The German car maker Porsche has given the Czech capital a precious gift - the reconstructed personal library of the Czech-German-Jewish writer Franz Kafka. Kafka's personal library - a collection of books, magazines and manuscripts, including some of the first editions of his works was carefully reconstructed by a book dealer in Stuttgart and acquired by Porsche for over one hundred thousand US dollars. It has been donated to the Franz Kafka Society in Prague and will open to the public in May. Daniela Lazarova has the story:
Franz Kafka was a German Jew who lived in the heart of Christian Czech culture at the turn of the 19th century, but as a subject of the then Austro-Hungarian empire, he was educated in Prague's German schools and wrote almost exclusively in German. His works reflected that unique mix of Czech, Jewish and German culture characteristic of central Europe at the time. Most Czechs have a keen appreciation for Kafka's literary style - especially his surrealist works which, uncannily, turned out to be a fitting description of life in the communist era. Yet it is precisely that quality in Kafka's works, which made him unacceptable to the communist regime which came to power long after the author's death. During the five decades of communist rule in the former Czechoslovakia his works were banned, his manuscripts sold abroad and his connections to Prague erased from the history books. Consequently, although Kafka lived most of his life in Prague, the Czech capital has neither a museum nor a collection of his manuscripts. After the country's return to democracy, the Franz Kafka Society opened a modest gallery, two bookshops and a small Kafka library boasting about 2,000 volumes. A square in the centre of Prague was recently named after the world-famous Czech-German-Jewish writer. Now, thanks to the generosity of the German car-maker Porsche and the painstaking work of book dealer Herbert Blank, the Kafka Society is preparing to display Kafka's personal library and sees it as a possible impetus for a long-sought Kafka museum, which would focus not only on the author and his life but also on the rich heritage of the Czech-German-Jewish culture at the core of his work and times.