Literature: Brussels subsidises cut-price Kafka
4 November 2011
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Along with Goethe, he is part of the literary canon taught in all secondary schools in the German-speaking countries. But today, Franz Kafka is a victim of what the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung describes as “an EU-funded execution.” The daily recalls the “true scandal” revealed by its fellow newspaper, Austria’s Kronenzeitung – for no apparent reason, an Austrian publisher has sent some 2,000 free copies of The Castle to German and Austrian schools. An extremely generous act, one would say, if the books weren’t riddled with spelling mistakes “that make it hardly better than reading a Chinese telephone book,” reports the Kronenzeitung.
Famous for its zealous commitment to correct spelling, FAZ notes that “the first page alone has nine mistakes.” Responding to the ensuing shower of complaints, the editor of the “cocky” publishing house explained in a press release to accompany almost two million published copies that he “has come to accept these mistakes, for economic reasons on the one hand, but then also because literature is not a spelling test.” He also acknowledges that the publishing project was “a good deal”, funded as it was by the European Commission “with a six-figure sum”. For its part, Brussels says it “wants to dig deeper” on the grant issue before responding officially.