Mark Harman is Professor of English and Modern Languages at Elizabethtown College. The paperback edition of his translation of Franz Kafka’s Amerika: The Missing Person appeared in August. (September 2011)
Kafka’s “A Message From the Emperor” made its first appearance in the Prague Zionist journal Die Selbstwehr (“Self-defense”) in September 1919, the year the thirty-six-year-old Kafka composed his famous letter to his father. Hauntingly oblique, the story weaves together child-like hopefulness and stoical resignation, metaphysical yearning and psychological insight, a seemingly Chinese tale and covert Jewish themes.