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Blue Octavo Notebooks

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  971 ratings  ·  69 reviews
From late 1917 until June 1919, Franz Kafka ceased to keep a diary, for which he had used quarto-size notebooks, instead writing in a series of smaller, octavo-size notebooks. When Kafka's literary executor, Max Brod, published the diaries in 1948, he omitted these notebooks--which include short stories, fragments of stories and other literary writings--because, he wrote, ...more
Paperback, 107 pages
Published February 1st 2004 by Exact Change (first published 1953)
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May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Tara by: E. G.
“It’s the old joke. We hold the world fast and complain that it is holding us.”

A collection of delicate, glinting, captivating fragments, sharp and exquisite as broken glass.

E. G.
Publisher's Note

--The First Notebook
--The Second Notebook
--The Third Notebook
--The Fourth Notebook
--The Fifth Notebook
--The Sixth Notebook
--The Seventh Notebook
--The Eighth Notebook
--Reflections on Sin, Suffering, Hope, and the True Way [Aphorisms]

Notes, by Max Brod
Mar 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In Zürau tubercular Kafka through long nights I imagine as star-needled or dense with dark blue clouds backlit by moonglow, blue depth of cloud rift over blue dark forest humming with animal and wind chorus, branch-song, hill-shadows, blue the color inside a closed skull dense with thoughts, wanting light, blue deep blue and the day also, the sun, the span, the leaves, aphorisms like time-motes on the back breeze of the west wind upgusted, blown into our hands though meant for oblivion. Small th ...more
Lynne King
I lay on the ground by the wall, writhing in pain, trying to burrow into the damp earth. The huntsman stood beside me and lightly pressed one foot in the small of my back. “A splendid beast,” he said to the beater, who was cutting open my collar and coat in order to feel my flesh. Already tired of me and eager for fresh action, the hounds were running senselessly against the wall. The coach came, and, bound hand and foot, I was flung in beside the gentleman, over the back seat, so that my hea ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Sometimes I think I can expiate all my past and future sins through the aching of my bones when I come home from the engineering works at night or, in the morning, after a night-shift. I am not strong enough for this work, I have known that for a long time and yet I do nothing to change anything." (23)
Lee Klein
Jun 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book. I've had maybe four copies in the last ten years and have given them all away. It's printed by two-thirds of what used to be the band Galaxie 500. The other third became Luna. A beautiful book. Includes Reflections on Sin etc . . . and aphorisms and freakish fragments. ...more
Not the Kafka i was used to , but it's definitely and interesting book. ...more
Kate Savage
Aug 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Your will is free means: it was free when it wanted the desert, it is free since it can choose the path that leads to crossing the desert, it is free since it can choose the pace, but it is also unfree since you must go through the desert, unfree since every path in labyrinthine manner touches every foot of the desert’s surface."

Kafka at his most fragmented and immediate. The blue octavo notebooks were the equivalent of those salt-and-pepper student composition books, meant for scribblings and
Apr 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My favorite of Kafka's journals, with wonderful Nietschean aphorisms told in Kafka's inimitable cadence and voice. ...more
Patrick Cottrell
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
aphorisms and other small miniatures. like a bag of exquisite marbles.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Kafka kept journals full of day-to-day events; he also kept eight little notebooks cum "reflections" that contain thoughts and ideas that were not so time-bound. Examples:

"The evolution of mankind--a growth of death-force."

"He felt it at his temple, as the wall feels the point of a nail that is about to be driven into it. Hence he did not feel it."

"Human judgment of human actions is true and void, that is to say, first true and then void."

In a declarative way, such statements are analogues of hi
CherylFaith Taylor
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Immersion begun...I'm sinking into his world...
a Gifts for a frigid February Night:

"What is ridiculous in the physical world is possible in the spiritual world.......The inner world can only be experienced, not described.____"
Franz Kafka, Blue Octavo Notebooks , THE THIRD NOTEBOOK, page 14, paragraph 4...

Upon this Night too cold for Moon, I should snuggle with K. and discuss with him:

1) Poets often struggle to describe that "inner world". {Yes or no?}

2) Moments exist when "the inner world" ar
Jul 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: translations
I never realized how religious he was until I read this. Many notes about Christian faith, sin, suffering, evil. A list of 109 "Reflections," and a few parable-like stories. Some are incredibly funny:

"To all of my fellow lodgers:
I am in possession of five toy rifles. They are hanging in my wardrobe, one on each hook. The first belongs to me, and the others can be claimed by anyone who wishes to send his name. . . "
Jun 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
kafka's last notebooks of fragments, ideas, and burning nights. kafka in a sheaf of notes is much more intelligible than in his tightly constructed pieces - here you can see the burdens hammering in his chest. the lines are so precious and unfamiliar in their origin - they've stayed rattling in my head like strange pets ...more
Jody Rambo
Aug 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
initially intrigued by the fact that kafka kept a diary in quarto-sized notebooks, i searched for a copy. aphoristically rich. dreamy at times. a bit like being in a small gallery of only picasso's blue period paintings. ...more
Al Matthews
Dec 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fellow half-readers
Shelves: half-reading
4.36, in fact.

This is nice -- the little jottings that were I gather Kafka's primary genre. Believe this edition is designed by Naomi of (Exact Change Press and) Galaxie 500.

May 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Parts of it were brilliant, some others not so.. It was after all just a collection of unfinished thoughts. I'd likely leave recommendations to Kafka fans. ...more
Ingrid Contreras
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Kafka is a genius. Contains this line: “A cage went looking for a bird,” and many just as dazzling.
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reference
Strictly speaking of interest only when read comparatively with The Zürau Aphorisms, whose phrasing/sense I prefer.
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"How can one be glad about the world except if one takes one's refuge in it?" ...more
Joe Archer
Nov 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
I read this because Tommy Orange recommended it at a book talk. Either Tommy is a bigger Kafka fan than I (probably) or knows something I don’t (definitely).
Peter Rock
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Compared to most Kafka, maybe a 2? But compared to most things, pretty great. I'm not sure why my friend Blue gave it one star; he's cantankerous, but smart. For me, the scraps of stories are interesting, but not that satisfying; still, an interesting glimpse into Kafka wandering around, flailing. What I do appreciate are the lists and reflections that were clearly (there's always this tension with Kafka's work, since he allegedly told Max Brod to burn everything; I kind of suspect his, but it s ...more
Castor Luwian
Feb 24, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is dense. It took me three weeks to read and it's only 98 pages. My three star rating is based essentially on the form of the book, not the content, but the way in which the content is comprised; the raw composition of the material, which is so totally dense in its original state, and not really organized in any sense other than the order in which it was written, doesn't really work as a book. It's pure Kafka, yeah, but it's almost unbearable to read because it's so compact in substanc ...more
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1910s, deutsch, mod-ism
If you've enjoyed his diaries, reading fragments and unfinished bits and unconnected ideas, then you'll appreciate this volume. (It essentially reads like a continuation of the diaries, filling in the 1917-1919 gap, minus any actual autobiographical material.) That said, much of the best material here has been lifted and arranged in a frankly more digestible manner in Schocken's 'Aphorisms' and 'Complete Stories'. This particular publication is really for completists or scholars. Huge margins ma ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This can be viewed as a kind of “Best Of” version of Kafka’s diaries, even though they were written in separate notebooks from the “normal” diaries. The scribblings of the blue octavo notebooks were limited, according to Max Brod, to “literary ideas, fragments and aphorisms (without reference to the everyday world).” I found the book boring at times, as in these notebooks, much more than in the other diaries, Kafka ruminates on religion and spirituality, which just wasn’t what I was drawn to in ...more
shehzad irani
Sep 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Much of the book is bits and pieces of what Kafka wrote in his blue octavo notebooks (notebooks which are 1/8th of an imperial size). They look amateurish in parts and succinct, profound in others, proving that the greatest authors are great because they write so much and so diverse.. a brilliant read for fans of KAFKA who know and understand his german style of writing... for those who don't there are still parts that one may enjoy, but it doesn't read like a book, so feel free to pick and choo ...more
Marcus Mennes
Apr 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
This collection offers a glimpse inside Kafka's brain, which is at times strange, giddy, and profound; qualities formalized in his more polished fiction, here delivered in fragments, like little snapshots of the author's creative process. The material is a mix of journal entries, story sketches, plot ideas, dreams, aphorisms, and other miscellania. Some portions are quite complete; crystallized like prose poems. Other bits are cryptic, private, and like much of Kafka's work, signposts of an ideo ...more
Will Daly
Feb 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
At certain points, reproduces the same sensation I feel when reading the book of genesis—the sensation of being overwhelmed by the symbolic density of it all. I've read better translations of certain stories, which somewhat spoiled the rest for me. Only 80 pages, but left me feeling utterly dazed and spiritually drained. ...more
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Blue Octavo Notebooks is a collection of eight little notebooks from Kafka's posthumous papers. Notebooks are in chronological order and contain fragments, aphorisms, and ideas for future writing projects. A fascinating look at his creative literary ideas as he jotted them down. ...more
Sébastien Bernard
May 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The closest Kafka gets—to my knowledge—to some of the finest prose poetry I have ever read. These are the shortest, most pragmatic and at the same time suggestive stories, parables, and fragments of his, most of them no more than one or two small paragraphs long.
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Franz Kafka 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 literature.

His stories include "The Metamorph

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