“Because I have to fast, I can’t help it,” said the hunger artist. “What a fellow you are,” said the overseer, “and why can’t you help it?” “Because,” said the hunger artist, lifting his head a little and speaking, with his lips pursed, as if for a kiss, right into the overseer’s ear, so that no syllable might be lost, “because I couldn’t find the food I liked. If I had found it, believe me, I should have made no fuss and stuffed myself like you or anyone else.” -Franz Kafka, Ein Hungerkünstler
FIRST EDITION OF THE LAST WORK KAFKA PREPARED FOR PUBLICATION, CONTAINING THE FIRST BOOK APPEARANCE OF FOUR STORIES, INCLUDING THE CLASSIC TITLE STORY “THE HUNGER ARTIST”.
Ein Hungerhünstkler, Vier Geschichten “was published by Die Schmiede, a publishing house in Berlin, shortly after Kafka’s death in October 1924. In addition to the title story, it included “Erstes Leid” (“First Sorrow”), “Eine kleine Frau” (“A Little Woman”), and “Josefine, die Sängerin oder Das Volk der Mäuse” (“Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk”). All four stories had been previously published either in newspapers or literary supplements... Although Max Brod had usually arranged for the publication of Kafka’s texts and, in fact, had brought Kafka to the attention of Die Schmiede, Kafka himself negotiated the terms for this volume in 1923. Kafka received a small advance, which he dearly needed for his care and treatment during the last few months of his life and arranged for all royalties from the volume to go to Dora Diamant after his death. He received the proofs in Kierling during the last week of his life, and in one of the Gesprächsblätter (conversation slips) -- the means by which he communicated after he could no longer talk and had difficultly swallowing -- lamented that they had waited so long to send him the material. Nonetheless, with what little strength he had left, he corrected the galleys up until the last day of his life” (Gray, Gross, Goebel, A Franz Kafka Encyclopedia).
Berlin: Die Schmiede, 1924. Thin octavo (138x198mm), original green cloth designed by Georg Salter, blue and red printed label on front board; red and white paper spine label. top edge stained yellow, other edges uncut. Spine label toned (as usual); perhaps a hint of fading to spine (the spine is often found quite faded). A beautiful copy of a book that is notoriously difficult to find in good condition.
Price: $1,500 .