Battle over Franz Kafka archive kept for decades in cat-infested flat

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The decision by an Israeli court to issue the order has raised hopes among Kafka scholars that the papers will cast new light on the life and work of the great Czech writer.

The court order marks the end of the first chapter in a battle for control of his literary legacy, whose absurd twists could have ended up in one of his angst-ridden works.

Kafka scholars hope that unseen original work by the author of The Trial, perhaps even an unfinished novel, might be buried among the papers that were for decades left to rot by the former secretary of Kafka's friend and executor, Max Brod.

For now only Eva Hoffe and her sister Ruth Wisler know what is in the treasure trove, which they have tranferred to bank deposit boxes. The elderly sisters inherited the archive from their mother, Mr Brod's secretary, Esther Hoffe. Her will is being contested by the National Library of Israel, which insists she had no right to pass the documents to her daughters....

The latest legal tussle began in 2008, when Mrs. Hoffe died at the age of 101, leaving her apartment and the papers to her daughters.

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