Benjamin Balint: “Kafka’s Last Trial” at the Montreal Jewish Public Library On May 21 at 7:00 pm,

The Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies, the Jewish Public Library and the Goethe-Institut Montreal invite you to meet Benjamin Balint, author and Library Fellow at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem.

Balint will be presenting his latest book, “Kafka’s Last Trial” on Tuesday, May 21 2019 at 7 pm at the Gelber Conference Center, 5151 Côte-Ste-Catherine.

About the book:

Kafka’s Last Trial begins with Kafka’s last instruction to his closest friend, Max Brod: to destroy all his remaining papers upon his death. But when the moment arrived in 1924, Brod could not bring himself to burn the unpublished works of the man he considered a literary genius – even a saint. Instead, Brod devoted his life to championing Kafka’s writing, rescuing his legacy from obscurity and physical destruction.
The story of Kafka’s posthumous life is itself Kafkaesque. By the time of Brod’s own death in Tel Aviv in 1968, Kafka’s major works had been published, transforming the once little-known writer into a pillar of literary modernism. Yet Brod left a wealth of still-unpublished papers to his secretary, who sold some, held on to the rest, and then passed the bulk of them on to her daughters, who in turn refused to release them. An international legal battle erupted to determine which country could claim ownership of Kafka’s work: Israel, where Kafka dreamed of living but never entered, or Germany, where Kafka’s three sisters perished in the Holocaust?

Alongside an acutely observed portrait of Kafka, Benjamin Balint also traces the journey of the manuscripts Brod had rescued when he fled from Prague to Palestine in 1939 and offers a gripping account of the Israeli court case that determined their fate.

Balint invites us to consider Kafka’s remarkable legacy and to question whether that legacy belongs by right to the country of his language, that of his birth, or that of his cultural affinities – but also whether any nation state can lay claim to ownership of a writer’s work at all. For more details, and to reserve a seat, please visit:

Benjamin Balint

Benjamin Balint taught literature, including Kafka, at the Bard College humanities program at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem for the last three years. His first book, Running Commentary, was published by PublicAffairs in 2010. His second book, Jerusalem: City of the Book (co-authored with Merav Mack), was released in 2017. His reviews and essays regularly appear in the Wall Street Journal, Die Zeit, Haaretz, the Weekly Standard, and the Claremont Review of Books. His translations of Hebrew poetry have appeared in the New Yorker and in Poetry International. His study of Kafka’s tangled literary legacy, Kafka’s Last Trial, draws on his extensive knowledge of this elusive author, and which country can lay claim to him.

The Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies:

The Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies is a multi-disciplinary research centre that brings together students, faculty and researchers who are dedicated to the study of Israel in all its facets.

The Jewish Public Library:

For more than 100 years, the Jewish Public Library has been a celebrated fixture of the Montreal community and cultural life. The JPL promotes academic and cultural excellence in a warm and accessible space where knowledge and information are shared in multiple formats. Through our Main Library, our Children’s Library, our world renowned Archives, our Cultural Programming for adults and children, and our Multimedia Centre, we connect every demographic of our diverse community to the world – while bringing the world to our community.

The Goethe-Institut Montreal:

Founded in 1962, the Goethe-Institut Montreal is located in the heart of the “Quartier des spectacles”. Its work is focused in three areas: the dissemination of German culture through cultural events, the promotion of the German language through courses and seminars for teachers, and the dissemination of information about Germany through its library and website. 

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