It’s been widely reported, even in English-language papers, that a vault containing Franz Kafka’s papers was opened in Zurich yesterday, I believe in the presence of several people including one Germanist.
Just why it has taken so long for the hidden manuscripts to see the light of day is a story of Kafkaesque proportions in itself. Born in Prague in 1883, Franz Kafka – whose surname means “magpie” in Czech – was a little-known Jewish writer with a handful of published German stories to his name when he died.
I don’t know why we need to be told that Kafka means magpie in Czech – especially since it doesn’t, it means jackdaw. Not that I know any Czech, but Google thinks magpie might be straka.
LATER NOTE (August 2010): here is a photo of a jackdaw on Fürther Freiheit: