The drawings of Kafka, Frank Gehry, Flemish painting… Five beautiful books for the holidays


A little more than two weeks before the end of the year holidays, The world of books has concocted a selection of beautiful books to slip under the tree … or keep for yourself. On the program: the rediscovered drawings of Franz Kafka, a history of the printed book, a work devoted to masterpieces by architect Frank Gehry, another to Flemish painting … And, for dessert, recipes from the best French pastry chefs.

DRAWINGS. “Kafka. The drawings ”, edited by Andreas Kilcher

The work of Franz Kafka, one of the literary monuments of the XXe century, continues to reveal little-known contours. As the centenary of the death of this secret writer (1883-1924) approaches, a part of this imagination, always modern and always fascinating, is still opening up to us with the recent discovery of more than one hundreds of drawings in a lively style, sometimes close to graffiti or scribbling, sometimes elaborate or realistic. To his often dark writing, they offer a note of humor and even cheerfulness.

The superb album which brings them together for the first time proves this. It is enriched by contributions from Andreas Kilcher, a great connoisseur of Judeo-German literature, the visual artist Pavel Schmidt, who comments on each image, and a reflection by the American philosopher Judith Butler. In his drawings, the writer deploys a keen sense of the grotesque and the distorted, as in the portrait of a drinker whose face seems devoured by a powerfully toothed mouth facing a full glass; or also when the contrite head of a man in a coat appears, denying the seriousness of his bourgeois condition with clownish lips. Yes, there was a mocking, mischievous, maybe even happy Kafka. This collection, as unusual as it is fascinating, demonstrates it. Nicolas weill

“Kafka.  The drawings ”, edited by Andreas Kilcher, translated from the German by Virginie Pironin and from the English by Gaëlle Cogan, Les Cahiers dessinés, 336 p., 35 €.

STORY. “Ink and paper. A history of the printed book ”, by Olivier Deloignon, Jean-Marc Chatelain and Jean-Yves Mollier

Ink and paper welcomes the reader in an imaginary library where works that have punctuated the history of publishing meet, by distributing its 263 reproductions of printed objects between three sequences, introduced by three dense and erudite essays, on the experiments of the XVe Western century – before and after the invention of movable type by Gutenberg -, the“Old typographical regime” at the time of the Protestant Reformation and the state regulation of the book, or the changes of modernity, from the XIXe century.

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