to find a nice, warm, fuzzy, Care Bear kind of book (that line made sense in my mind). But some of his stories do show another side of him. I personally like the psychological twisted, complicated, claustrophobic and absurd ones with a weird sense of humor (yes, he can be funny) and infinite interpretations. But that's just me.

I like
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bill greene
i am, again, reading & rereading kafka. it surprised me when i picked up this book yesterday how many stories in it i had never read. i just finished, "The Burrow", which, alas, kafka did not (the version he did finish was burned in accordance with his wishes), and a lot of his really short pieces as well. kafka was so much more versatile than most people realize. some of these pieces are quite sweet, some wry & humorous. ("Josephine the Singer", for example, is both.) my favorite story ...more
Momina Masood
I can't believe this is finally over. Last year we were told to write a paper on our favorite short story writer. As I've written in my profile, I've never been an avid reader and so it was difficult choosing a favorite from absolute nothingness! I Googled famous stories and ended up reading In the Penal Colony. It left me completely stupefied. The Metamorphosis followed next; I was subdued and conquered by, who I would later call and think of as, one of the weirdest writers in the history of li ...more
Las narraciones de Franz Kafka me gustan más que sus novelas, pero no tanto como sus diarios, cartas y escritos personales. Kafka es uno de mis escritores favoritos, uno con los que tengo una relación más especial e íntima, y también es uno de los que más me cuesta hablar. Cuando me siento a escribir una reseña sobre Kafka no sé nunca qué decir (y siempre acabo diciendo que no sé qué decir). Kafka se tiene que leer. Al explicarlo se pierde toda la magia y toda la fuerza. Pongamos como ejemplo el ...more
Jose Luis
Estupenda edición (Valdemar), que permite acercarse a textos como La metamorfosis, La condena, Ante la ley, En la colonia penitenciaria, El maestro rural, Un médico rural, El cazador Gracchus, La construcción de la muralla china, Un viejo manuscrito, Informe para una academia, Preocupaciones de un padre de familia, Un artista del hambre, El buitre, Investigaciones de un perro, La guarida, Josefina la cantora, etc., en un volumen muy bien cuidado, como de costumbre.

Seguramente hay mejores traducc
I was interested in Kafka's short stories because I had read that they had influenced Borges' work. It turns out that the resemblance between their stories is only glancing: while Kafka does share some interest in the idea of the infinite (especially infinite waits, and infinite uncrossable distances), his stories are much more concerned with his own emotional life. Borges stories are rich in ideas, but generally empty of feeling, so it is a real difference between them.

Borges was also a master
(Note: I did not read every story in this collection, but I did read the major works; most of the larger stories, some of the more popular shorter stories and the entire collection Contemplation of short prose. This, therefore, is not a comment on every story in the book.)

As much as I would love to go into detail for my thoughts on every story I read, it's more important with a collection like this to reflect on the work as a whole. Reflection is a common theme in Kafka's work, and by reflecting
Martin Hernandez
Excelente edición de los cuentos de Franz KAFKA , en sus versiones originales. Aunque es bien sabido que poco antes de su muerte, KAFKA le dijo a su amigo y albacea Max BROD que destruyera todos sus manuscritos, BROD no le hizo caso y supervisó la publicación de la mayor parte de los escritos que obraban en su poder. Lo que yo no sabía es que éste sometió los escritos a fusiones y arreglos arbitrarios, de modo que muchos de los textos que conocemos no son tal y como fueron escritos. Esta edició ...more
Aaron Wolfson
The key to reading Kafka is, of course, suspension of disbelief. You’re likely familiar with the central conceit of his masterpiece, “The Metamorphosis,” one of the greatest stories ever written. A hapless traveling salesman, poor fellow, wakes up as an insect. This happens in the first sentence, and it just is. There’s no disputing it.

It’s a thread that winds through all his work -- Kafka’s incomparable ingenuity relentlessly drives his subjects into regions of the universe heretofore unexplor
Wael Mahmoud
Description of a Struggle review:
Description of a Struggle

Wedding Preparations In The Country review:
Translated by Ernst Kaiser and Eitbne Wilkins
Another unfinished unedited story, this time a novel project. Eight missing pages within the story and two different manuscripts. I think the castle was the final version of this story's idea. the real enjoyment coming after finishing reading, I'm sure that Eduard won't meet Betty but how when he got 24 hours only.

The judgement review:
Das Urteil

The Met
Jason Carlin
Kafka is a difficult, tedious writer. Anyone saying otherwise is fortunate to have a generous sense of perception. He's also a vague writer, and not because he's not thorough, but because he never allows himself to splash his truths up on a billboard. He's a craftsman who likes to compose in shadow, something always appealing in an author. And this isn't a conscious thing - the man is simply compelled into doing it.

One of the things I found impressive about Kafka is that he doesn't conform to s
Francs Kafka. „Stāsti”

Francs Kafka (1883-1924) ir modernisma literatūras klasiķis, kurš sarakstījis dažādus, pabeigtus un nepabeigtus, prozas darbus. Grāmatā „Stāsti” apkopota daļa no Kafkas īsajiem stāstiem jeb parabolām, kā arī autobiogrāfiskais stāsts „Vēstule tēvam”. Stāstos galvenā nozīme piešķirta dažādām cilvēku īpašībām un īpatnībām, kā arī ar viņa paša dzīvi saistītiem faktiem, kas gan attēloti netieši, ar metaforām un simbolismiem.
Stāstu tēli ir gan cilvēki, gan dzīvnieki, ga
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Franz Kafka (German pronunciation: [ˈfʀants ˈkafka]) was one of the major fiction writers of the 20th century. He was born to a middle-class German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, Bohemia (presently the Czech Republic), Austria–Hungary. His unique body of writing—much of which is incomplete and which was mainly published posthumously—is considered to be among the most influential in Western lite ...more
More about Franz Kafka...
The Metamorphosis The Trial The Metamorphosis and Other Stories The Castle The Metamorphosis, in the Penal Colony and Other Stories: The Great Short Works of Franz Kafka

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“Just think how many thoughts a blanket smothers while one lies alone in bed, and how many unhappy dreams it keeps warm.” 167 likes
“I stand on the end platform of the tram and am completely unsure of my footing in this world, in this town, in my family. Not even casually could I indicate any claims that I might rightly advance in any direction. I have not even any defense to offer for standing on this platform, holding on to this strap, letting myself be carried along by this tram, nor for the people who give way to the tram or walk quietly along or stand gazing into shop windows. Nobody asks me to put up a defense, indeed, but that is irrelevant.” 33 likes
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