A street sign in Prague.(coplelaes/Flickr)

BEFORE THE LAW stands the doorkeeper [Israel]. To the doorkeeper there comes a man from the country [who represents Franz Kafka’s literary estate] and prays for admittance to the Law [so that he can recover Kafka’s papers, which were held by Kafka’s friend Max Brod, and passed down when he died to a German cat-lady named Eva Hoffe, and which are claimed by both the estate and the National Library in Jerusalem]. But the doorkeeper says that he cannot grant admittance at the moment. The man thinks it over and then asks if he will be [granted Kafka’s papers] later. “It is possible,” says the doorkeeper, “but not at the moment.” Since the gate stands open, as usual, and the doorkeeper steps to one side, the man stoops to peer through the gateway into the interior. Observing that, the doorkeeper laughs and says: “If you are so drawn to it, just try to go in despite my veto. But take note: I am powerful. And I am only the least of the doorkeepers. From hall to hall there is one doorkeeper after another, each more powerful than the last. The third doorkeeper is already so terrible that even I cannot bear to look at him.” These are difficulties the man from the country has not expected; the Law, he thinks, should surely be accessible at all times and to everyone, but as he now takes a closer look at [Israel], with his big sharp nose and long, thin, black Tartar beard, he decides that it is better to wait until he gets permission to enter. [Then he accuses Israel of engaging in actions “unworthy of a democratic state,” reminiscent of “dark, despotic regimes.” He adds, “A foul odor of ‘nationalization’ is being emitted in this case. Any fair-minded person who reviews the materials will feel uneasy about the ugly efforts made by the state for years to wrest control of the Kafka papers.”] [The End.]

Managers of Kafka Literary Estate: Israel Taking ‘Dark’ Steps To Seize Manuscripts [Haaretz]
Related: Before the Law
Earlier: Whom Does Kafka Belong To?