Kafka letters sold to German and British libraries | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 04.04.2011
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Kafka letters sold to German and British libraries

The heirs of influential German-language author Franz Kafka have sold 111 letters he wrote to his favorite sister to German and British libraries.

Undated photo of Franz Kafka

Kafka wanted his work to be destroyed after his death

A rare bundle of letters written by author Franz Kafka to his sister Ottla has been sold to the German Literary Archive in Marbach and the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford.

The letters were expected to have fetched an estimated 500,000 euros (US $700,000) at an auction in Berlin on April 19. The libraries wanted to prevent the letters from ending up in the hands of private speculators who might then want to sell them later for individual profit.

"Kafka has no place in the art markets," said Ulrich Hauff, the archive's director. "He belongs in the world of literature, the world of readers, the world of research and discovery."

Ottla was Kafka's favorite sister. The letters, written between September 1909 to January 1924, are said to be particularly personal and intimate.

Both the Marbach archive and the Bodleian Library plan to display the letters.

Kafka was born to Jewish German-speaking parents in Prague in 1883. He was one of the most influential authors of his time. His works include "The Metamorphosis," "The Trial" and "The Castle." He died of tuberculosis in 1924.

Shortly before his death, he asked his friend Max Brod to burn his books. Brod refused, saying he believed Kafka wanted him to do the opposite.

Ottla Kafka died in the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1943.

Author: Wilhelmina Lyffyt (AP, dpa)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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