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This report is taken from PN Review 107, Volume 22 Number 3, January - February 1996.

Kafka's Uncle Iain Bamforth

I read too much, but I wouldn't call myself a bibliophile, at least not in the strict sense of the term. That implies too much leisure and a love of books for the wrong reasons. Occasionally, though, I do buy the odd curio. Such a book as Kafka's Ein Landarzt, which was reissued in 1994 on the seventy-fifth anniversary of its original publication. My book can't pretend to be a collector's edition but the original is: of the 1,000 copies printed in outsize Tertia Walbaum very few were ever purchased in Kafka's lifetime.

Wagenbach, the publishers, point out another family connection: the book is printed by the Offizin Haag-Drugulin in Leipzig, one of the most famous printers in Germany and later to produce The Penal Colony for Kafka's original publisher Kurt Wolff. Ein Landarzt eventually appeared in January 1920, and was hardly noticed by the press. Schocken Verlag received the unsold remainder copies in the 193as.

Kafka dedicated his book rather pointedly to his father (but pointlessly also, since we know from the diaries what his father thought about his son's literary life), but the title figure of the country doctor points to a different relative altogether.

Siegfried Löwy was born in 1867, elder haljt7l:)rIDthl~r to Kafka's mother, and following his MD at the University of Prague possessor of the only doctorate in the entire family until his nephew. When Kafka was in his last year at school, Uncle Siegfried took up a ...


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