From The Guardian:
Franz Kafka in 1905. Photograph: Getty Images
Franz Kafka wanted all his manuscripts to be burned after his death, but his friend Max Brod disregarded the request, seeding a complex legal battle over thousands of manuscripts that has the literary world agog. That legal tussle takes a new twist today as four safety deposit boxes in a Zurich bank containing the manuscripts are opened.
I have mixed feelings about this. If it were me (haha, I should be so lucky as to write something that would instigate such controversy), I would be pretty unhappy that someone did not carry out my last request. On the other hand, as a reader, this stuff could be invaluable.
Jane Austen had her sister Cassandra burn most of her letters after her death, and Jane-ites the world over have been gnashing their teeth over the loss ever since. Would Kafka even care at this point? He’s been dead for almost 90 years, pretty much anyone who ever knew him is dead. Is it ever ok to disregard someone’s wishes like this? Selfishly, the literary world wants to get their hands on these documents, manuscripts, and letters (or whatever they turn out to be).
I guess the moral of the story is, if you really want something burned after your death, do it yourself ahead of time. Weigh in, what do you think should be done with these papers?