Few literary figures have stirred readers’ imaginations as much as Kafka, his tormented life and early death. Indeed, he is viewed as a mythical figure as much as a renowned author. But above all, the bizarre story of how Kafka’s work survived and entered the canon has become a staple of literary legend.
When I was in second grade my mother told me to read upside down. “You’re reading too fast,” she said, “it’s upsetting the teacher.” She had been instructed to do this as a child, and it was only natural for her to pass this wisdom on to me. Even now, I occasionally flip the book over in order to savor the story.