Saturday, 5 February 2011


Professor Judith Butler from Berkeley was doing a trail (very extended) about the future of the Kafka boxes which are held in Tel Aviv and in Zurich.  The estate amounts to a lot of boxes of old papers, which in today's parlance would have long since been shredded as material no longer wanted on voyage.  

Franz Kafka lived in Prague, wrote in German and was Jewish.  Under normal circumstances and according to his will the boxes of papers would have long since gone the way of the Microsoft recycling bin.  This story, however, refuses to die down and it's recycled on Saturdays, when the BBC can only afford 2 ankers, one of whom (Naughtie) was in Egypt.  You can plug any old book with James Naughtie (see previous blog).  I only listened for 90 minutes, and there were at least 5 books being plugged.  Prof. Butler wasn't really plugging anything, but this was a bit of BBC Radio 4 cutting and pasting, and you might pick it up on Radios 3, 5, 7,  the World Service and the Persian language service.  

An institute in Tel Aviv is claiming the law of return, which means that anything written by a person of Jewish descent has to go to Tel Aviv.  The German Institute in Marbach would like to have the Kafka archives as Kafka wrote in German, and according to Prof. Butler German is an important part of world culture. 

At this point, another claim appears.  Translations of Kafka's stories were made by Willa and Edwin Muir not long after they were written, and according to an Argyll source, they have Scottish connections.  This is very interesting as all the characters we have tried to contact have similar names - they are all variants of the common English surname Brown. 

Eva Braun and her sister were trying to sell off the Kafka boxes, as they are known, by the kilo!  Arthur Braun, the Tel Aviv curator, says that although there is a connection with Scotland, he thought the Scottish claim was a bad joke in very poor taste.  Meanwhile, in Germany Mariana Rosenburg- Braun could only say "er gehort zu mir", while her cousin Werner von Braun said the value of the boxes had rocketed due to the price of oil.  

In Scotland, we had great difficulty in making any sense of the Kafka problem.  Contacting the Mitchell in Glasgow, we could only get hold off Susan Calmac-Braun, who said "I'm listening to Radio 3.  We've got enough scheidt already."  We had no more luck in the Kirkaldy Museum (curator Horace Brown): "We don't need any boxes of Kafka.  We've got enough boxes of Gordon Brown's stuff to go through.  That's a lot of carbon dioxide.  Thank you , but no!" In a desperate attempt to find a Scottish home for the Kafka treasures, we contacted the Stornoway Museum in Uttar Pradesh.  Unfortunately, the wires were completely crossed and the situation got really Kafka-esque.  Begum Kaka said in Hindustani: "Do you want all these Kafka boxes?"  to which Morag Nic a'bhruinn, the curator of the museum, said:"Cha n'eil Cafchaidh idir agam.  Is caca uile ver cact!"

We attach some of the interesting articles from the Jewish Chronicle, Haaretz, Forward Argyll and SW Radio for an update.  This is sure to be a hot topic and we look forward to your comments.  Please note, our translation budget has gone through the Richter scale.  Specialist translators in Hindustani, Hebrew, Czech, German, English, Scottish and Lewis Gaelic don't come cheap.  For the sake of clarity - according to Mel Brooks - the rest of this blog will be in Polish! 

Anna Bronski

UPDATE:  Tony (Dr A.V.O'Gadro) has said that I have forgotten to mention his seminal film entitled "Darstellung von Brom".

I'm afraid this is another one of those von Brom family sagas.  At least it's not von Trapp from the Sound of Mucous.  Tony has also reminded me of that dreadful joke which has something to do with the manufacture of bromine.  I'm sorry that Radomir, you'll have to listen to this, as it's a film - there's no running commentary, but you can hear the experiment.  Tony says there's a lot of interesting chemistry in this, but he's the expert.  The dreadful joke is of the chemical type:

A+B = C +D

Brombeeren plus erde  gibt  erdbeeren plus Brom


  1. I am funding your blog very good. It is very blind friendly. In my country we kant access all your links. You must have funny keyboard. But if I listen to it on JAWS5 with American english voice it sounds ok. If people dont like lack of colour, pictures they can go elsewhere. I will make you hottest blog in Minsk before long time.


  2. Thank you, Radomir.

    It's nice to know that you're spreading the news in Minsk. I'm glad that you find the blog blind-friendly. It wasn't designed that way. I'm still learning the ropes of blogging, but I'll try and keep it simple. I have been searching for JAWS. It sounds like one of our nuclear physicists. I will check with Tony if he knows anything about JAWS programs. I suppose I should say "keep listening".

  3. Please do not joke about the law of return. If Mark Regev gets his way, he'll want all the archives and boxes from Rabbi Burns and that Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, as Mark thinks he's related to Bob Dylan. We have too many boxes and we've no space, unless we reclaim some more territory.