In conversations Kafka used to refer to this book as his "American novel," later he called it simply The Stoker, after the title of the first chapter, which appeared separately in 1913.[4] Kafka's working title was The Man Who Disappeared (Der Verschollene).[5] The title Amerika was chosen by Kafka's literary executor, Max Brod, who assembled the uncompleted manuscript and published it after his death.[5] Brod donated the manuscript to the University of Oxford.[6]


Kafka broke off his work on this novel with unexpected suddenness, and it remained unfinished. From what he told his friend and biographer Max Brod, the incomplete chapter "The Nature Theatre of Oklahoma" (a chapter the beginning of which particularly delighted Kafka, so that he used to read it aloud with great effect) was intended to be the concluding chapter of the work and was supposed to end on a note of reconciliation. In enigmatic language, Kafka used to hint smilingly that within this "almost limitless" theatre his young hero was going to find again a profession, a stand-by, his freedom, even his old home and his parents, as if by some celestial witchery.[7]

The parts of the narrative immediately preceding this chapter are also incomplete. Two large fragments, describing Karl's service with Brunelda, are extant, but do not fill up the gaps. Only the first six chapters were divided and given titles by Kafka.[7]

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